You've done everything you need to do: kids are in bed, kitchen is clean and work is done-- now, how to relax? You may have trouble winding down after work because you feel you should always be doing something: cooking, cleaning, or go back to work once the kids are in bed. But, relaxation is essential to your overall well-being and emotional health, so read on for suggestions for ending the day on a good note.
Savor a Good Drink
Enjoy your favorite soothing beverage. For some women, a cup of hot tea with lemon or honey does the trick. For others, a small (meaning 2-3 ounces) glass of red wine will soothe the spirit. It's not so much the drink itself that soothes as the ritual of slowing down, preparing and savoring something just for you.
Studies show that moderate exercise performed a few hours before bed will not disturb your sleep and can, in fact, help you sleep better. You might want to establish a routine of gentle exercise in the early evening, such as a yoga routine, Pilates, or Tai Chi--all of which reduce stress and are gentle enough for women of all abilities to perform.
Read a Book
Go to your local library or favorite bookstore and find a good book, something you'll look forward to reading every night. But be sure to limit your reading time so you aren't up all night trying to find out what happens next!
Get In Touch
Spend a little time really communicating with others. Now that the kids are in bed, spend some quality time with your husband. Send emails or call loved ones who live far away. Use your downtime to really connect with others.
TV gets a really bad rep, but like everything, TV is just fine in moderation. It's when you zone out on the couch for hours that TV becomes a problem. So, why not pick a few TV shows that are your "must-sees" every week? Make catching those shows a ritual--pop some popcorn and watch with your husband or friends - make it a social event.
Enjoy a Hobby
You spend so much time doing things for others, now find a hobby that's just for you. Explore your artistic side and take up painting or photography. Delve into scrapbooking or knitting. Hobbies can often branch out into careers, so finding one you love can actually be a huge benefit in the long term.
Spend Time in Nature
Stargaze with your husband. Go on nature hikes. Sit out on the porch as a storm blows in. Get out of the house and get in touch with nature; it will open your eyes to the wonders of creation. Sometimes, just going on a simple walk helps you put things in perspective.
Go to Bed Early
If you're tired, why not? Your body needs to get between 7 and 8 hours of sleep per night, but most women come up short. Give yourself the gift of rest; it will prepare you for another busy day tomorrow.
Once you are done with work, allow yourself to wind down and enjoy some "me" time before tackling another day. It will do wonders for your emotional and physical well-being!______________________________
Sarah Baker is a documentary filmmaker and writer currently living in New Bern, NC. Her first book, Lucky Stars: Janet Gaynor and Charles Farrell, will be published December 2009. Read more about her.