8 Unexpected Ways To Unwind After A Really Long Day

Although we’d all like to think we have our lives totally figured out, the truth is, plenty of us struggle to find the right balance between work and everything else. At the end of most days, we’re desperate to unwind and spend some quality time alone. And while curling up on the couch and binging a true-crime docuseries is certainly one way to relax, there are plenty of stress relievers you probably haven’t thought of that’ll do even more work for you.

In partnership with Hӓagen-Dazs®, we’re bringing you eight fresh ways to leave your worries at your apartment doorstep. From lying down with weighted eye pillows to trying self-massage techniques, these unexpected activities will help put you at ease ASAP. So put down the TV remote and click through for inspiration to feel your most Zen. Who knows, maybe the secret to a well-balanced life is easier than you think.

HAAGEN-DAZS® is used under license. © HDIP, Inc.

Make a list of what makes you happiest.

Instead of dwelling on what’s stressing you out, take the opposite approach: Open up a fresh notebook (we like 52 Lists For Happiness), and make a list of the good things in life. Maybe it’s a lineup of your best accomplishments or a collection of your favorite books. No matter how you choose to find your happy, let it all out on paper. And don’t forget to dress up your list with a few personalized doodles or fancy hand-lettering.

Illustrated by Louisa Cannell.

Lie down with a weighted blanket or eye pillow.

It may sound contradictory to apply pressure to relieve pressure, but if you have anxiety or insomnia (or just need to find your calm), a weighted blanket or weighted eye pillow might just do the trick. While you’ll reap the most benefits from extended use, we suggest trying one out during a post-work nap or while you’re listening to relaxing music in bed. The heavy weight is said to reduce anxiety, aid insomnia through decreased mobility, and increase feelings of calmness. In other words, it’s like a giant, cozy hug.

Illustrated by Louisa Cannell.

Treat yourself to some ice cream — straight out of the tub.

There’s something instantly calming about resorting to childhood habits. And that’s exactly how we feel about grabbing a pint of Hӓagen-Dazs® ice cream from the freezer, sticking a spoon in it, and kicking back for a treat after a long day. With countless flavors, it’s hard to choose one, but some of our favorites include Midnight Cookies & Cream (for an updated take on an old classic), TRIO Vanilla Caramel White Chocolate (for triple the flavor), and Raspberry Sorbet (for a refreshing zing of fruit).

Illustrated by Louisa Cannell.

Guide your body through progressive muscle relaxation.

There are tons of guided relaxation techniques that can calm your heart rate and provide instantaneous results. Out of the many, progressive muscle relaxation is by far our favorite. The method involves tensing up isolated muscle groups — like your toes, thighs, or face — for five to 10 seconds and then releasing for 30 seconds. As you move from one muscle group to the next, you’ll find yourself thinking less about annoying office drama and more about steadying your breath and actively letting go.

Illustrated by Louisa Cannell.

Watch a playlist of “oddly satisfying” videos.

You’ve probably scrolled past one of these videos on your way to stalk an old friend on Instagram. Sometimes, it’s a pair of hands pressing into slime. Other times, it’s a knife repetitively slicing into a block of kinetic sand. There’s no denying these videos are “oddly satisfying.” But it’s more nuanced than you might think. These videos are linked to mood management theory, which refers to the effects certain genres of media can have on your mood. In this case, they give us an instant sense of tranquility — and it’s easy to watch them for hours.

Illustrated by Louisa Cannell.

Wash your dishes the old-fashioned way.

Most days, it’s easy enough to stick our dirty dishes in the dishwasher and let it do all the hard work for us. But hear us out for a second: Washing your dishes by hand might actually be the key to unwinding after a rough day. According to a study conducted in 2015, mindful dishwashing may decrease nervousness and increases mental stimulation. The idea is that, as you focus on the mundane, methodical movements of washing your kitchenware, your problems will begin to float away. As an added bonus, your kitchen will be clean!

Illustrated by Louisa Cannell.

Do a de-stressing self-massage.

Don’t have the money for a proper spa day? We feel you. Luckily, everyday knots can be relieved through various self-massage methods. For example, if you slouch at your desk all day and have tension in your shoulders as a result, find the pressure point where the shoulder and neck meet and firmly press down for 10 seconds with your fingers. You should feel relief in no time.

Illustrated by Louisa Cannell.

Put on headphones and listen to nature sounds.

In 2018, there’s no need to equate “white noise” sounds with the ones that came pre-loaded on our old digital alarm clocks. There are countless, wildly specific sounds you can listen to — from an air conditioner to rain falling on a dock — and it’s not uncommon to zone out with three-hour-long meditative playlists. Our favorites? Nature sounds. Studies suggest that listening to these sounds — be it a rainstorm, crickets, or chirping birds — directs attention away from inward thoughts and toward the outward sounds. So grab your headphones, put on a playlist, and throw on that weighted blanket while you’re at it.

Illustrated by Louisa Cannell.

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