How to Unwind After Work: 13 Relaxing Ways to Decompress

Some days, work environments are stressful. Projects are overwhelming; coworkers or customers are difficult. For those days (and even the good ones), knowing how to unwind after work is important for our well-being and “after-work” life. 

Here are 13 simple and relaxing ways to unwind after work without alcohol. Use these tips and tricks to help you “leave work at work” and relax after a stressful day.

a young woman lies on the floor of her apartment and reads on tablet to decompress after work

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How to Unwind After Work

Work already takes up a majority of our lives and brainpower. Not only during the 8-to-5 business hours, but after the close of the business day as well. 

Since my time in the corporate machine, I’ve noticed that leaving work at work has become more difficult. If I’m not online in the evening, then I’m thinking about what I’m missing. 

Sound familiar? It can be hard to let go of the latest work happenings and enjoy our free time. 

Thankfully, there is hope for all of us! By learning how to unwind after work, we can destress and enjoy our time post-work. 

Here are 13 simple ways to relax and unwind after work without alcohol.

  1. Stretch or Do Yoga
  2. Have a Dance Party
  3. Watch a Comedy
  4. Exercise or Go for a Run
  5. Socialize with Friends
  6. Do Your Favorite Hobby
  7. Take a Bath
  8. Journal / Voice the Day’s Stressors
  9. Reading
  10. Commute Call on the Drive Home
  11. Clean or Do House Upkeep
  12. Do an Art or DIY Project
  13. Pray & Read the Bible

1. Stretch or Do Yoga

After a stressful day at work, yoga and stretching is calming. It slows down the heartbeat and helps release the tension in muscles, which are pretty tight after a hard day. 

When it comes to how to unwind after work, I love doing yoga since it focuses on calming your mind, deep breathing, and slow movements. Before bed, I often stretch and do a few sun salutations, too, to quiet my racing thoughts.

2. Dance Party

We’ve all got to let our hair down sometime. So why not doing it while playing your favorite music and dancing around your kitchen/ living room/ bedroom/ patio—wherever you may be! 

Pick your favorite song and sing at the top of your lungs. Don’t think about how you look because no one is watching and be free to dance. 

3. Watch a Comedy

Laughter is medicine for the soul. So, one great method for decompressing after work is to take a half hour and watch a funny TV episode. 

I find the older TV shows are funnier and more lighthearted. My previous therapist highly recommended I Love Lucy episodes. However, I suggest Friends as a great option to get some laughs. But I am totally biased here since it is my all-time favorite TV show.

With TV, you have to be careful that watching TV doesn’t take up all your free time. Binge-ing a show to avoid responsibility is not recommended. 

High procrastination now leads to frustration later. 


4. Exercise or Go for a Run

Going for a run or doing a workout can also help in decompressing after work. I put this way to unwind after work separate from stretching and yoga. 

Though they are both exercises, they have very different effects. While static stretching calms your heart rate, more intense workouts increase your heart rate. 

Personally, a good workout gives me something else to focus on for 45 minutes besides work. I can’t check my email or respond to direct messages. So the workout feels like me-time.

Going on a run releases all the pent up energy caused by my stress. When I run, all the pent-up tension and frustration comes out with each stride.

With good music and a solid pace, running can be a positive way to cope with work stress. 

5. Socialize with Friends

Seeing friends is a great way to decompress after work. You can share what made your day tough, and have others validate or empathize with your feelings. 

Sometimes just hearing an “I understand” can make a burden at work easier to carry. Perhaps your friends even have a solution or suggestion for your work problems.

But no more than five to ten minutes on work stuff or else it can turn into a pity party. And there are definitely better parties to attend. :]

6. Spend Time Doing Your Favorite Hobbies

Wondering how to relax after a stressful day? Picking up a hobby that you can do during the week is an awesome way to unwind after work. 

You may think you need more free time to commit time to your hobby. But even a half hour doing something you love can do wonders for destressing and improve your mood.

Here are some examples of after work hobbies: 

  • Writing
  • Blogging
  • Gardening
  • Dancing
  • Singing
  • Crocheting
  • Knitting
  • Woodworking
  • Design (Fashion, graphics, interiors)
  • Sports
    • Biking, hiking, baseball, softball, frisbee, golf, ice skating, hockey, soccer, running, basketball, swimming, etc. – See if there is an adult community team nearby.
  • Learn a language
  • Volunteer
  • Join a choir / orchestra 
  • Take instrument lessons
  • Relaxing Day Off Ideas

If you’re open to trying a new hobby, here’s 15 examples of hobbies focused on personal development, earning extra cash, and being productive during your free time.

7. Take a Bath

There are two types of people: bath people and not-bath people. If you’re a bath person, take a soak in the tub to make your stress melt away. Light a candle, grab a book or magazine, and let the bath do its magic. 

Unsure whether you’re a bath person or not? I encourage you to give it a try. It’s a really simple method for decompressing after work. 

The beautiful thing about baths is that you can’t do anything else while taking a bath. You’re forced to stop working, stop striving, stop pushing yourself, and just be. 

So you’re not a bath person? Try these other self-care ideas to help you decompress. Or, a long, hot shower may have the same effect for you.

8. Journal about the Day’s Stressors

For this to be a successful way to unwind after work, you can’t hold back. Get everything that’s stressful out into the open air. 

Even if there is not a listening ear, it can be helpful to voice your frustrations and talk through what’s stressing you out. On the commute home, crank up the radio and just talk to yourself about work. 

When you get home, take out a piece of paper and scribble down what’s frustrating you. These don’t have to be full sentences or complete thoughts, just get it on paper. 

Once our work stressors are out in the open air or on paper, it’s easier to let go of them in our mind. We may even find a solution or better approach once we’ve talked it out with ourself. 

9. Read a Book / News / Magazine

If reading seems like a disguise for more work, you may be wondering how to unwind after work with a book. Hear me out. 

People often read as a means of entertainment or escape. If you’re reading fiction, you can become immersed in another world, rooting for the main character facing the story’s antagonist.

Aside from reading paper books, graphic novels and comic books are a good alternative. It’s like watching TV with captions only. :] 

Additionally, reading is also a great way to learn. Whether by learning a new skill or language or exploring a new subject, reading opens your mind and world.

10. Host a Commute Call on the Drive Home

For three young professionals busy with our new jobs, my friends and I hardly had time to catch up. It just so happened that we were all driving home or logging off at around the same time.

One way I would often decompress after work is by having a commute call with my friends. We spend the first few minutes talking about work, then move on to other subjects. 

This helps me get out of the work mindset as I’m thinking about other aspects of life. By the time I get home, it’s easier to resist the urge to open the laptop again. 

Setting work boundaries and learning how to say no professionally also help you spend your evenings work-free.

11. Clean & Do House Upkeep

You’ve had a hard day at work, so why would you want to come home and do chores? 

First of all, cleaning and doing house upkeep focuses your attention on something other than work. After all, that’s usually the goal of wanting to unwind after work.

Second, no matter how crazy life or work is, you deserve a clean space. Coming home to disarray usually only adds to my stress. How about you?

Third, the predictable relaxes us among the unpredictable and unknown. Folding laundry and unloading the dishwasher may sound like a snooze fest.

But after a crazy day, the mundane, easy tasks are surprisingly relaxing. There is joy in the simplicity, in decompressing after work by taking care of yourself and your home.

12. Do Art or DIY Project

Having an art project or DIY project to look forward to after work can be a great motivator throughout the day. In the evenings, you can spend time completing the project and decompress at the same time.

While I was a teacher, coloring was my go-to after work de-stressor. I love picking the colors and seeing the picture come together piece by piece. There are mindfulness coloring books available that have more sophisticated drawings or positive affirmations. 

13. Read Your Bible and Pray

Reading the Bible is another way to unwind after work, as it puts your focus back on God. When we get bogged down in work or stressed out over deadlines, the Bible reminds us that God is there with us through it all. 

Through prayer, we can connect with God and receive his comfort and peace while dealing with a stressful work situation. Listening to a Christian podcast or attending a mid-week service is another way to connect with God during a hectic week.

young woman unwinding after work by journaling in a coffee shop

How do I Decompress After Work without Alcohol?

  • Acknowledge the stress: You can’t deal with something that you ignore. Recognize that the stress is there.
  • Allow yourself to take a break from the problem: Oftentimes we put our brains into overdrive trying to solve our problems. But ruminating on a problem 24/7 ends up being counterproductive. Work on something else for a while then come back to it. 
  • Do activities that release tension and reduce stress: Find the activities or hobbies that are the opposite of “stress inducing.” Anything that calms your mind or helps exert the extra energy and adrenaline your body has produced in response to the stress. 
  • Manage the stress: Constant stress management is helpful for those moments when you feel overwhelmed. Even though every day may not be super stressful, build in some stress-reducing activities into your normal schedule.
    • As a result, you won’t feel like you have to carve out special time to do a “destressing” activity. By making them part of your daily life, you can rely on them when you may be too frazzled to think.

With these ways to relax after a stressful day and tips for decompressing after work, I’ve been better able to enjoy my time off. Now that you know how to unwind after work, I hope you can destress and enjoy your evenings off, too. You’ve certainly earned it.

How do you unwind after a stressful day?

Leave me a comment below!

Don’t miss this! More posts about Working and the Young Professional Lifestyle:

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