How do you relax after a long day at work or at home with the young ones? Do you find yourself tired but your mind won’t stop thinking about the events or problems of the day? Here are ten time-tested strategies for ditching the day’s stress and getting a good night’s sleep.
1. Take a warm shower before dinner!
A warm shower will relax your muscles, refresh your mind, and help you think through the thoughts bothering you. Tell yourself that by the end of the shower, rehashing of your problems is done. You will actually feel so much better and have more energy for the evening. Use soap and hair care products that have uplifting scents. Lavender soap is relaxing and tea tree/peppermint shampoo will really wake you up! No wonder many people sing in the shower. Do it!
2. Set the table and light some candles at dinner.
Many families eat on the go, in front of the TV, or even standing up at the kitchen counter or island. Even if your meal is simple and humble, set the table properly and at the center, place a small lit candle. These two simple things will do wonders for relaxation, conversation, and lifting mood.
3. Eat a homemade, balanced, real food meal.
It is joyful and nourishing to the body and soul to eat good, fresh food. Keep the menu simple: baked chicken breasts, brown rice, and a green salad; tacos with homemade Spanish rice; or roast beef with potatoes and carrots piping hot from the crock pot. If you are eating low-carb, paleo, gluten-free, or vegetarian…select from among your favorite entrées and sides. These are meals about which everyone will be excited! Watch your family’s energy level pick up as they enjoy this meal.
4. Use essential oils with a diffuser.
Putting your feet up after a long day and placing a few drops of essential oils in a diffuser near your chair can transport you to your happy place! One word of caution, though, this routine can be seriously addicting! In a good way of course. There are so many powerfully relaxing essential oils from which to choose. Lavender, Roman Chamomile, and Cedarwood are classics, as are premium proprietary blends. Find your favorites and feel your tension melt away as you close your eyes and let the gentle diffuser mist float across your body.
5. Take a power nap.
If you are really spent and still have dinner to cook and loved ones who need your attention, take a 20 minute power nap. Kick your shoes off, set a timer, and nap in a quiet, dark room. Most people report feeling very refreshed and renewed by a power nap. But don’t go any longer than 20 minutes or you won’t sleep at night.
6. Exercise to release endorphins and relieve stress.
Gentle exertions such as stretching, walking, and swimming will relax muscles, refocus your thoughts, and release endorphins for a feel good mood at dinner and restful sleep when you retire for the evening.
Drink a glass of water. Research shows that people are often dehydrated and this can cause a sense of confusion and fatigue. If a refreshing glass of cool spring water doesn’t appeal to you, try sparkling water with ice and a twist of fresh lemon, lime, or orange. You may also use a drop of high quality, therapeutic grade citrus essential oil in lime, lemon, grapefruit, or tangerine. For a one-two punch, make a quick green smoothie from a powder mix to energize and hydrate at the same time.
8. Laugh your head off.
You KNOW how good it feels to laugh ’til you cry! Stress seems to melt away and the flood of endorphins gives you energy and a better perspective! Keep a stash of hilarious media handy including comedy DVDs, cartoon collections, or humorous books. Take 30 or 45 minutes before dinner to watch an episode or two of reruns such as”I Love Lucy” or “Gomer Pyle,” read a few pages from Calvin and Hobbs cartoons, or laugh ’til you cry with authors such as Irma Bombeck.
9. Engage in a random act of kindness.
Sure you’re tired, but nothing will perk you up like doing a random act of kindness. It really does something for your own soul not to mention that it blesses someone else. Going through the Starbucks line for some iced tea on the way home? Pay it forward and pick up the tab for the person in line behind you. Have more than enough bubbling in the crock pot or oven? Send a hot plate of food to the single neighbor, new mom, or elderly person you know. Just drop it by, say hello, and leave. Not much time spent, but big blessings all around.
10. Use a prayer jar or journal.
Personal health problems, relational problems, or worries about the kids have you in knots? Can’t let them go enough to relax in the evening? Take them to God in prayer. Powerful stuff here. Keep a prayer jar (any lidded jar) and once you have prayed about something, write it down and put it in the jar as a reminder that this problem is in God’s hands now. He’ll work on it while you sleep. When you’ve done all you know to do, the physical act of placing your prayer request in a jar (representing God’s hands so to speak), is very powerful for allowing the mind to let go of a problem enough to sleep.
You may find that journaling is also helpful for letting go of problems that keep your mind on a mental “gerbil wheel.” Brain dump your thoughts and feelings in the journal then fill your mind with grateful thoughts or bible promises.
What do you do after work to relax and recharge for the evening? I would love to hear your ideas!