With so many of us working from home at the moment, switching off after a day’s work has become much more of a problem.
Of course it has always been difficult for some people to switch off after a day at the office, but when your home becomes your office and your office becomes your home, the lines get very blurry.
Lots of people we have spoken to also feel that they a sense of duty to always be available for work tasks, as they aren’t being as productive (internal link to productivity post) at home as they would usually be at the office.
This is a loop that you do not deserve to be stuck in.
Always being half at work and half at home but never fully anywhere will end up creating problems and bad habits that will last far longer than lockdown.
With this in mind, we have put together some simple tips to help you fully switch off after work which will hopefully lead you to feel more relaxed in the evenings and more focused during the day.
1: Have a finish time
Whatever time you choose, stick to it. Make sure you have anything urgent accomplished and turn off your laptop. This creates an important boundary that says you are finished for the day. A set start time will also reinforce this.
2: Don’t check work emails after hours
Unless the company you work for is going through something huge, there should never be a need to check your emails after work, especially from your personal phone.
If you don’t have a separate work phone then turn off your email notifications. If you have a work phone, switch it off when you’re finished for the day.
It’s easy to think that you’ll just have a quick look and see if there’s anything you can get through tonight that will save you time in the morning but it probably won’t.
3: Get some exercise
The chances are that you’re doing a lot less physically than you were earlier this year.
Even if you aren’t mourning the loss of the gym, your daily commute has disappeared and you don’t even get to go for a walk to buy a sandwich for lunch anymore.
This energy has to go somewhere or it will turn into restlessness, anxiety or simply being unable to relax.
Government guidelines and social distancing are paramount but you can go for a run, or even a brisk walk every day if you need to clear your head.
Home workouts, if done properly, can also tire you out, make you feel happier and sleep better.
This doesn’t initially sound like a tip on switching off, but having to focus on cooking dinner distracts you from your office thoughts and you will have something wonderful to show for it. It is proven that a poor diet affects your mental health so not just cooking, but eating good food will help you to feel less anxious and more switched off in the evenings.
Eating at a table, rather than on the sofa with the telly is also a very good idea.
The more attention you put into what you are eating encourages you to care more about your diet – and you’re likely to eat less, too.
Watching the telly, using your laptop or being on your phone all expose you to blue light.
Blue light isn’t bad per se, it helps you stay awake and tells your brain that’s daytime, but it is very damaging to getting a good night of restful sleep, as it prevents our brain from producing melatonin, which is the hormone that makes us feel sleepy.
Try to stop using these things a few hours before bed, not just for the blue light, but the content itself can be counterproductive to switching off.
If you can’t limit your time on these devices, make sure they are switched on to ‘night mode’ or get some blue light blocking glasses.
Meditation has come a long way from the incense and chanting that we first think of.
It is a great tool in helping you unwind, fall asleep or even to be more focused during the day.
They both have basic, free versions as well as premium options.
Alcohol & Caffeine
Alcohol is often what people turn to in order to relax and of course it can help you to unwind but it actually leads to terrible, interrupted sleep which will leave you feeling tired and groggy the next day. Try to keep drinking to the weekends and if you think you’re relying on booze, or drinking too much, speak to loved ones about it, or check out Drinkaware
Even if you do not feel ‘pumped’ from your evening caffeine, it still limits your ability to switch off and get to sleep.
You should try to stop drinking caffeine by the mid afternoon.
They take some getting used to, but if you try to get into the habit of drinking herbal teas from the evening onwards then not only will you caffeine free by bedtime, but it will be another signal to your brain that you’re done with work for the day and it’s time to relax.. and maybe even get a good night’s sleep for once.