Tools for switching off after work
Switching off after a busy day at work is a learned skill, not a natural talent. If you’re finding it increasingly difficult to leave the office behind, here is a list of activities and strategies that might be helpful for switching off after work.
Make a rule for when your work day ends
If the boundaries aren’t clear for when you begin and finish work it might be worth creating a conscious end point. For some people it is when they walk out of the office, for others it is when they get out of their car at home, but drawing a conscious line can help you to come back to the moment and to clear your mind after a long day. This is also particularly relevant if you work from home. Some simple strategies for doing this might include leaving the house to walk around the block when you finish work for the day, to change your outfit when you want to signal work is over or even to close the door to your study when you’re done for the day. While these sound like small activities, they can helpful primers for your brain that it is time to change gear and relax.
Make space for silence and a few deep breaths
Are you almost home and your mind is still racing? Stop and find a space to sit down. Close your eyes, put a timer on or one of your favourite meditation apps and spend a little bit of time just focusing on your breath. Your mind is likely to race, this is ok. As it does just bring it back to your breathing or even just focus on counting your breaths. Even if this doesn’t entirely work, this activity to clear the mind should help to at least slow it down and signal to your brain that it is time to switch-off from work.
Exercise can be a great way to clear out anxious thoughts and to focus the mind. If you’ve had a really hard day you might think of putting aside 30 minutes to exercise before moving on to the next part of your day. This break should help to actively slow down your mind and will signal that it is time to move into another gear before you arrive home to relax.
Be conscious of the impact of your switch off choices
When you go home, what do you do to relax? A final suggestion is to consider wisely the long-term impact of what you choose to pick as your switch off activity. This is often significant because if you choose to do this activity the compounding time you spend doing that every year will be big! For example if you spend even 30 minutes going for a walk every day after work you will spend around 183 hours doing this every year (not an insignificant number). WIth this amount of time you could learn a new instrument, a language or reach that fitness goal you’ve been reaching for. So perhaps it’s time to get creative and design a new switch-off strategy.