REJOICE. It’s Friday! Good Lord, the weekend is here and now I can spend my nights wearing too much makeup and my mornings sleeping in.
But only for a day or two. My life gets pretty busy. I’m often even working on evenings and weekends– not 100 percent of the time, but enough lately to just run me ragged. I have a two week vacation coming up and I. Cannot. Wait. But until then, all the pressure is building to work, work, work. I need a mental break to de-stress.
I find when I get too wound up, I disconnect from the world around me. I start to isolate and feel emotionally flat. At times, I even forget why I’m staying up until midnight writing and researching things, waking up at 5:30 am and getting to a full-time job, only to come home, eat some food and then get back to work until midnight again (it’s only temporary. I can’t do this forever!).
I’m sure my blood pressure rises and it will probably lead to all other sorts of health problems, too. Mental rest gives your mind (and body) the chance to reconnect, breathe deeply and find equanimity in stressful situations. This, in turn, can help you get back to that sense of purpose.
I put together a list of some of my favorite ways to mentally recharge after a tough day, week, month or whatever other length of time you’ve been terribly, horribly stressed and losing the plot.
- Do something active for like, five minutes. Try some weird stretching (AKA yoga) at your desk. Stand up, stretch, breathe in that refreshing, office air (read: air conditioned, recycled, probably full of dust particles containing the skin of your coworkers. Sorry. Gross, right? Try to ignore that part). Do some progressive muscle relaxation, which you can do sitting in your desk chair. If you have an office, that’s even better because then no one will see how weird you’re being while you de-stress.
Get a little extra sleep than normal. You may sleep till noon on Saturdays, but during the week you’re getting 5-6 hours of sleep on average. Sleep is so, so important– I’d recommend actually fixing that screwed up sleep schedule and getting the 7-9 hours you need, but since we know that you’re an important person with a job (or two), that’s not going to happen. Sleep deprivation has been linked to all sorts of problems (weight gain, memory loss, among other things) and has even been linked as a precursor to Alzheimer’s. Try foregoing just one morning ritual after a day you’ve been particularly stressed, and sleep for that extra 20 minutes– not more, not less, just 20– it will keep you out of deep sleep, but still feel like a treat. Of all rituals to skip, though, please don’t forego brushing your teeth. Your coworkers will thank you.
- Take a technology fast. Turn off your phone, log yourself out of Facebook and step away from the computer. Being connected all of the time means we are together even when we are alone. That can be cool if you’re really codependent or totally jonesing for the next hit of ego-sugar that comes from posting 10 selfies on Instagram a day, but being actively engaged with others, even when alone, doesn’t give your mind the break needed from disconnecting. At least for me. I’m an introvert, though, and so it might be different for you extrovert types. Jealous. Instead of spending time glued to the screen, write in a journal. Do something that gets you into flow– choose activities that are enjoyable, where you lose your sense of time and you can give your mind a break. “Flow” activities like this must give more energy than it takes. This helps you recharge. Hell, you might even organize that pile of stuff under your desk you’ve been meaning to get to for ages. I’ve just been covering mine up with a paper-recycling bin so nobody can see how much of a hot mess I really am. Shh.
Sing loudly in the car too or from work. Especially songs where you can belt it out terribly. Yes, I am that girl pretending she is Lana Del Rey at the stoplight at 5:15 pm. Every song is about the same damn person and let’s be real, it feels so good to sing! Recent studies show that singing has the same health benefits as exercise because it releases endorphins and helps relieve anxiety and stress. Singing in the car is the best part about my commute, until I pull up to someone who has their windows down and our music clashes. Ugh, I can’t deal with Robin Thicke right now, I’m on a Hollywood Sadcore trip! Roll your window up, peasant!
- Take a break to focus on the things you already have around you. Pull out a post-it note or a piece of paper and write down some of your successes (for example: Got out of bed today. Took shower. Made myself real lunch like a real adult). Acknowledge all of the things you’ve done well and the skills that you’ve developed. Be proud of that shit. You’re amazing. And when you think of the things you might regret, shift your focus for a second on where you want to go now. The past is done, man. Move on, it’s not the end of the world. Things can only get better from here.
What are some of your favorite ways to recharge? Share in the comments below.
Elle Groves is a freelance reporter, writer and blogger bent on deconstructing diet culture and keeping her life full of food, fitness, family and friends. She is currently writing a novel that spans the rise and fall of a girl’s struggle with eating disorders and her DIY-recovery. Find her on Twitter @ellegrows or contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org