Some days you’re the bug. Somedays you’re the windshield. This is life. Did you know that stress reduces our levels of serotonin and dopamine neurotransmitters which play an important role in our mood, energy and motivation? After a tough day, you might be tempted to park yourself on the couch in front of TV till bedtime, but this isn’t a good way to recharge after a long day. While it might feel good in the moment, it won’t give you the mood and energy lift you need after a rough day.
7 Ways To Recharge After A Long Day
1. Disconnect & Unplug
After a stress-filled day, you need to reduce the stimulation your brain is receiving. This means turning off your phone for some “away” time. It might be tempting to sit on the couch with your phone all night checking emails, responding to texts, or getting lost on Facebook or Instagram. But this will only increase your brain activity and make you feel more energized than relaxed.
Turn your phone off and put it in a drawer in a room in your house that’s out of the way, or leave it in your car. Don’t touch it again until after you’ve had a good night’s rest. Trust me, it will be OK. The world won’t end. ????
2. Get Some Fresh Air & Sunshine
If the sun is still out after your rough day, put on some comfy shoes and head outside for a quick walk. Exposure to the sunlight helps your brain release serotonin, which helps boost your mood and helps you feel calm and focused. Exercise is also one of the best ways you can improve your mood. It helps you relieve stress and sleep better at night. Even if the sun has set, some activity outside can still help because the exercise and fresh air will help you feel more invigorated.
3. Take A Quick Nap
Sometimes after a rough day a quick 30 minute nap can be just what you need to reset yourself and catch a second wind. Head to the bedroom or a quiet place at home where you can block out as much light and noise as possible and close your eyes. Set a timer as anything longer than 30 minutes can disrupt your sleep at night.
If you’re like me and napping during the day is impossible, opt for a quick 10-15 minute meditation. There are dozens of great apps you can download for free to assist in this process so all you have to do is pop in some earbuds, sit or lay back and close your eyes and follow along. Some of my favorite apps: Brain.fm, Headspace, Calm, Insight Timer, and HM (Health Minds Program).
4. Wash Up!
For some, a quick shower to wash the day away can be one of the most effective ways to recharge after a long day. Or you could draw up a nice bubble bath and grab a book or put on some chill music and close your eyes for a few minutes. If you’ve never tried either of these to recharge after a long day, I highly recommend it. For me, nothing beats a quick 5 minute cool shower to catch my second wind and clear my head.
5. Put Something Healthy In Your Stomach
While it may be tempting to grab that back of Jalapeño Cheetos calling your name in the pantry or a pint of Haagen-Daz, it’s the last thing you need. Yes, it will taste good and you will enjoy it. But that will only last as long as you’re actually consuming it. Shortly after, you’ll probably beat yourself up and will feel miserable – physically and mentally.
Instead. fuel your body with protein, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. These foods will slowly release energy into your bloodstream so you’ll get a mental boost as well from the feel-good result of eating healthy.
6. Plan Something Fun
For a lot of folks, having something to look forward to is almost a necessity. Sometimes just having something fun looming on the calendar can be all we need to keep our negative thoughts at bay. If you don’t have anything interesting coming up, sit down for a few minutes a conjure something up. It can be anything from a long overdue lunch with your bestie or a week long vacation to the Caribbean.
7. Focus on gratitude
Guess what? The verdict is in and gratitude works. The best part is you don’t even have to believe in it for it to work. Grab a journal and start jotting down some things your grateful for. It can be anything from the cold beverage you might be enjoying to the supportive partner you have to the warm bed or the home you live in. Research has clearly demonstrated that focusing on what we are grateful for can instantly shift your thinking and your mood.
Everyone has rough days now and then. This is a normal, healthy part of life. With the right perspective and response, these can even be a positive thing as it prevents us from taking the good days for granted. However, if you feel like everyday is a rough day and you’re constantly trying to find ways to recharge after a long day, you might be struggling with burnout and it would be wise to find a well trained therapist you like and trust to help you take a closer look and revaluate things.
James Killian, LPC is the Principal Therapist & Owner of Arcadian Counseling in Greater New Haven, CT where they specialize in helping over-thinkers, high achievers, and perfectionists reduce stress, increase fulfillment and enhance performance so they can move From Surviving To Thriving.