5 tips for switching off from work to help you unwind
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5 tips for switching off from work to help you unwind

7th October 2020
By Tom Ladle

There are many benefits to working from home. You get to skip the commute, roll out of bed a bit later, more flexible hours, spend more time with the family, the list goes on. However, one drawback that many of us struggle with, which can be intensified by working from home is switching off from work. Research commissioned by Myers-Briggs Company found that almost a third of workers find it difficult to ‘switch off’ and those who can’t are more likely to experience feelings of stress and mental exhaustion[1] (the dreaded burn out).

With this in mind, we wanted to offer 5 simple tips to hopefully help you switch off from work and unwiiiiind. In turn, creating a healthy work life balance and mental wellbeing.

Keep workspace and relax space separate

An aspect of working from home that can make switching off challenging is the fact that your workspace is now at home. In an office environment you have a dedicated workspace, which is separate from where you choose to chill out. It’s important that you create a clear physical barrier between your workspace and relax space. If you unwind by watching films or reading in bed, try not to work from bed, no matter how tempting it may be.

Try to replicate your office environment at home, work at a proper desk (if you have one) and choose a location void of temptations that could drain productivity. Having a separate space will make it easier to enter work mode, once finished get away from your laptop and do whatever you need to do to unwind!

Evening time? Mute notifications

Smartphones, they’re brilliant but at the same time can be a pain in the backside. With smartphones, we can now access our work emails and instant messaging apps wherever, whenever. Notifications keep us alert and can prevent us from truly relaxing. So, here’s an idea. When you’ve clocked off from work, mute your notifications. This will prevent you from responding to that work email at stupid o’clock, when it can easily just be sent in the morning. Remember, you deserve leisure time, that’s why you have scheduled work hours. Don’t let after work notifications get in the way of you switching off.

Get the blood flowing and sweat going

“Physical activity has a huge potential to enhance our wellbeing. Even a short burst of 10 minutes’ brisk walking increases our mental alertness, energy and positive mood”[2]. That’s right, exercise is a fantastic way to take a break from your laptop screen, enhance mood and boost productivity. It doesn’t have to be anything intense, just something to get the blood flowing. I’m sure you’ve all heard at least one person say, ‘I went for a run, it really helped clear my head’. Well it doesn’t have to be a run, a brisk walk round the block or some intense pacing will suffice (as a last resort).

Point is, get moving! You’ll feel all the better for it and more importantly, exercise acts as a welcome distraction from work and a simple way to improve mental wellbeing.

Stick to a bedtime routine (Zzzz!)

Hitting you with a straight up soppy quote about sleep. “Your future depends on your dreams, so go to sleep” – Mesut Barazany. We’re all aware of how important a good night’s sleep can be. We know it can be difficult to stick to a strict sleeping routine but doing so will add a further element of routine to your life and after all, we’re all creatures of habit. Having a sleep routine also equals better sleep, you’ll help sync your body clock with your brain clock (is that a real thing)?

But how does it help me switch off? Well, if you’ve committed to be in bed by say 22:00, then you’ll be less likely to give in to work related cravings and focus on what you could be doing to ensure you have a healthy night’s sleep.

Chat with chums after work

Last but certainly not least, make some time to socialise outside of work. There are only so many work-related meetings one can have before they need to talk about something other than work. That’s where your chums enter the picture. This could be a quick phone call, a video call, a drink after work, a delicious dinner, whatever it may be, ensure that you are socialising to prevent work from consuming your life. Obviously, when you’re having fun doing non work-related things, your less likely to think about work and approach the next day with a fresher perspective and greater productivity.

Also use before or after work to catch-up with colleagues about non-related work stuff (ahhh, work bantz and all that). This could be through weekly catch-ups over a video call for example. Understanding your colleagues on a more personal level, rather than just professionally will build comradery, improving relations and efficiency when working with one another.

Be kind to yourself

How’d we do? We certainly hope that these 5 tips will help you switch off from work and unwind. Your mental wellbeing is so important and creating a healthy work life balance is a big step towards improving your happiness. We know it’s not always easy but please try and be kind to yourself and understand that there is more to life than work!

[1] https://www.personneltoday.com/hr/always-on-culture-unable-to-mentally-switch-off-from-work/

[2] https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/publications/how-to-using-exercise