We propose and analyze a new candidate Lyapunov function for relaxation towards general nonequilibrium steady states. The proposed functional is obtained from the large time asymptotics of time-symmetric fluctuations. For driven Markov jump or diffusion processes it measures an excess in dynamical activity rates. We present numerical evidence and we report on a rigorous argument for its monotonic time dependence close to the steady nonequilibrium or in general after a long enough time. This is in contrast with the behavior of approximate Lyapunov functions based on entropy production that when driven far from equilibrium often keep exhibiting temporal oscillations even close to stationarity.