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Best Relaxation Tools-For Free

You wake up, get to work, do your best and give it your all, come home and even though you’re away from the work world you find it’s hard to compartmentalize your life and leave work at work. Even if you’re able to focus on your family and home duties it’s hard sometimes to really “come down” from work mode, especially on a hard day. Really this is why a lot of people might end up overusing alcohol to help them relax, because it really is fast and effective—at first. By the way, if you work in any helping profession or even customer service the ability to relax after work is all the more difficult because you’ve focused your whole day on giving care to others with probably very little time to think about your own needs.

You might grab for that after work cocktail or wine every now and then but may notice it doesn’t help after a while. Smoking, another coping tool that’s “unsustainable” will really be about feeling normal instead of feeling calm. Our society is built on a consumeristic dynamic where we don’t work necessarily all the time, but we work enough that there’s not really enough time to truly wind down for the day or even week so we have to fast track relaxation through hit or miss techniques such as drinking, smoking, eating high sugar foods, going out to eat, spending money we don’t really need to spend, etc. This is what they call, “The grind” I guess.

So what are the best tools for unhooking from our work life and being able to truly relax at home? Believe it or not, some of these tools are entirely free and may only require some technology.

1. Mindful meditation

Mindfulness is a collection of several techniques that allows people to remain connected to the present moment. This sounds simple, but if you notice in the present moment, you are very rarely in danger. Most anxiety or stress you experience is about the future, which can’t be made better by extra worrying by the way. If you can train yourself to regularly connect to the present moment, not only will you increase your sense of felt safety, you’ll be able to regulate your emotions and internal stress much more effectively when stress really does come up. Unless you work a physically draining job, and assuming most of your exhaustion from the work day is due to constant decisions and executing tasks, you’re likely feeling exhausted because of your brain going into overdrive. Connecting with the present moment throughout the day can help proactively reduce your exhaustion and increase your energy reserves by the end of the day. If you want to know where to get started, hop over to the Mindful Moments tab and try out a few exercises!

2. Breathing right

As dumb as it sounds, we’re simply not breathing correctly most of the time. If you notice the way you breath, it’s possible you’re breathing with your chest and not through your mid-abdomen. Training yourself to breath through your abdomen as opposed to your chest can help your body make better use of the oxygen you’re taking in. Breathing in through your chest is actually part of a stress response (you begin shallow breathing typically in a fight or flight response) so if you’re breathing through your chest, you’re really just using the parts of your body that are signaling stress instead of safety. This is likely because—you’re stressed. But remember, if you connect with your present moment, most of the time you're physically and literally safe, and you and your body deserve to relish that safety. Pay attention for even a couple minutes to how you’re breathing, and just try to breath through your abdomen for a couple minutes per day. After awhile, it’ll start to feel more natural. Breathing exercises also help, but not always while you’re stressed. The best way to use specific breathing exercises is like brushing you’re teeth: find a regular time to do them daily or even a couple times a week, and you’ll regularly activate the nerve in your body responsible for regulating your emotional/threat response system. The better you can keep that regulated and strong, the more capable you’ll be to handle stress in the moment and when you walk away from it.

3. Journaling

Most people don’t really like journaling because it might take a certain level of intentionality that no one really has the emotional space for anymore. While this is understandable, journaling even on a small scale can be helpful for self-awareness and helping to connect in that present moment or reflect on something that bothered you during the day. While it would cost a small amount to buy a simple journal for journaling purposes, you could splurge a little on yourself and get something nice. But if you have a computer and internet access already, you can do this relatively for free on several different websites devoted to private journaling.

4. Rituals

This is a broad tool. Rituals can refer to how we approach each part of our day as well as specific asks or routines we put in place for the meaning those routines offer us. If you’re a person of either obligation or existentialism, having a ritual over a routine can help maintain some level of motivation through your day. This is because if you find you’re exhausted by the menial tasks that make up life, then your maintenance tasks would benefit with having some kind of ritual attached. Ritual as in, some aspect of the routine that offers meaning. Having a ritual helps your mind signify times to do and feel specific things. We already have rituals. If you celebrate any holidays as part of your culture, your ritual on these days might consist of activities that invoke joy, happiness, or even honor, respect and melancholy. As a relaxation tool, you can utilize the concept of rituals to help yourself transition into a different role, which is really what winding down is all about. Maybe when you come home, your ritual starts as you immediately changing into “home clothes,” completing a 2 minute mindfulness activity, journaling for another 10 or so minutes about brief experiences during your day, and lighting a scented candle that helps remind you of something joyful or peaceful. Engaging in a ritual such as this on a daily basis can help your mind trigger the feelings associated with this ritual consistently.

These are just a few simple, basically free ways in which you can enjoy relaxation at home after a long day instead carrying your stress with you the rest of the day. While these ideas take some time and consistency, they have an accumulated effect that can provide more consistent, reliable results than your occasional glass of wine. So give it a shot! Don’t forget to stop by the Café and share your rituals or relaxation tips with everyone else! Also, if you’re looking for ways to include meditation into your relaxation routine, stop by Mindful Moments for a few guided exercises that you can play anytime and download for free! Know that this is not an exhaustive list, but really just a short list to get you thinking more creatively and resourcefully on how you can implement more relaxation techniques in your own life--you know, ones that you can buy into emotionally but don't wake up with a hangover.


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