Frequently people who attend our workshops mention not being able to switch off at night or after work. Does this happen to you too? Taking work home either physically (notes to finish) or mentally such as ruminating (repetitive intrusive almost involuntary thoughts about work) are really common.
Maybe you are one of the two thirds to three quarters of people who report finding it difficult to unwind after clocking off according to Mark Croply, a Health Psychologist doing interesting research in this area.
In these days of smart phones, when we are supposed to be ‘always on’, it can be difficult to switch off and really separate work from down time. Clocking off and disconnecting can present particular challenges but learning to fully switch off after work and leave it behind until the next working day is an essential skill to learn.
There are times of course when something very stressful has occurred and we find our mind wandering to the people or events concerned, this is normal and to be expected. However, if you’re down time is increasingly spent ruminating over the events of the workday, worrying about clients or colleagues this needs attention and it’s time to start drawing fresh boundaries.
According to Croply, ruminators need to be taught how to switch off, to be encouraged, given permission and shown how to relax. And then do it!
There are some tips and techniques which may help:
1.Tapping: Use EFT to draw a line at the end of the working day. Take a few moments to do 3 – 4 rounds of EFT holding in your mind the intention of leaving the work behind and switching your attention to the evening ahead.
Click here for a short tapping video
2. Use the clock: Mentally start to wind down a little earlier than you used to rather than fitting in tasks right up to the moment that you leave. 30 minutes before leaving work, start to mentally clock off. Don’t start new tasks which you won’t have time to finish. (See the Zeigarnik effect on the attached article) Be consciously aware of tidying away and getting ready to leave work. Mentally letting go of tasks until tomorrow.
3.Empty your brain: Take a few minutes to write down tasks and notes before getting into the car. Leave it ready for yourself to pick up the next day. Clearing out your head of ‘things to do’ by writing them down can be a real help to let go of the load.
4.Change clothes: Bringing clothes to work and consciously taking off and changing ones ‘uniform’ is another way of disconnecting. Even if you don’t wear a uniform bringing a change of clothes can help to put oneself in a frame of mind and body to be out of work. Better still if it’s a track suit and runners.
5.Get lost in your environment: At one of our workshops recently, one of our attendees who is based in Cavan spoke about her gratitude to live in such a beautiful county. She uses her drive home to get lost in the beauty of the lakes and by doing so puts herself in the way of letting nature do its healing work. There is beauty all around us if we just stop to look. Getting lost in the moment and reconnecting with the beauty of nature is a wonderful way to switch off and become present.
Perhaps there is a park where you can do a walk on your way home? Mindful walking can allow us to leave a little bit behind in each step. Using the breath to empty out the body of toxins and unnecessary thoughts is very helpful too.
6.Treats ahead: Make a plan to take time for yourself do something you really enjoy during the working week even if it’s just for an hour or two. Whether it’s time to yourself for exercise, meeting a friend, time in a café for journaling, some creative activity. The Green Cross Standards of Self Care invites us to make a promise to “let go of work in off hours and embracing rejuvenation activities that are fun, stimulating, inspiriting and generate joy in life.” This is key to attending to our own well-being. Many thanks to Adrian Furnham for his article on this topic.
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