How stressed out are you? If your response is “very,” “OMG, let me tell you,” or just an incredulous, slightly delirious cackle — believe me, I can more than identify. Working hard, working late, making money and trying to pay the bills while also making time for family, friends, side projects, and — last but not least, yourself — can seem almost impossible at times. The question is, how do you de-stressify? What do you do when your blood pressure’s high, your head’s aching with the pressure of unfulfilled expectations, and you need to somehow shut off the insistent voices in your ear?
I’ve been incredibly stressed out recently — my parents are in town for the rest of the month, work’s been killing me, and I feel the constant threat of deadlines over my head like a miniature storm cloud. Sometimes I feel dizzy with stress. Sick with it. I’ve had to seek out healthy methods to deal with my stress issues.
For Christmas a few years ago, my mother-in-law gave me a slender little book called Destress — 100 Natural Ways to Relax. It’s one of those chock-full-o-illustrations books, very simple, cute little drawings throughout. But the advice within it has helped me figure out an after-work routine that takes the edge off the day I just endured. Here’s some of the tips I’ve adapted to my own life.
After a long, arduous day at the office, all I want to do is collapse on the couch, preferably with a cocktail in hand. But I’ve been trying to deny myself that decadence. That’s an ideal time for me to work out, shake my B.O.O.T.A.Y to some Spank Rock and Santogold (watch out for raunchy lyrics if you click that link, BTW), and take out all the day’s aggression on the elliptical trainer. Another great form of venting that aggression is high tech and often hard to find these days… but I’ll put it out there… have any of you played the Nintendo Wii? I LOVE it. It’s so, so, SO much fun. I love that a video game system can get you up and on your feet, and if you’re sick of Wii Sports, now there’s Wii Fit, which I am dying to try. It sounds really cool.
After working all day then working up a sweat, I settle down to a simple, early dinner. Eating too late means I’ll literally fall asleep on the couch with a heavy belly of food, and that’s no good. So I try to eat dinner soon after I’ve come home from work, by 8:30 p.m. for the latest. If I am totally sapped of energy, I might splurge on something pre-cooked from the neighborhood gourmet grocery, but that really adds up for this bella on a budget. So most often I make a simple dinner salad — grill some chicken, skirt steak, fish, or shrimp on my indoor grill, place it on top of my bag salad of choice, add cherry tomatoes, diced strawberries, or almond accents or all of the above, toss with some kind of light dressing. And because my husband loves them, I serve the meal with Pillsbury whole wheat rolls, which are awesome. I have no idea how healthy (or unhealthy) they are, though.
Every night I wind up sitting at the computer, working until the wee hours. At one point, I was regularly falling asleep at the keyboard, fading out in the middle of an Afrobella post. Now I know that I need to tear myself away from the glowing screen, and let my mind slowly shut down before bedtime. So after Colbert, my favorite way to wind down before bed is with a hot, fragrant shower. My husband thinks it’s so weird — why would you take a shower so late at night, when you usually just take one in the morning before work? But the warm water cascading down on me really soothes my spirit, and I know my body wash of choice really helps as well — Johnson’s new Melt Away Stress products really are exactly what the doctor ordered. You’ve probably seen these ads splashed all over some of your favorite blogs recently (including this one). Allow me to share my experience with them so far.
The products are infused with their patented Aromasoothe fragrance, which is subtle, mild, and infinitely calming. Wafts of chamomile and hints of lavender — which is known as a stress reliever. A few drops of lavender essential oil to a bath tub can help to destress your body and mind. If you don’t have a bathtub (like me), the Johnson’s Melt Away Stress moisturizing wash is a great way to get the soothing effects of lavender without making your shower all slippery. It’s the kind of wash that I let lather on my bath sponge, then hold to my nose to inhale the scent before I start showering. Very moisturizing, and the bottle’s tall and big — 20 oz for $6. Good deal. I follow up the body wash with the body lotion — they claim that it’s clinically shown to help you sleep better and melt away daily muscle tension. It’s been working well for me — a hot, soothing shower and body rub with these two products, and I’m infinitely relaxed and ready for sleep.
My two favorites are the body wash and lotion, but there are two other items in the line — the massaging moisturizer is really best used for couple massages, it warms up wonderfully between your hands and makes for a sensual, slippery experience, but it’s a little sticky and runny if I use it on its own. The dreamy night cream is great for your hands, feet, knees, elbows, and any of those arid areas of your skin. But for my money, $10 to $12 for the body wash and lotion combo is totally worth it. After my shower, I collapse happily into bed. Recently, instead of lying there recounting my list of the 1001 things I didn’t do that day, my sleep has been dreamless and deep — exactly what I want it to be. I wake up smelling like an angel, and my skin is so smooth and soft. Click here to get $1 off any Johnson’s Melt Away Stress product.
Whew. It’s Monday morning and I’m already ready for my post-work ritual, bellas! What helps you unwind your mind after a long day?