You’ve said goodnight to your colleagues, closed your laptop and finished work for the day, so why can’t you seem to stop your brain from anxiously running over your to-do list? And why are you still anxiously checking emails late into the night?
If working from home – or homeschooling – means you feel as though you’re always switched on, you’re not alone. Pandemic restrictions have caused our work and leisure times to become blurred, and relaxing after a long day at work can be difficult when there are reminders of your job all over your home.
We asked some experts to share their top tips for switching off your work brain and better enjoying your downtime…
1. Be realistic with your time
No matter how efficient you are, there are never enough hours in a day to get everything done. “If you’re having trouble putting your laptop away, you should be able to speak to your line manager about any issues you are having whilst working from home,” says Stuart Duff, business psychologist.
“This will help you and them to manage expectations. The majority of managers will agree that you should not be working long into the evening, and even if they send emails at night, they will not necessarily expect a response.
“Setting boundaries with your manager and colleagues will help you switch off, with the knowledge they do not expect anything further from you after the end of the working day.”
2. Write an end of day to-do list
A good way to bring the day to a close is to write a list of everything you need to carry over until tomorrow, says Duff, be it unanswered emails or half-finished tasks.
Crucially, it’s a mental brain dump of everything you need to remember before switching off your work phone and laptop – once it’s on the page, you can forget about it until the following morning.
3. Keep your commute
The benefit of commuting is the opportunity to actually leave your house and get a much-needed change of scenery. Just taking a quick walk around your neighbourhood can be a helpful way to mentally signal the end of the working day.
“You could spend your end of day commute time investing 30 minutes in doing something new for yourself and your mindset too,” says Duff. “It could be walking a new route, yoga, learning a new language, trying a different recipe, reading something, sewing or baking.
“The options are endless, but the really important thing is that whatever you do gives you a breather from the everyday remote working routines you’re experiencing.”
4. Rethink your space
Our environment can shape our state of mind, and if you’re trying to relax in your workspace, it’s going to be harder to do that if you can hear your emails pinging into your inbox.
“Create a separate space in your home that is designated for work purposes only,” says psychologist Dr Courtney Raspin. You could cordon off an area of your living room in a small space. Another option is to actively set up and then take down your work area at the end of the day.
“For example, if you need to you use the dining room table due to living in a smaller space, try to clear that area when you are finished working.”
5. Just breathe
There are lots of breathing and relaxation exercises you can do to help relieve stress and relax your body and mind. Take some deep breaths to kickstart your parasympathetic nervous system to help produce a relaxing effect.
Dr Oliver Stanecezk at Clinique La Prairie says: “To unwind at the end of a long day of working from home, spending just 10 minutes doing a simple breathing exercise – like meditation, Qigong, yoga or sophrology – can greatly aid the rebalance of mind and body.”