How to improve your ability to switch off
We are creatures of habit. This is true of our thinking habits as well as our day to day lives. Do you recall a time when you have arrived home and can’t remember the journey despite being sober and in the driver's seat? Our minds have their own pattern - especially when we are tired, trying to sleep or relaxing. When your work is stressful it can be difficult to stop work thoughts and turn your attention to other aspects of life.
Building an end of work routine can be helpful. This consciously enables you to set a boundary between your work life and home life. Like with anything new, it will take practice for it to become a habit. Try this checklist at the end of your day for the next four weeks and see if it helps.
7 steps to switching off
- Think - take a moment to think about today. What was difficult? What are three things that went well?
- Write - write down anything that’s still on your mind
- Check-in with yourself - are you ok?
- Check-in with others - if you feel able to, check in on your colleagues before you leave – are they ok?
- Say thanks to a colleague for their contributions
- Wash your hands, take 5 deep breaths, stretch up to the sky, zip up your bag and put on your favourite music
- Now switch your attention to home
What if I start thinking about work?
You will - relax, it’s ok. Take this in your stride
- Try to recognise when you are thinking about work as quickly as possible, label it, “work thought”, gently return to thinking about what you are actually doing. Be present
- For persistent things you are concerned about you could try journaling, or put on some music to distract yourself.
- If it’s something that is an incident that is upsetting you, try using the 24/7 helpline and try some talk therapy.
- Be kind to yourself...just do the best you can.