Most of us spend our days working, whether in a traditional workplace, at home, or at school. When we end our work for the day, it's increasingly more common to not be able to "shut off." Some of this has to do with the expectations demanded of us, but other parts are simply habit. We go, go, go, then expect to be able to stop—but we're out of practice.
Think about your own afternoon and early evening: Maybe you leave work, sit in traffic, listen to the news or make a phone call, pick up the kids, make dinner, help with homework, answer emails, clean up from dinner, get ready to start it all over again tomorrow, then fall into bed exhausted.
There's no transition, no downtime tucked in there. And it's all too familiar to most of us.
These mindfulness self-care tips can help you wind down or de-stress at the end of the day. When we're multitasking, it's difficult to be mindful as our attention span can only focus successfully on one thing at a time. These tips can also help you break the cycle of multitasking so that you're able to be more "in the moment" in your life.
1. Start by focusing on balance.
For many of us, work means using a computer, so actively using our bodies helps us wind down. If you work a physically demanding job, then maybe you find balance by sitting down for a while and watching a program or listening to music.
2. Stretch the body as well as the mind.
You don't need to walk for an hour or do a full yoga practice. Moving the body for a few minutes—one or two yoga poses—can get the blood flowing and give your mind a break.
3. Watch life unfold around you.
We spend all day making things happen, and one of my favorite ways to wind down is to sit in nature. I live in northern New Hampshire and recently watched a squirrel sneak away with a slice of pizza from the garbage, then use it like a sled as it scampered away down the snowy hill! Wildlife has a way of lifting my spirits. Pause and be still, and you'll be surprised at what you witness in even a short time.
4. Come to your senses.
Stimulating the senses can signal to our bodies that we're shifting our focus. Maybe you like to light a candle or put on music at the end of the day. Try using lemon balm essential oil (or any other scent you like) in a homemade spritzer with a bit of rosewater and rubbing alcohol. By spraying an essential oil, it releases a calming scent that immediately relaxes tension.
5. Sit, sip, and savor.
When I sit in nature, I love bringing a warm drink with me. Gaia Herbs Golden Milk is full, nourishing, and yummy, and I like that it honors the Ayurvedic tradition of nurturing one's self. Every day, there are a lot of functions your body has to do to get through the day, so giving yourself time and space to unwind really matters. I like Golden Milk's bright color, and seeing that vibrancy and smelling the herbs gives me a nice quieting and calming sense.
To make the Golden Milk, I start with coconut milk for richness and add a dash of molasses for the minerals. Knowing that every time I taste turmeric, it's offering me liver support, supporting my inflammatory response and overall just nourishing my body, it feels good to me. With each sip, I let go.
6. Use your downtime mindfully.
When you find yourself in those "waiting" moments in life (10 minutes sitting in the parking lot for school to let out, three minutes in line at the grocery store, 15 minutes in the waiting room at the doctor's office, etc.) consider how you are present in those moments. Instead of reaching for your phone to browse social media, perhaps you try listening to a podcast, reading a good book, or just being attentive to your surroundings by watching your breath. These pockets of mindfulness make it easier to ground and reconnect at the end of a long day.
7. Find your favorite—but not all at once.
Sometimes we struggle to relax because it feels like one more thing on the to-do list. Don't force it, and think about the amount of time you have and the energy you want to devote right now. Maybe tonight you unwind by letting the cat stay on your lap as long as she wants or cozying up on the couch sipping a delicious cup of Golden Milk. On Fridays, you might have time for a long walk, but during the week it might just be a few minutes of strolling through your garden. Build up a nice arsenal of things to choose from, and go with the flow!