However hard you try, when you first arrive home from work you can still feel slightly frazzled. Here are a few suggestions of healthy ways to spend your evening that’ll leave you feeling relaxed. They’ll have the double benefit of keeping you fitter and also leaving you better prepared to face the next day at work.
First, follow these simple tips to make sure you’re completely relaxed before you continue with your evening.
The first thing to do when you get home is to get changed into comfortable clothing. This signifies to your subconscious mind that work is over and done with and ‘me time’ has begun.
Rejuvenate your feet
If you’ve been wearing high heels or heavy boots all day go barefoot for a while. You may want to ease foot and ankle tension with some easy foot exercises, for example try writing your name in the air with your feet, or picking up a pencil from the floor with your toes.
Scrunch and stretch the toes out, and use your fingers to massage any sore spots.
Create a relaxing or energising atmosphere in your home, depending on how you feel. You might want to rid yourself of the stresses of the day by dancing around to your favourite music.
Or you might prefer to dim the lights, put on some chill-out music and infuse the air with calming scents, such as lavender, frankincense or jasmine.
Drink it up
Before you make a cup of tea, pour yourself a glass of wine or take a cold one from the fridge drink a large glass of water. Air-conditioned and heated offices are incredibly dehydrating. And, if you haven’t yet had enough fruit and veg, opt for a juice instead. Carrot, beet, celery, watercress, mango and strawberry are all packed with antioxidants to help your body deal with the effects of pollution, stress and fatigue.
Once you feel completely relaxed, it’s time to think about what to do with your evening. Making the most of the time you spend away from work, will leave you feeling more refreshed when you return the next day. Here’s how…
Healthy alternatives to watching TV
Watching TV is part of many people’s relaxation but be discerning about what you watch. Take a look at the listings while you drink your water or juice to see if there is anything you really want to watch rather than settling down with the remote control. If there isn’t anything on the TV why not do something completely different?
Pamper yourself, read a book or call a friend you haven’t spoken to in ages. Alternatively, spend some quality time with your partner or playing with the kids or the dog!
If your work day has left you feeling truly exhausted try this restorative yoga pose. Lie down facing a wall and shuffle your behind as close to it as you can. Then walk your legs up the wall, and hold the position with your arms by your sides, palms facing up. This restful position promotes blood flow back to the heart.
Head to the gym
If your brain feels sluggish after a day in a meeting room or in front of a computer terminal, liven it up with exercise. A study from the University of Illinois in the USA has found that physical activity increases blood flow to the brain, bringing fresh oxygen and glucose. The best time for exercise is between four and seven in the evening - which fits in perfectly with after work for most people.
It’s great if you can fit in your workout before you even go home, as that means the rest of your evening is truly free. If not, have your kit ready and waiting for you when you get home so you don’t get frustrated hunting around for your trainers and feel tempted to abandon your good intentions. While some research suggests that late evening workouts affect your ability to get to sleep, others have found that evening exercise can actually enhance your ability to drop off and improve the quality of your sleep. It’s best to see what works for you.
Tuck into healthy food
Whether you’ve been working out or enjoying an evening at the theatre, it really helps to have a meal ready or almost ready to eat when you get home. Make sure the fridge is stocked with healthy staples such as stir-fry ingredients, salad leaves, tomatoes, mushrooms, avocados, lean meats and low fat cheese.
Tins of salmon, sardines and tuna are useful, along with beans and pulses, brown rice and pasta. Why not make a batch of vegetable soup, ratatouille or stew and freeze it in single-serve helpings?
For real last-minute dinners, you don’t have to resort to the takeaway: choose a vegetable-rich soup from the chilled counter and eat with wholemeal bread or serve smoked mackerel with beetroot, a dollop of natural yogurt and salad leaves.
Have a bath
Don’t go to bed without a shower or bath, to help cleanse you both physically and mentally. Make sure the water isn’t too hot, as this will revive, rather than relax you. Remove any make-up, and nourish your face and body with moisturiser to help rehydrate skin. Cell renewal is at its most active overnight.
Keep a tidy bedroom
Keep your bedroom clean and clutter-free to aid a good night’s sleep. Bed is not the place to read a report for work or plan your presentation for a new client. If you still have work-related worries on your mind, write them down in a notebook under the heading ‘Things to think about tomorrow’ and then close it.