Do you have a hard time unwinding after work? Have you ever noticed that work-related stress happens outside of work? It occurs when you commute, are with friends and family, or are alone with your thoughts in the shower. The explanation is simple: when you are at work, you are too busy to be stressed out.
The intrusive work-related thoughts creep in when you are supposed to relax and disengage from work. This problem can be incredibly detrimental to your well-being. So this begs the question: How do you effectively unwind after work?
Generally, the best way to unwind after work is to develop a routine that allows you to disengage from work. You can form a series of habits that will enable you to reduce work-related stress and mitigate the harmful effects of intrusive thoughts.
In this post, I will share some relaxing activities and a step-by-step strategy you can adopt today to unwind effectively after work and get the rest you deserve.
How to Relax After Work in 4-Steps
So, how do you relax after work? Well, here’s a simple but highly effective routine that you can begin to practice to relax after work. It will help you unwind after a busy day when you are overwhelmed with thoughts and feelings about work.
1. Establish your “i am done for the day” time
Sometimes, work follows us in the after-hours. But we are guilty of being our own enablers by constantly checking our phones and emails, especially when dealing with bosses and managers who demand work to be done even when the workday is over.
Doing that for an hour or two after work is acceptable if necessary. But at a certain point, it becomes counterproductive. It takes a toll on you.
So pick a time that works best for you and make it your “I am done for the day.” For example, tell yourself you are done when the clock strikes 8 p.m. You are not allowed to engage in work-related activities—no email checking, texting your colleagues, research, or fact-checking.
2. Turn off the notifications from work
It is harder to unwind after work if the notifications keep coming in. So turn them off and don’t give in to the temptation to look. This is especially useful if you are dealing with annoying coworkers who don’t respect the boundaries of working hours.
3. Engage in activities that you enjoy
Do what you love to do. Immerse yourself in your hobbies and your interests. Or spend quality time with family and friends. Keep your mind occupied with things that you love and that excite you.
4. Transform the intrusive work-related thoughts into questions
Unfortunately, intrusive work-related thoughts can appear even if you follow the above steps. But here is a clever little habit that you can adopt to combat them.
For example, you might be worried that your company is not doing well recently and there will be layoffs soon. When you dwell on the matter, think of ways to turn your thoughts into problems that must be solved through creative solutions.
Keep a small notebook (yes, a notebook, don’t use your phone) where you write down your intrusive thoughts and rephrase them into questions that require an actionable response. Here are some examples.
- I have so much work to do” becomes “How can I structure my time and workflow more efficiently?
- “I don’t feel connected to the people I work with” becomes “How can I better connect with my coworkers?”
- “I am not confident in myself and the work that I do because I am now” becomes “What critical skills do I lack, and how can I acquire them?”
- “I don’t know how to share my ideas with my colleagues” becomes “How can I improve my communication and people skills?”
Once you are done writing down your thoughts, close the notebook and return to your relaxing activities. When you are back in work mode, you can open the notebook and think more about the improvements that you can make. Or you may find inspiration comes when you least expect it, like while relaxing.
How to Unwind if You Work From Home
The best way to destress after working from home is to change your environment quickly. Go to another room and engage in another activity that you enjoy, or you can go outside for a walk or run errands.
The best part about working from home is that you have immediate access to… pretty much everything you own. You can quickly engage in your favorite activities, or you can…
- Stretch and exercise
- Prepare yourself a healthy meal
- Take care of some domestic chores
Mundane activities such as domestic cleaning, decluttering, and hand-washing the dishes can be therapeutic and help you decompress after working from home.
Frequently Asked Questions About Unwinding After Work
How long does it take to decompress after work?
Usually, it takes a person at least an hour to switch work mode off. If your partner or another family member seems irritable when they come home from work, they have difficulty decompressing. Try to talk to them about their feelings and needs when relaxed. Ask them what they need after work so they can unwind.
Intrusive work-related thoughts can remain with you for several hours after work. That is why it is vital to develop a routine that allows you to quickly disengage from work and focus on other aspects of your life. Try our 4-step process outlined above.
How much time should I dedicate to unwinding after work each day?
It’s important to remember that everyone’s needs are different when it comes to unwinding after work. However, setting aside at least 30 minutes to an hour daily for relaxation and self-care can be beneficial for most people. The key is to focus on the quality of the activities you choose to engage in during this time. Find what genuinely helps you feel refreshed and at ease, and make that a regular part of your post-work routine.
Are there any specific activities that are proven to help reduce stress after work?
Yes, there are several activities that have been shown to effectively reduce stress and promote relaxation. Exercises, such as walking, jogging, swimming, or yoga, can help release endorphins and alleviate stress. Meditation and mindfulness practices can increase self-awareness, reduce anxiety, and improve overall well-being. Engaging in creative or leisurely activities like painting, gardening, or playing an instrument can provide a healthy mental break. Reading can also help you escape from work-related stress while spending time with friends and loved ones offer emotional support and a sense of belonging. Feel free to experiment with different activities to find what works best for you.
How can I create a calming environment at home to help me unwind after work?
A calming environment at home can significantly enhance your ability to unwind after work. Start by decluttering your space, as a tidy and organized home can help reduce stress and promote a sense of calm. Opt for soothing colors like blues, greens, or neutral shades for your walls and decor. Incorporating natural elements, such as plants, flowers, or water features, can create a more peaceful ambiance. Use soft, warm lighting to establish a cozy atmosphere, and consider adding candles or essential oil diffusers for extra relaxation. Finally, designate a specific area in your home for unwinding, such as a reading nook or meditation corner.
How can I balance my responsibilities at home with my need to unwind and de-stress after work?
To achieve this balance, consider setting boundaries for your work and personal life, such as limiting work-related tasks or discussions outside of your designated working hours. Plan your time effectively by creating a schedule that includes both your household chores and relaxation activities. You may also want to consider delegating tasks or sharing responsibilities with other family members.
How can I prevent work-related stress from affecting my personal life and relationships?
Establish clear boundaries between your work and personal life by limiting work-related tasks and conversations outside of your designated working hours. Make a conscious effort to “switch off” from work mode when you’re at home, and focus on enjoying quality time with friends and family. Engage in activities that help you unwind and alleviate stress, such as exercise, hobbies, or mindfulness practices. Communicate openly with your loved ones about your work-related stress and seek their support and understanding.