How to de-stress after work

Carrying anxiety home from the office raises the risk of numerous health problems, including high blood pressure, a weakened immune system, headaches, depression and insomnia. Here are tips from psychologists:

Listen to music in your car. Favorite tunes will help you relax as you transition from office to home.

Don't just flop on the couch. Exercise, spend time outside and interact with family and friends to boost production of feel-good hormones. Or if you can, relax by reading, taking a hot shower or engaging in a favorite hobby.

Think positively. When you reflect on your day, focus on at least one good thing that happened.

Don't bring work home. Sometimes it's unavoidable, but the more your home is a separate sanctuary, the easier time you'll have relaxing there.

Communicate. If you've had an especially tough day, share that with your spouse and children.

Set boundaries. For example, you might tell your boss that you turn your cell phone and computer off after a certain time each night (if you can).

Don't rely on substances. Too much alcohol actually increases anxiety levels — and puts you at risk for dependence — while the nicotine in cigarettes is a powerful stimulant.

Eat if you're hungry. Low blood sugar causes anxiety and irritability. But stick to nutritious foods, because bingeing on unhealthy treats will only make you lethargic.

Realize your limits. If there's nothing you can do about a work problem at home, tell yourself that fretting is a waste of time.

Take time off. Use your vacation days, take mini-breaks during the day, delegate responsibility and learn to say no if you're swamped. None of that is easy, but otherwise your work — and health — will suffer.

– Alison Johnson, Special to Tribune Newspapers

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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