How to de-stress and unwind after a tough day

I’ve been an old soul since I was a baby. Or so my mom says.

My dad, who is the type of man who can fix pretty much anything, was running an auto repair shop when I was little. The shop was located right in our backyard. My mom always tells me these *fun* stories- which, by now are a bit played out and you know.. I listen to them because I love her, but at the same time it’s like, come on, mom, I’m pushing 30 over here!

One of her favorite things to reminisce about, is how I’d always get dressed up, pack a little lunch basket and go outside and hang out with the mechanics who worked at the shop. I was probably four or five at the time. One day, they were working on a car that broke down and from what I understood, there was no hope of fixing it. That, was the first thing I remember ever worrying about.

I came home that day and told my mom how worried I was about that car, and the fact that it cannot be fixed. My mom then told me something that she ended up repeating time and time again throughout my life: there are no problems that can’t be solved.

Sure enough, my dad was able to fix that car and get it running. I was glad. But it was also around that time, that I’ve become a worrier. I realized that things can go wrong.

Like that time when I ripped my brand new jacket that my grandpa send me from the US  while climbing a tree with my cousin (for those who don’t know, I was born and raised in Poland and moved to the US at the age of 15 – getting gifts, especially clothing from the US was a BIG deal back in the early 90s).

I used to worry about the dumbest, smallest things. Like someone honking their horn on the road; “Was it me? Did I do something wrong?“, or not saying the right thing. Or work. Or school. Every little dumb thing you can think of, I’d stress about.

Whenever I had a little breakdown and thought that things can’t get any worse, my mom would always say: “Paula, remember, there are no problems that can’t be solved“.

And it stuck with me. When I’m having a bad day, or feel like everything is falling apart, I take a second to remember that while I’m feeling awful at that moment, things eventually will get better.

TURN OFF YOUR PHONE

We have become SO dependent on technology and when you aren’t having the best day, constantly checking your phone, especially when it comes to social media, can frustrate you even further (because, let’s face it, we all sometimes play the “comparison” game and when you’re sitting in your kitchen, crying because you had a crappy day, you don’t need to see someone else having a blast in Belize, sipping on mimosas, while also flaunting their perfect figure and hugging a french bulldog).

But it’s not just that.

There’s this fascinating phenomenon that I’ve noticed; whenever I’m having an “off” day, it’s also usually the day when everyone I know needs something from me. My phone doesn’t stop going off. I know, from personal experience, that when you’re having a bad day, one of your first instincts is to take that frustration and anger out on someone else. You scream, you argue, maybe you just ignore someone, and once you cool off you start “feeling bad”. Because how dare people call me and complain about something that’s going on in their life, or ask for help or a favor, when I’m having such a shitty day?

Yup, that’s another good reason to turn off your phone.

Disconnecting once a while can do wonders. Had a bad day? Make yourself unavailable to the world. There’s nothing wrong with that.

TAKE A LONG BATH

If you have time, take a long, hot bath. Magnesium works great as a remedy for stress, it helps relax your muscles and when you’re stressed out those can be very tense. Diffuse some essential oils- right now my favorite are eucalyptus and lavender. Add a few drops of your favorite bath oil to your bath, burn your favorite candle and relax.

No, I mean like, really relax.

Don’t be afraid to spend some time in complete silence. I know it feels strange sometimes. We all love having some background noise playing somewhere in the distance.

Be still, don’t be afraid to be alone with your thoughts. Cry, if you feel like it. I do it all the time when I have those days when I feel like I have the weight of the world on my shoulders.

If you’re anything like me, chances are you’re way too busy to treat yourself to a long bath on regular basis, that’s why when you do it once in a while it feels so relaxing. You probably saw me mention the Rosa Absolute Molton Brown* collection on Instagram- it’s a line of products that are perfect for a little pick-me-up, the ultimate pamper collection. Molton Brown shower/bath gels are my favorite- the Rosa Absolute Bath and Shower Gel* is subtly scented and I love adding a bit of extra indulgence with the the Bathing Oil* from the same collection. As a huge fan of layering scents, I finish with a body lotion and a matching Eau de Toilette*.

BREAK A SWEAT

When you get home after a tough day, working out is probably the last thing you feel like doing- but trust me, it does wonders when it comes to stress. What I do immediately after getting home is take off my makeup, change into my workout clothes, put on one of my Insanity DVDs and workout for about 40 minutes. I basically force myself to exercise because I know how much better I will feel afterwards. A nice run in a fresh air is great too. Physical activity produces endorphins- chemicals in your brain that act as natural painkillers and also improve your sleep and reduce stress levels.

EXPRESS YOUR FRUSTRATION

Sometimes it doesn’t matter how hard you try to stay positive- your day just turns to shit and you find yourself feeling angry and frustrated.  If you don’t feel comfortable talking to anyone about your feelings, express them on a piece of paper, read what you wrote once, and then rip it up and throw it away. Let go of that anger and frustration and move on.

GET LOST IN A BOOK

I mean, come on, is there anything better than this? Burn your favorite candle, cuddle up with your favorite blanket and read while sipping on your favorite tea. Maybe read some of your magazines? You know… instead of just letting them collect dust. Right now a few books that I’m reading are You Are a Badass by Jen Sincero, Light is the New Black by Rebecca Campbell and Sunday’s on the Phone to Monday by Christine Reilly. I’m also re-reading Big Little Lies– LOVE the show so much that I decided to re-read it. It’s totally normal to read a few books at once, right?


CLEAN

If your space is messy, you will find it difficult to relax and unwind after a long day. If the weather permits, open up some windows, make sure that your sink is empty, clean up your rooms, bathroom, kitchen. After you’re done, it will feel amazing to just sit back and relax. Cleaning is also a good distraction for when your mind is racing, you feel stressed and don’t know what to do with all that excess energy.

TREAT YOURSELF 

I’m not talking about spending a fortune on a new pair of shoes, but treating yourself to something small. For me, it’s either a cup of really good coffee or some veggie sushi from my favorite place. Know that it’s okay to treat yourself to a little something once in a while- and there is no need to feel guilty about it. How often do you show yourself love? It’s something that’s crucial on those days when you feel stressed- learn to forgive yourself, to be kind to yourself.

TRY BAKING

Ok, so while I love to cook, I am not much of a baker. But I noticed that whenever I have a horrible day, I always feel like making banana bread. Weird, right? But you know what? It works. I don’t know if it’s the intense banana mushing or the smell of cinnamon, nutmeg and coconut oil that fills the house as the bread sits in the oven, but it does wonders for my soul. Now, whenever I’m having a bad day, first thing that comes to my mind is “do we have ripe bananas at home?

MEDITATE

If you haven’t tried mediating yet, you’re missing out. There’s an old saying: “you should meditate for 20 minutes a day, unless you’re too busy; then you should meditate for an hour“. Not only does mediating help with stress, but it also makes you feel calm and relaxed. If you’re new to this I highly recommend you download these free guided meditations from Gabby’s blog right here.

For the last couple of years I’ve also been practicing mindfulness and I’m not exaggerating when I say that it can be life-changing. If you’re just starting out, try something small and easy-to-follow like The Little Book of Mindfuleness. I bought it a few months ago and what I love about it is that you can just pick it up and follow a practice that’s 5-10 minutes long.

How do you like to unwind after a long, tough day?


  • Lisa Autumn

    Oh I just loved the little intro of this post.. so sweet and personal! And yes agree with all of the tips. The most important one for me has to be switching off my phone. But sometimes that can be harder than it sounds haha..

    xx Lisa
    lisaautumn.com

    • Thank you Lisa! ❤I LOVE turning off my phone, have to do it all the time! It is hard sometimes. I’m so used to checking my phone I sometimes pick it up even when it’s off – just a force of habit hah!

  • Kat

    Hi Paula, great post and so important to de stress and unwind ! I take my pups for a leisurely walk after dinner, review my day and anything bothering me, review the next day and then that is it for those topics! . . . I then return home and take a long hot shower followed by lavender body lotion and powder, get some fruit and tea and maybe a treat, then I journal and curl up with a book or a tv show and my pups!

    Have a wonderful Wednesday my friend!

    • Thanks so much Kat! I love spending time with my pup too- pup cuddles are the best ?. Your routine sounds sooo calming, love it!

  • Hey Paula! It’s absolutely important to unwind and that digital shutdown (turning off your phone) is really crucial. Sometimes I make the mistake of going onto Facebook/Instagram and that takes out an additional hour (of two) of my sleep routine simply because of the mindless distraction (yet so time consuming). If it’s not that, scientifically I believe that light coming from our mobile screen is also really harmful.

    These days, I try to read before bed and it’s really helpful as I tend to drift off and feel sleepy in a while.

    Thanks for sharing these!

    Love from Singapore,
    Yeeling

    http://artelounge.net | An Online Space for Travel + Inspiration

    • It’s so easy to waste time when you’re online, without even realizing how much time passes by, that is so true. I try to avoid electronics right before bedtime, definitely makes a difference and it’s so easier to fall asleep. ?

  • I love to work out. Breaking a sweat helps me get rid of my day and the thoughts I took home with me from work and feel better about myself and my body. Plus I can get my kids involved, which is always great fun.

    Linda, Libra, Loca: Beauty, Baby and Backpacking

  • I definitely use both cleaning and reading as a coping mechanism when I’m feeling super-stressed or anxious. I found that as I’ve gotten older, I tend to worry more and more.

    • I feel like it’s the opposite with me, I worry less as I get older. I love both cleaning and reading. A good book is a great escape and cleaning always makes me feel better. x

  • Love this post, good tips! I have to do one thing when I come home and that is to turn off my phone. I really need to do that! And after that I had to do a work out :)

  • Wonderful post and tips! I already signed up for Gabby’s meditation! Thanks for sharing!

  • I love taking a long bath and pampering myself to de-stress! x

    http://emmaboughtwhat.blogspot.co.uk

  • MykoYeboh

    Great ideas, Paula (:D)

  • I love the idea of writing out your frustrations then ripping it up! Cleaning the bathroom is one of the things I do to destress haha sounds funny but I enjoy sequestering myself in there and completing a task. :)

    Andrea | http://www.morethanrubies.ca

    • It actually helps! :) OMG I do the same thing :) I think that bathroom is my “safe place” haha Love a good cleaning session and sometimes I even just close myself in there when I need a good cry lol

  • Agree, agree, agree!

    Arden | Missing Wanderer

  • I’ve tried meditating before and I loved it. I really want to start making sure I fit it into every day x

    LuxeStyle

  • Are you me? Girl, I feel like we are twin souls! On my worst days, I definitely feel insane urges to work out, clean, and I regularly get lost in a good book too. Such great advice. Your mental health/self-care posts are honestly my favourite.

    Deanna | http://www.luxandvitae.com

    • Haha! When I was younger I was convinced that I had a long-lost twin sister somewhere :D (my mom denies it lol) So happy that you enjoy these posts Deanna, thank you so much for taking the time to read them! x

  • My favorite way to unwind is to listen to Enya and light some scented candles. It always unwinds me.

    http://www.yourbeautypantry.com

    • Ohhh yess I love “Only Time”. Her music is so beautiful but I sometimes get too emotional listening to older pieces haha – brings back so many memories from my childhood. :)

  • I like to listen to music and read a book. I want to check out that book now, it sounds like it really works.

    Perfect Shade of Mauve

  • This is lovely. Thank you x

    Erin x | Erin Azmir Blog

  • I stopped using my phone all the time and now I really struggle with using it at all, I just got so unused to it. My Instagram suffers most, but it is just ON MY PHONE, and my phone is on my ‘I would rather not’ list atm.

    • I think that’s awesome! People always get so offended when I don’t call or text back right away- it’s like, I don’t keep my phone next to me 24/7. People find it so hard to believe.

  • Whenever I feel like I’m about to blow into a million nasty pieces and usually my husband is the one who is the unfortunate victim, I always do a very long yoga session. I find yoga calms me down a lot…either that or my old limbs are sore from the practise and I have zero energy to be mad anymore. LOL!

  • So many of the things I don’t feel like doing when I’m in a bad mood are exactly the things I need to do. I’ve been getting back into yoga again, and my mind and body are so much better off for it. I need to be better at turning off my phone when I feel bad! I’ll have to look into that mindfulness book.

    Jenn │ Beauty by Jellybean

  • Natalie Redman

    Great post! I agree with throwing social media out of the window when you’re feeling low. It doesn’t help!

    http://www.upyourvlog.com

  • Ivydemment

    Thanks for this ! I’ll try your advice !!!