When you've had a long, stressful day, your initial reaction may be to plop yourself down on the couch and complain about what happened. Sometimes that works, but other times, all you want is to come home to some happier thoughts. It's easy to get bogged down by all the frustrations of your day, but these little rituals might be able to help you leave stress behind.
Vent Before You Get Home
Sometimes the stress is so bad, you just need to vent, and that's fine. Letting off steam can be a good thing—but if that's all you do as soon as you walk in the door, it's all you're going to focus on for the rest of the night. If you need to vent to someone, try to do it before you get home—maybe call or text your partner while you take a short walk outside to unwind, or go to happy hour with a friend before you head back to your place. Try to keep all the negative thoughts out of your apartment, so when you get home, you (and the people who live with you) can truly relax.
Turn Your Commute Into a Relaxing Experience
Your commute home from work is the best time to get yourself into a less-frazzled state of mind. If you take public transportation, make yourself a de-stress playlist, pop on your headphones and take some deep breaths to unwind, or read a book—it'll get you to focus on something other than the bad parts of your day. If you drive yourself, try keeping an essential oil diffuser in your car—lavender oil can help you relax. (And yep, you can also listen to that de-stress playlist while you drive.)
Wash Up and Change as Soon as You Get Home
If you've had a long and crazy day, you likely want nothing more than to plop down on the couch. But before you do, you should wash up and change into some comfortable non-work clothes. You already know how much better it feels to put on sweats after a long day, but washing your hands can actually help you unwind and put your mind at ease, too—it turns out the idea of "washing your hands of" something isn't all that far off. According to a study from the University of Michigan, hand-washing can help you feel better if you're having doubts about something you did or that happened that day.
Make Dinner Ahead of Time for Busy Days
The last thing you want to do when you walk in the door after a rough day is cook a meal—it requires effort, and if you're feeling super stressed and emotionally drained, effort like that is just not your friend. Do yourself a huge favor and prepare ahead of time when you know you've got a busy day scheduled. Cook dinner the night before, so you can just heat it up when you get home—knowing all you have to do is pop a dish in the stove or microwave will make you feel relief when you walk in the door, rather than dread. And when you have free time, make freezable meals for future you to defrost whenever you're feeling down or overwhelmed.