Thanks to the advancement of technology, we have the ability to be available 24/7. This means we can read and respond to work emails long after we leave the office. This shift in behaviour and increased connectivity can make it difficult for us to switch off after a day at work.
It’s become all too easy to think about tasks and to-do lists at all hours of the day, leaving us little time to switch off and relax. Professor Mark Cropley, leading psychologist at the University of Surrey believes this inability to switch off could have devastating consequences.
Professor Cropley has outlined the following techniques, to help you find your brain’s off switch quicker.
Switching off after work
In 2013 a study of 300 white-collar workers found that those who scheduled leisure activities they enjoyed were more able to detach from work. Planning your leisure time helps because it gives your mind something else to focus on – if you come home from work, sit and do nothing, your mind will quickly take the short leap back to work.
You should also try to begin your wind-down while you’re still at work. This means for the last half an hour of your working day, take time to clear your desk and make to-do lists for the following day.
Switching off on your commute
Those who drive to and from work were found to be the most stressed in a 2014 study by the University of East Anglia. Walking or cycling is best as this is likely to take you away from what you do in work (sit at a desk and look at a computer screen). Public transport offers you the chance to socialise and read, which are great steps to begin switching off.
On public transport you could also try a 10-minute body scan. Become aware of your breathing and focus on each body part, starting from your head and going down to your toes, noticing how you feel. This quick mindfulness technique helps to slow your breathing and relax your muscles.
Switching off after an argument
After an argument it is normal for our minds to race, thinking about all the things that were (or weren’t) said. To return to neutral and help your mind switch off, you need to process your emotions. One great way to do this is to write down your thoughts and feelings about the argument. This helps you reprocess the memories. Once you’ve written these down, don’t re-read them over and over – simply tear it up and throw it away, this will help you psychologically move on.