Like most people, you already know what it means to feel drained after a long workday. But slouching on your couch in front of the TV hardly improves your physical and mental states.
If you feel exhausted most evenings, you might feel like you’re using all your productive hours to pursue your career and have little time for your personal life. Before long, this type of thinking can lead to frustration and eventually affect the quality of your work.
What should you do to stay motivated at the close of the day?
If you struggle with physical or mental exhaustion at the end of a long workday, here are 10 things to do after work to lift your spirit and give you a sense of fulfillment for the rest of the day.
1. Read a Good Book
Instead of popping on the TV immediately after coming home from work or staring at your phone for the rest of the evening, here’s something you might want to try for a change. Take a shower, eat something healthy, and pick up a great book – preferably not a digital one.
Do this for a few weeks, and you’ll likely notice the improvement in various aspects of your life.
You’ll likely feel less tired after work, gain more knowledge, and generally feel better about your life.
People with busy schedules often wonder how to create time for personal development. One good way to do so is by reading good books.
Great books don’t just help you stay motivated after work; they also help you become a better worker and person.
But you probably aren’t going to spend all your free time reading inspirational books, and that’s perfectly fine. Grab a good fiction or something comical to put you in a good mood for the rest of the evening.
2. Spend Some Time Writing
You don’t have to be a great writer to put your thoughts on paper. Writing is one of the best things to do after work to help you feel refreshed, even if you don’t compose something brilliant.
That means you don’t necessarily have to wait until you get into a flow state before you start writing (unless you are into journalistic, academic, or creative writing).
The good thing about putting down your thoughts is that the more you do it, the better you get at writing!
Not sure what to write? Here are a few suggestions:
- What ideas crossed your mind during the day at work? Put them down on paper or your computer.
- Are there any thoughts you want to put out there, perhaps in your journal or on your personal blog? Just write them down as they occur to you. You’ll edit them later.
- Write without a specific topic in mind. This is known as a brain dump – freely writing down everything on your mind. A brain dump might be all you need to relieve work-related stress and overcome performance anxiety. It is also a great way to clear your mind and help you prioritize tasks.
3. Listen to a Podcast
Feeling down and out after a long day at work? Leverage technology to keep your spirits up!
But I’m not talking about mindlessly scrolling through your newsfeed on social media. That habit is hardly beneficial.
Instead, grab your phone or tablet, find a podcast, and click play.
Here’s the thing, though.
Not all podcasts are created equal. If you want to stay motivated after the day’s work, I recommend listening to a couple of these positive thinking podcasts. You can even start your day with these podcasts to help you be at your best throughout the day.
4. Do Exercise
Exercise is one of the essential morning habits of high performers. Yet, you might not exactly be a morning person, or working out in the morning simply doesn’t fit into your schedule.
Whatever the case, exercising in the evening is one of the best things to do after work to help you feel alive.
But how do you work out when you’re already exhausted from a long workday?
Focus on low or moderate-intensity exercises, such as light jogging, cycling at a casual pace, and slowly lifting weights. You can even join yoga or dancing class, which allows you to socialize with like-minded individuals after work hours.
And if you’re feeling particularly energetic, you can exercise on a treadmill or do something vigorous.
No matter your exercise habits, remember that moving your body is a lot better than spending the entire evening slouching on a couch with eyes glued to the TV.
5. Go for a Walk
No matter what is said in praise of exercise, certain health issues might prevent some people from regular workouts.
Besides, vigorous exercise might not appeal much to you.
Not to worry, though. You can go for a walk in the woods or around the neighborhood in the cool of the evening.
While it might not seem like much, smelling the fresh air can clear your head, lift your spirit, and put you in a mood for deep appreciation, especially if you walk in nature.
Plus, going for a walk after the day’s work is a good way to bond with your kids!
6. Spend Quality Time With Your Pet
Got a pet? Creating time to bond with your animal companion is a great use of your after-work hours.
Your pet is probably all by itself when you’re at work, especially if you live alone. Instead of spending the evening browsing social media and risk feeling not good enough because of some unrealistic beauty standards or extravagant lifestyles, go play with your pet.
Remember, pets offer significant benefits to their owners, including increased exercise opportunities, reduced loneliness, and better psychological health.
In other words, spending time with your cute animal friend after work is a win-win situation.
Okay, this is a topic that’s been grossly misunderstood by many in the western world, and it’s no surprise considering its religious underpinning.
For many people, meditation conjures the image of a monk sitting still with folded legs, back straight, and having no thoughts for several hours!
Whether or not that’s a correct idea about meditation is debatable, but sitting still and doing nothing doesn’t sound like something most people will like to do after work, especially if you’ve already spent most of your day sitting at your desk. But that’s not what I mean when I suggest practicing meditation after work hours.
Here’s a better way to put it: relax!
Research shows that you can ease off work-related and daily stress with meditation.
Think of meditation after work as a way to reconnect with your core self by relaxing and letting go of stressful thoughts and feelings, as well as aches and pains in your body.
Wear comfortable clothing, find a quiet spot to spend about 10 to 15 minutes, and breathe. This earlier post covers meditation in greater detail, so check it out if you’re new to the practice.
8. Spend Time With Family and Friends
Humans are social beings, which is why spending time with the people you trust is one of the best things to do after work to feel alive.
Call a friend or chat up someone in your family and have a warm conversation. If you’re up for it and it is convenient, meet up with someone you’ve not seen in a while and share dinner instead of heading home right after work.
The benefit of being there for others goes both ways. On the one hand, it increases your sense of belonging and improves self-esteem. On the other hand, others can count on your support.
9. Prepare Your Meals
If you have culinary skills, spend time in the kitchen and cook your meals after work. It helps you appreciate your food and eat healthier, especially if you grow a garden. That’s because you know most of the ingredients that go into making your meal.
Cooking presents the perfect opportunity to delight your taste buds with a dish you made yourself and nourish your body with something prepared by you.
If you have a family, preparing meals together is a great way to bond. Also, it is a chance to teach your kids some of grandma’s secret family recipes!
10. Take Up Rewarding Hobbies
Some days are particularly tiring, especially after an entire day of monotonous work. During such days, you can stay motivated with a hobby, interest, or personal project close to your heart.
Spend the evening weeding and caring for the veggies in your backyard garden. Knit for 30 minutes or an hour if that’s your thing. Help your kid build a treehouse or complete some other projects.
Your time after work offers a good opportunity to work on whatever hobbies, interests, or projects you prefer. If you choose something you really enjoy doing, you’ll always look forward to your free time so that you can spend time doing it.
A Quick Word for Work-At-Home Folks
“Don’t bring work home.”
You’ve probably heard that one countless times, which is good advice, by the way. But you’re on a different playing field if you work from home because you don’t have to bring your work home – it is already!
The good news is that working from home gives you lots of benefits, including flexible work hours. That means you don’t stick to the traditional “work hours” and “after work hours.”
While this is generally good, it can also be a disadvantage.
There’s a high chance you might want to push yourself to do “tomorrow’s work today,” leading to work-related issues and burnout.
Don’t take this the wrong way, though. I’m all for giving your best to smash your career goals, but not at the risk of a disproportionate work-life balance.
You should have specific times for work and when to close each day, even if you work from home. This is an essential time management skill you must develop to keep your life in balance.
Here are a few suggestions to help you with this:
- Get ready for work by getting dressed as if you’re going to the office because you are! Working from home in your pajamas might sound appealing, but it can easily trick your mind into taking things for granted. Go to your designated workspace or home office and work until it is time for a break or closing.
- Clearly define your work hours and stick to them, even if you have little or no supervision. Whatever tasks are not completed within your elected work hours should not be carried into your after-work hours, as that would mean bringing work home.
- Let others in your home know your work hours and after-work hours, and consider letting a trusted family or friend hold you accountable for sticking to these times.
- While it is great to give your all to achieve your career and financial goals, you must respect your after-work hours because that is your personal time. Make sure there is a clear boundary between your career and personal life, even though you work from home.
With so many things to do after work, there’s little reason to engage in mindless scrolling and excessive screen time at the end of the day. Although you’re not actively working during your free time, you’re not just trying to kill time but to unwind and recharge for the next day’s activities.
Remember to take care of your body – it is the only vessel through which you can pursue whatever goals you have. Consistently pushing yourself beyond your physical limits can lead to negative effects. You must prioritize self-care to improve your physical, mental, and general well-being.
Want to increase your self-care practice? Take the ultimate self-care quiz.