8 Healthy Ways to Unwind at Night


After a long, busy day, you can’t wait to get home and relax.  When you finally walk through the door, you’re ready to kick off your shoes, get comfortable, and leave the tensions of the day behind.

Unfortunately, many common choices for de-stressing are not in the best interest of your health and wellness and don’t contribute to managing stress in the long run. Watching mindless tv while eating snacks straight from the bag or having a drink or two may feel relaxing at the moment, but provide no lasting benefits and may do more harm than good.  If you want to find ways to unwind that prioritize your well-being, here are 8 ideas to try:

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1. Play a game

Dust off your favorite board game or a deck of cards and get some friends or family members to join you for this fun way to reduce stress.  Playing a game gives you the opportunity to connect with others, have fun, and combat stress in a healthy way.

2. Learn something new

Learning opportunities are everywhere, and they’re often inexpensive or even free. Try Duolingo to learn a language, Coursera for a variety of college courses, sites like Skillshare or Craftsy for more creative pursuits, or sign up for a class in your community.  Learning new things is exercise for your brain and can contribute to increased happiness and well-being.

3. Write

Writing is a powerful way to express thoughts and feelings and to work through issues that are causing stress.  Try writing for 20 minutes with no rules – don’t worry about punctuation, spelling, grammar, or having a specific topic.  Just see what flows from pen to paper.  Feel free to destroy it afterward, or keep an ongoing journal so that you can look back at past entries to see how your outlook is changing.  If you’re interested in learning more about journaling, check out my article here.

4. Chat with a friend or family member

A sense of connection with others is a key component to happiness.  If you’re not much for small talk, don’t feel like you have to do all of the talking – listening to someone and showing a genuine interest in their thoughts and feelings can boost positive emotions for both of you!

5. Read a self-help book

It’s great to get lost in a work of fiction, but taking the time to read a self-help book gives you the double benefit of unwinding while learning something that could help you make a positive change in your life.  Check out my list of recommended books for emotional well-being or food and nutrition for some ideas.  Find a cozy spot, brew a cup of tea, and settle in!

6. Do your chores

Instead of rushing through chores like doing the dishes or folding laundry, take your time and focus mindfully on your task.  Doing this combats stress by 1) bringing your attention to the present so that you’re not dwelling on past frustrations or worries about the future, and 2) enabling you to check something off your to-do list.  Win-win!

7. Meditate

Research shows that adding meditation to your daily routine can improve your well-being in numerous ways.  If you’re not sure how to get started, you can read my article on free meditation apps here,  or check out this article for some fun ideas.  There are many ways to meditate, so find one that works for you!

8.  Exercise

Exercise is one of the best stress relievers out there, and the benefits are endless.  Go for a run, try yoga, or combine activity with one of the ideas above by finding an active game to play or trying a walking meditation.  Pick something you enjoy so that you’ll stick with it.

The next time you want to plant yourself on the couch after a tough day, try one of these techniques instead.  Better yet, don’t wait!  Integrate one or more into your nightly routine now and enjoy lasting benefits for your health.

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