Time to go home: 10 tips to help you switch off properly at the end of the day
European Business Listicle 32/2018
After a long and tiring day at work you deserve to relax a bit. Nevertheless, a lot of people find it difficult to switch off completely after they leave work for the day. They find their thoughts circling back to work issues even when they are no longer there. We have 10 tips to help you switch off after a long day at work.
1. Every day the same – develop your own after work rituals
Many of us find it difficult to make a clean transition from work to free time. We therefore recommend the introduction of rituals that mark a clear separation between the two. In this way, you let your mind know that it is time to relax. For example, you could take half an hour straight after work to go for a run or read the newspaper in peace and quiet.
2. Meetings, meetings, meetings … – make appointments with yourself
When you are at work, there is a constant round of appointments that you have to keep. Why not apply the same concept to your private life? Make appointments with yourself and stick to them. Instead of just keeping a work diary, you could start a “free-time calendar” where you schedule things like walks, sporting activities or coffee dates with friends. This helps you to “commit” to these appointments and forces you to relax.
3. Radio silence – turn off your phone
Turn your phone off completely? No, you didn’t misread that! Smartphones may offer us a million and one ways to entertain ourselves, but they also tempt us into sneaking a quick peek at our work emails. If you really want to switch off completely, then that is exactly what you should be avoiding. It can be helpful to switch off your phone (for a short time) straight after work just to get into “do not disturb” mode.
4. Combine leisure with pleasure – take up a hobby
A classic and above all effective way of switching off is to take up a hobby. It can bring an element of routine into your leisure time and give you something to look forward to. It doesn’t matter which hobby you take up as long as you really enjoy pursuing it. The enjoyment you derive from your hobby is the perfect antidote to a stressful day.
5. Food for the brain – read a good book
Old-fashioned reading in bed can work wonders when it comes to switching off and relaxing. If you find your mind working overtime before bedtime, a good book can be the answer. The advantage in comparison to a film or television series is that it gives your mind more to mull over. The risk that you find your mind wandering again is much smaller. And if your eyes start to feel heavy, you can just turn over and go to sleep.
6. Put it down on paper – write your thoughts down
Who hasn’t been there? You’re sitting and relaxing on the sofa at home at the end of the day when a problem at work or an important thought pops into your head. Sometimes it can be very difficult to push the worrying thought to one side. The problems swirl around your head and keep you from relaxing. The solution: Write down the thoughts that are bothering you. There are lots of ways you can do this, for example you can simply jot things down on a piece of paper or draw up a to-do list for the next day at work. By writing it down you get what is bothering you out of your head and free up that space for more relaxing thoughts.
7. Take some exercise – keep moving
There are good reasons why exercise is constantly praised as a “miracle cure” for stressed out workers: exercise strengthens the immune system, improves health and releases happy hormones – all things that help you switch off. Added to that, taking exercise helps you make up for the lack of movement inherent in most office jobs. Regular exercise should therefore be a fixed part of your leisure time planning.
8. Set yourself rules – be aware of your total screen time
We have already mentioned that you can turn your phone off every so often. You should also keep an eye on the amount of time you spend in front of the television. It is important to find the amount that is right for you. Of course, relaxing in front of the TV can be a good way to switch off. However too much of good thing can have the opposite effect.
9. Reap the rewards of your own work – make a point of identifying your successes
It can be very relaxing to look back at all you have achieved. Amid the stress of the working day, it is worth taking a moment to look back at the day’s successes. Even things you consider to be small victories or intermediate milestones you have reached can be counted here. In this way, you become more aware of what you do and are better at identifying progress. Don’t forget to let your work colleagues know what you have achieved. When you finish for the day, you can leave work satisfied and without a guilty conscience. Then there really is nothing stopping you from relaxing.
10. Tomorrow is another day – keep an eye on your attitude to work
You can use your time at work to initiate preventative measures that will ease the transition to after work time. As well as acknowledging what you have already achieved (Tip No. 9), you should also accept that you can’t always clear your desk completely by the end of the day. Everyone has a bad day from time to time or can simply be overwhelmed by the amount they have to do. There is no need to feel ashamed or guilty. If you are leaving unfinished work for the next day, you should draw up a plan of how to finish it in the coming days to avoid any unnecessary worry.