How to Wind Down After Work

Do you feel like you are always working?  

You know the vicious cycle: wake up, work, eat lunch while working, take a break at dinner, and then finish up work emails before bed. You become addicted to working and probably complain about how it’s taking over your life. You feel stressed, anxious, and alert at every ping and ding of your smartphone.  It’s time to rule work before it rules you.   If you don’t create a routine that clearly separates work time from home time, you’ll never switch off.  

When Your Home Becomes Your Office 

Working from home only exacerbates this problem.  The blurred lines between office hours and home time literally disappear when your home is your office.  Allowing the stress of your work day to creep into your personal life can cause long term anxiety, insomnia, fatigue, and burn out.  Instead of relying on alcohol, or binging on TV or ice cream to reduce stress, it’s time to create boundaries between work and home time. 

You Can’t Wind Down If You’re Still Working

The first thing you must do is STOP WORKING.  Don’t check work emails on the way home or while you wait to pick up your children or start your evening work out.  Don’t jump on to Slack to quickly check if you missed anything between 5:30 PM and 6:00 PM.  When work is over, whether at home or in the office, make it a habit to get a change of scenery, change out of your work clothes, and do something specific that indicates that you are done for the day.  

After you’ve shut up shop for the day, your next job is to actively move from a heightened state of alertness to the parasympathetic zone and wind down before you sleep. 

Try This: 6 Ways to Wind Down After Work

  1. Exercise – Vigorous exercise boosts your mood, helps you clear your mind, and reduces stress.  Studies have also shown that cardiovascular exercise can reduce age-related mental decline and help improve memory, thinking, language, and decision making. 
  2. Unplug – Put your phone and laptop in a place where you won’t be tempted to constantly check your messages or emails.  Tools down means just that if you have a highly connected job.  
  3. Engage in a hobby or favorite activity – Cooking is a great example of a task that can help you wind down after work.  The manual nature of chopping and prepping will take your mind off the day’s events.  You also get a chance to use your creative brain and be proud of a non-work related accomplishment.  
  4. Take a shower or a bath – Many people swear by baths with Epsom bath salts and lavender oil to help them wind down after work.  A shower alone is enough to give you some quiet time and some H2O therapy.  
  5. Limit Blue Screen Time – Having at least 60 minutes of screen free time before bed will not only help you unwind after a long day but it will also improve the quality of your sleep. Across the board, doctors agree that using your phone at night will make it harder for you to fall asleep and make your sleep less restful.  
  6. Make a list – Don’t actually write that email or do the task.  Instead, make a list of all the things you need to do tomorrow to empty your mind and give yourself a feeling of control and preparedness.  

This Week, Create a Post-Work Ritual 

Have you ever heard the saying, “work to live, don’t live to work?”  

Work-life balance is a real thing.  You need it or you will lose sight of your “why.”  So, here’s your challenge: set a quitting time this week, and actually stop working and try one or more of the tips above before settling down to do something you love or spend time with someone you love.  

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