The literal meaning of the verb unwind is exactly what it sounds like — the opposite of "wind," or twist. But when someone says they need to unwind, they mean that they need to relax.

When you come inside on a cold, snowy day, you might first unwind the scarf from around your neck, loosening and untwisting it. If you then grab a cup of hot chocolate and put your feet up on the coffee table, you’ll feel yourself start to unwind, or become less tense. Unwind has been in use since the fourteenth century, but the figurative meaning of “to relax” dates only from the mid-twentieth century.

Definitions of unwind
  1. verb
    reverse the winding or twisting of
    unwind a ball of yarn”
    synonyms: unroll, wind off
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    roll, twine, wind, wrap
    arrange or or coil around
    type of:
    displace, move
    cause to move or shift into a new position or place, both in a concrete and in an abstract sense
  2. verb
    separate the tangles of
    synonyms: disentangle
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    roll out, straighten
    straighten by unrolling
    unwind or untwist
    type of:
    cancel, annul, or reverse an action or its effect
  3. verb
    become less tense, rest, or take one's ease
    synonyms: decompress, loosen up, relax, slow down, unbend
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    tense, tense up
    become tense, nervous, or uneasy
    vege out, vegetate
    engage in passive relaxation
    sit back, take it easy
    settle into a comfortable sitting position
    type of:
    change state, turn
    undergo a transformation or a change of position or action
  4. verb
    cause to feel relaxed
    synonyms: loosen up, make relaxed, relax, unlax, unstrain
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    strain, tense, tense up
    cause to be tense and uneasy or nervous or anxious
    release from mental strain, tension, or formality
    type of:
    act physically on; have an effect upon
Word Family

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