Ways to Leave Stress Behind

You need to learn to disengage from life’s to-do list and reclaim the carefree attitude you had as a kid. Think of your new hobbies as your Zen commandments. Vacations used to signal a time for a well-deserved reprieve from life’s rigors. Par for the time: lazy afternoons at the beach, abbreviated time for responsibilities, and long breaks away from the daily grind. This year, though, you might be working extra hours and staying closer to home to save some cash. But there are still plenty of ways to relax and rejuvenate.

The key is to learn how to disengage from daily stress. When you’re taking fewer days off, it’s especially important to find ways to unwind during the downtime you have. Squashing stress isn’t just good for your sanity, it’s also good for your physical health. Stress has been linked to every major illness, including heart disease, cancer, and depression. Going nonstop day in and day out takes a toll on the entire body. Learning to apply a vacation mentality to your daily life can put you back on your game. Know what will help you reach a state of blissful detachment, no matter where you are or how many days off you can swing.

Experts say that people have become obsessed with always being on that they’ve lost the ability to turn themselves off. And that can pile up on stress. Just because you own a PDA doesn’t mean that it has to be on all the time. Each night, block at least 30 minutes for email. When the time’s up, turn off the device and put it out of sight. Just don’t schedule your catch-up session right before bed. Hitting the sack with work on your brain makes it tough to transition into sleep mode, so put the kibosh on all business-related correspondence at least an hour before turning in.

In the same way, a pre-bedtime ritual puts you in the mood for sleep, a pre-downtime routine helps you get in the mood for relaxation. As soon as you arrive home, shed whatever reminds you of work: stash your bag out of sight and kick off your heels. Changing your outfit can change your mindset instantly. Next, do something that offers a change of pace. If you’re a desk drone, head outside for a run or swim. If you’ve been on your feet all day, ease into a warm bath. Soon, you’ll feel yourself mentally drifting away from what stresses you out.

Just hanging at home has its perks. You still get the mental distance you need from the office, and without the crowds, airports, and frantic souvenir shopping, you can truly relax. Just know that you have to treat your time out like a real vacation. Keep all those tedious do-it-yourself projects on hold for however long you’ve decided to unwind. Go to bed later and get up later. If you usually low through the morning paper, lounge around and read a book in your patio. Even though the scenery is the same, you’re free to switch up your daily groove however you want to.

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Updated: September 16, 2013 — 7:09 pm

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