With emails notifications constantly popping up on our smartphones, it’s becoming harder and harder to differentiate between work time and off time — harder to maintain a balance. Taking a night for yourself is essential for staying healthy — both in body and mind. We know it can be hard, so here are some unwinding tips to make it a little easier.
1. Get Your Snooze On
Long gone are the nights spent begging to stay up an extra hour or the all-nighters that defined college. Sleep is really nice and, unfortunately, can be very difficult to make time for. Climb into your jammies, turn out the lights, and try to catch some Zs at a radically early time: you’ll be recharged in the morning and ready to face another day!
If early nights seem impossible to an active mind, try a couple of power naps! Contrary to myth, Scientific American reports that if you’ve been cheating the Sandman to get more waking time, you can actually recoup some of that sleep debt over time and improve your general health.
2. Be Lazy and Do Nothing
Always rushing from work to your evening workout class to dinner with a friend who you just never see? Cancel those — or better yet, block out a night for yourself and relax. For the true workaholics, nothing is more unfathomable than sitting at home doing nothing, but that’s exactly what you need to do.
Get some comfy socks, some baggy sweatpants, and sit. Better yet? Meditate. According to the Mayo Clinic, the benefits of meditation can help you manage stress and reduce negative emotions. So think about not thinking for a bit.
3. Getting Knitty with it
If even the thought of doing absolutely nothing makes you anxious, a craft may be your ideal calming activity. Columbia University occupational therapist Sharon Gutman says that crafts that require attention and focus but aren’t stressful, like knitting, give your neural connections a work-out by engaging several lobes at once. Knitting is even believed to offer some of the same benefits of meditating, and at least you have something to show for it!
4. Treat Yourself
Going to a spa is really nice, but can also be really expensive. If you live with a significant other, trade back and shoulder massages. There’s nothing more relaxing than being massaged and letting the tension melt away, but, as this University of Oxford study shows, giving massages helps masseuses de-stress as well! We call that a win-win situation!
5. Go analog. Unplug.
When you do decide to have a night in, be sure to unplug from your tech devices as well. You don’t need to whip out an abacus or a typewriter, but turning off the tech can help combat technology-related fear and anxiety (aka FOMO — fear of missing out), according to Nautilus. Your brain will thank you too, particularly when hit the sack for the night. Scientific American reports that too much screen time before bed interrupts our natural sleeping patterns.
6. Drinking less alcohol does wonders for your health
Taking a break from hard partying can prompt tremendous health benefits. Not only does cholesterol, glucose, and liver fat decrease, work performance, concentration, and sleep levels increase. Staving off the nightly glass of red wine (but the heart benefits!) and staying away from bars (but the work happy hour!) means you can expect to see drastic improvements in your health in as little as five weeks, according to an informal study from New Scientist.
7. Stay in and watch a movie for cardiovascular health
Laughing until your sides hurt is actually a heart-healthy activity and can deliver benefits similar to those from aerobic exercise, according to a University of Maryland study. Even if a cold is keeping you from feeling your peppiest, laughter may be the best medicine: laughing and other positive feelings can also strengthen your ability to fight disease. If comedy is not your style, horror movies also have their share of benefits: a 90-minute horror movie can burn 113 calories.
8. Read A Book, Boost your Brainpower
Instead of listening to the loud beat of the latest dance song, save the earache, and take a quiet night in to catch up on some reading. According to Psychology Today, reading a book with a strong narrative arc can improve your brain’s connectivity for days afterwards. Another study by Neurology indicates that mental activities like reading can prevent memory decline in old age, so cracking a book instead of fist-pumping can keep your brain bumping for years to come.
9. Play Sorry! And You Won’t Be Sorry
Board games like Sorry! are not only for children — they also benefit adults and decrease the risk of cognitive decline, according to Health Fitness Revolution. Other health benefits include memory formation and lowering blood pressure, plus they offer the chance to spend some quality time with family and friends, which, believe it or not, promotes overall health!
10. Find Your Inner Child’s Pose
You can practice yoga within the comfort of your own home during your free time. Not only does this offer you the freedom to practice without fear of judgment, you will get to set your own schedule, pace, and poses for truly personalized “me-time.” Just make sure to pay attention to your body, and be careful when trying new poses — you don’t want a yoga injury to offset the benefits!
11. Use the time to finally make a home-cooked meal
Instead of heating up the dance floor, heat up the oven for a home-cooked meal. According to research from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, home-cooked meals are an important factor in eating healthier and being more mindful about your diet. Besides the health benefits, there’s something luxuriously indulgent about making a gourmet meal and not having to share it with anyone else.
Even with these healthy tips, it is never too early to start taking care of your health. Luckily, SingleCare is here to make healthcare simple and accessible by connecting members to doctors. Special features, like SingleCare’s pay-as-you-go option, can save you both money and time. Join today to gain access to great doctors without the hassle of claim forms or authorizations.
(Main image credit: Chris Amaral/thinkstock)