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12 Scientifically Proven Ways to Unwind After Work

There are blankets, and then there are *weighted* blankets

Cara Hutto
Contributor

tired woman

After a long, draining day at work, there’s nothing better than finally coming home to unwind. Everyone de-stresses differently, and believe it or not, there are more ways to relax than just curling up on the couch with a pint of Ben & Jerry’s in one hand and the TV remote in the other. 

Carving out time to practice self-care will make you a happier, healthier employee in the long run, so we’ve done some research and found 12 activities that are scientifically proven to boost your mood, help you de-stress, or simply distract you from what’s going on at the office. 

Here are 12 ways to better unwind after work:

1. Go for a run or walk 

It’s not a secret that exercising regularly will improve your health. When you come home from work, try slipping on your workout clothes and hitting the pavement. According to science, running keeps your brain young, fights off anxiety, and boosts your mood. If you aren’t a runner like me, taking a brisk walk will do the job just fine (and it gives you a chance to finish the end of that true crime podcast).

Read more: 11 Podcasts We Keep Coming Back To

2. Journal

Okay, seriously, there are tons and tons of benefits to journaling. Skip the surface-level scribbles about your crushes and get to the juicy stuff. Writing down your daily emotions, goals, and realizations can help you cope with stress, clarify your thoughts, and problem-solve more effectively—not to mention you’ll get to know yourself better. 

Read more: Why You Should Keep A Work Journal

3. Read a good book 

Reading is the perfect way to allow yourself to escape reality after work and dive into an entirely different world. Not only is it great for entertainment, reading can help improve your memory, increase your attention span, and reduce stress levels. Helllooo, new library card.

Read more: 12 Female Leadership Books to Pump You Up

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4. Lay under a weighted blanket

Regardless of whether you watch a documentary, draw, or solve a crossword puzzle under a weighted blanket, the blanket will almost instantly put you at ease after work. There are tons of benefits to weighted blankets, some of the large ones being reduced anxiety, better sleep, and pressure relief

Read more: 8 Tips for Dealing With Anxiety in the Workplace

5. Cook yourself dinner

Personally, cooking something delectable is my favorite way to unwind—I find it completely therapeutic. Turns out, I’m not alone. Cooking and baking are proven to boost your mood and your creativity—there’s something about measuring out ingredients and following a recipe that makes us feel in control, especially when we may feel helpless in other areas of life outside the kitchen. So, next time you’re feeling crummy (ha, ha) after work, pull out your mixing bowl and whip up something delicious.

Read more: 24 Beautiful Desk Lunches That Are Our Entire Mood Right Now

6. Listen to your favorite playlist 

Billy Joel once said, “I think music in itself is healing. It’s an explosive expression of humanity. It’s something we are all touched by. No matter what culture we’re from,” and he was completely right. Music is definitely a way to heal and unwind after work. It can help you sleep better, reduce depression symptoms, and generally make you feel happier. Crank up the tunes!

7. Turn off your phone 

When you leave the office, you should leave work at work and stop checking those emails. Keeping your eyes glued to screens all day can have detrimental effects on your sleep and melatonin levels. So the best way to unwind after work is to shut your phone down and enjoy some tech-free time—unless you want to stay awake all night counting sheep. 

Read more: Social Media Detox 101: How to Take One & Why It Matters

8. Craft and create

Whether it’s knitting, painting, or making jewelry, crafting is a great way to unwind after work. Creativity-focused activities like these allow our brains release dopamine, which is a natural antidepressant. According to research, indulging our creativity not only bolsters our mental health, but our physical health, too

9. Clean the house

Contrary to popular belief, cleaning isn’t always a dreaded chore. Cleaning and organizing your personal space can help you unwind while keeping you healthier and happier—and might lead you to view your home as more restful and restorative. Next time you need to unwind after work, let out your pent-up stress by vacuuming furiously fast around the house. 

10. Drink a glass of red 

You’ve heard the rumors. According to real doctors, *a* glass of red wine a day for women can help stave off depression and improve your mood. That’s right, kick your feet up, watch those wine legs swirl, and let loose. 

11. Watch oddly satisfying videos

There’s a reason why thousands of people have become obsessed with watching these oddly satisfying ASMR videos like soap and kinetic sand cutting. These types of videos are linked to mood management theory, and basically implicitly make us feel more calm. Just don’t get roped into hours of mindlessly watching someone play with slime. 

12. Give yourself a massage

A little massage goes a long way. Massage therapy is proven to reduce stress and anxiety and can even increase your serotonin levels over time, according to scientists.

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