Relaxation Tips: 5 Easy Ways to Reduce Stress and Unwind

Want to truly de-stress? Try turning off the TV, grabbing a trowel, being a little selfish, and enlisting these other simple, surefire strategies for improving your well-being by tapping your inner calm.

| May 16, 2012

The following is an excerpt from Better Each Day: 365 Expert Tips for a Healthier, Happier You by Jessica Cassity (Chronicle Books, 2011). 

Decompress During Your Commute

Whether it takes you minutes or hours to get home from the office, all work-related thoughts should be history by the time you step in the front door, says Gabriela Corá, M.D., founder of the Executive Health & Wealth Institute in Miami. To ease the transition from work to home, make the most of your drive, walk or subway ride.

“If you’re still on the phone and checking emails after you leave work, your commute is just an extension of your day at the office,” Corá explains. To arrive home fresh, shift your attention away from your job. If you’re driving a car, listen to music, a comedy show or an audio book to divert your thoughts. If you’re riding a train or bus, read an enjoyable book or play games on your mobile phone.

According to Corá, some people may be able to make the shift from work mode to the rest of their lives very quickly, but most of us require a 15- to 30-minute break. It may mean setting strict boundaries — like vowing not to check email until you’re back in the office — but it’s worth it. Taking the time you need to transition from office to home will help you to walk into your house refreshed and ready to enjoy your non-work hours.

Watching Television Doesn’t Actually Let You Unwind

The average adult watches more than four hours of television each day, according to the Nielsen ratings, largely in the name of “relaxation.” But the effects of TV are usually the exact opposite, says Marc Berman, Ph.D., a cognitive neuroscientist at the University of Michigan. “People think it’s restful, because it’s so easy to do — you just sit on the couch.” But, rather than walking away refreshed, you could feel crankier and more tired with too much TV time.

“A lot of television is designed to keep you totally engaged,” says Berman, who researches, among other things, the effect of different environments on memory and focus. So, while you may be hoping to give your mind a rest after a long day at work, you’re simply engaging in a different activity that still requires all of your attention resources.

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