The Best Ways to Relax After A Stressful Day

The Best Ways to Relax After a Stressful Day2018 Update: We still think this is a great discussion about the best ways to relax after a stressful day, but you may also want to check out our recent discussion of how do you deal with overwhelm.

Here’s a fun topic: what are the best ways to relax after a stressful day? We had an open thread about ways to relax a thousand years ago (well, 2010), and we’ve talked about ways to turn off work mode and how to turn a bad day around, but it’s been a while there too. So let’s hear it, ladies — what are your favorite ways to relax after a stressful day? What things do you do on the daily to help you unwind — and what things do you build into your schedule regularly to help reduce stress and help you relax? Do tricks like rituals or compartmentalization help you relax?

For my $.02, as I’ve mentioned before I read super silly brain candy books at bedtime, which usually helps me with whatever anxiety is ailing me that day (or unwind from whatever outrage-inducing thing I read in the news or on Facebook that evening) — and if I’m really stressed out I may just get into bed after the kids are down and read my book or play on my iPad instead of settling in front of the TV. I can never quite get the hang of doing serious exercising at night, but a long walk & talk on my cell phone often helps me relax. If I’m skittish and overthinking things, making lists sometimes helps me relax because the list becomes a brain dump — and it lets me know that I can hit the ground running the next day. I’m not really a bubble bath person, but a long hot shower at the end of the day is also a good way to unwind. This is probably as close as I get to a ritual — if I’ve had a stressful day I actively think it’s time to “wash the day off and start fresh.” In terms of semi-regular things, a massage always helps get rid of knots — if I’m really tense and can’t get away I sometimes try to do foam rolling with the guidance of videos like this one from Livestrong/Ashley Borden. Also in terms of semi-regular things (I guess?), I recently started going to Mass again, mostly because I’m forcing my 6 year old to do PSR and his classes are at the same time — and it’s been interesting to note how just sitting quietly for 45-60 minutes is relaxing, even if I’m not really listening or following along with the Mass — no phone to play with, no 10,000 tabs open (either mentally or literally), no to-do lists… (I know, bad Catholic!).

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What’s Your After-Work Routine?

the best after-work routine for career women2018 Update: We still think an after-work routine is essential for work-life balance — and you may want to check out our most recent discussion of work-life boundaries

Here’s a fun topic: what is your after-work routine?  Do you have one that’s necessitated by outside factors (must walk dog, pick up kids, etc) or internal factors (must put on gym clothes and go to gym immediately)?  Do you find that it helps you transition your mindset to a more relaxing one?  What do you do at the beginning of the day (prepare food, lay out clothes, etc) to help your after-work routine along?

As I’ve mentioned before, I do think an after-work routine can be a powerful way to segue from workmode to me-mode.  My own after-work routine always involved changing into jeans when I got home from the office — it helped me feel like I could “be myself” and relax without putting pajamas on; I also found that I was more capable of hanging up dry-clean only work clothes neatly if I did it before total exhaustion set in.  (I usually had already eaten dinner at the office or out and about with a friend.)  I’ve never been great about being productive in the evenings (unless you count socializing), and personally workouts only happen if I exercise in the morning (sigh).  These days, with small kids, my after-work routine is mostly driven by outside factors — reconnect with kids, make/buy/eat dinner, bathtime/bedtime GOGOGO.  By the time the kids are asleep I usually space out for a while, watching TV and fussing with my iPad.  I’ve discovered that I get a second wind around 10 PM, when I’ll sometimes work on personal projects (family albums, family research and planning, etc) or try to shop for future TPS/coffee break posts — but I’m starting to realize the better move is to go to bed before I get that second wind, hopefully so I can get up early to get focus work done, like writing (or, hey, working out) before the kids get up around 6:30 am.

How about you, ladies — what is your after-work routine?  Do you have a schedule of after-work activities (gym class, book club, etc)?  Given your druthers would you prefer relaxing time or productive time — and at night, or in the morning?

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Open Thread: How to Turn Off Work Mode

How to Turn Off Work Mode - Advice, Tips and Tricks2018 Update: We still stand by this discussion of how to turn off work mode, but you may also want to check out our more recent discussion of how to create strong work-life boundaries, as well as the best ways to relax after a stressful day

I have a question for you ladies: how do you turn off work mode? Marie Forleo had a video on this a week ago, and I haven’t stopped thinking about it ever since I saw it, so I thought it would be an interesting conversation. We’ve talked before about how to relax, as well as about juggling work and life (um: a post I finished from the postpartum ward of the hospital…), but not in a long while. I was particularly struck by this part of Forleo’s video:

When it’s time for me to shift out of work mode, I think of myself as butter and [my fiance as] the toast.  … This comfort food is best when the toast is like firm and stiff and the butter is soft and velvety and creamy and spreads all over the place.  So I know that’s a little dumb, but it actually works — it’s a really easy metaphor to remember, and it affects my physicality, it affects my voice, and I can slip into it really fast.

I’ve been thinking about this far too much — I am so not warm butter! (I’m more like cold butter if anything — barely melting, maintaining its own little form and function.) So here’s the question, guys: How do you disconnect from work? Do you have an easy metaphor to think of (or some other strategy you use) when you’re with your loved ones?

(Updating, just to be clear: this struck me as an odd analogy also, which is why I wanted to talk about it here with you guys!  As commenter cbackson noted below, the desire to not to have to be such a hard-ass when you get home from work is not a gendered one — and as other commenters note, turning off work mode can be easier for men.  Maybe this gets into shades of the weekend you — do you have a very different persona at home? How do you slip into or out of it? Or is it enough for you to create rituals (changing clothes, putting away devices) to slip out of work mode?)

(Pictured: apricot and raisin toast, originally uploaded to Flickr by penguincakes.)how to turn off work mode - image of butter on toast

It can be really tough for women lawyers, executives, and others to turn off work mode when they come home -- and there was an interesting video from Marie Forleo describing her own method of thinking of toast -- so we talked about it. Great discussion with the readers!

The Schism: How to Keep Your Work Life Separate From Your Personal Life

how to keep your work life separate from your personal life2018 Update: We still stand by this discussion of how to keep your work life separate from your personal life — but you may also want to check out our most recent discussion of work-life boundaries.

I read somewhere recently that people are well-advised to keep their office keys separate from their home keys. While I’ve never done that, I started thinking about the different ways that I have tried to keep my personal life separate from my professional life, and thought it might be a fun topic for an Open Thread.

1. Keys. I’ve actually always kept office keys on the same chain as regular keys (but on a separate ring if that makes sense), but primarily because I’m forgetful with keys and never wanted to show up at home or at work and realize I’d forgotten my keys for the appropriate locks. [Read more…]

Dealing with Anxiety (Post-Interview Or Otherwise)

dealing-with-post-interview-anxiety2016 Update: We still stand by the advice below on dealing with post-interview anxiety — but you may also want to check out our latest discussion on how to focus on work (when your thoughts are elsewhere). 

Reader M had a question about post-interview anxiety, something I notice coming up in the comment threads a lot…

I had a second round interview this week, and I’m waiting to hear back. The job is working in-house for a big company. Their legal team is spread throughout their offices, so my first interview was with HR, then my second interview was with their VP Legal Counsel and another Senior Counsel attorney. I think it went well, but I’m so anxious. My first question is what to do with anxiety while waiting to hear back about a job? My second question is if anyone has stories from successful interviews that might shed light on whether or not it went well.

The wonderful thing about interviewing for jobs outside your own company is that they have no idea what a stressball you may be after the interview. (Of course, for jobs inside the company you have to keep your cool, which is even tougher — but hopefully less stress-inducing given that you can “read” the personalities better and they know you better.) There are two interesting questions here: what to do to ease anxiety, and how to know if an interview went well.  I’ll take the second one first.

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