10 ways to kick off leisure mode

Finding it difficult to unwind? These tips can help you switch off your work brain.

Burnouts are very real and, in this fast-paced world many of us find it difficult to disengage from ‘work mode’, even when it’s the evening and we’re supposed to be relaxing. Or even when we’rekicking off the holiday. With constant connectivity and never-ending responsibilities even at entry level, gone are the golden days where you could shut the door on your office and leave your work behind.

In a study conducted by the American Psychological Association, a staggering 79% of adult US employees reported feeling stressed due to work. A worrying 36% confessed to mental exhaustion, 32% felt emotionally drained, while 44% were grappling with physical fatigue. Although I couldn’t find any similar statistics for Malta, I don’t doubt that the figures wouldn’t be too different.

How do we beat this? I’m no psychologist, but I’ve read enough listicles on Buzzfeed to be able to figure out what works for me. What works for me doesn’t work for everyone, but these tips may help you shift gears to a more relaxed mode.

  1. Bid adieu to your workday: Many life coaches advice us to metaphorically ‘shake hands’ with your workday. Treat the act of shutting down your work devices as a symbolic farewell to your professional responsibilities. Commit to keeping these devices powered off until the dawn of a new workday.
  2. Choose your feel good song: It’s no big secret that music can be an important tool to shift your mindset. Find a track that has the power to refresh your mind and signal the end of the workday. Establish a routine where the song acts as a psychological cue to stop working. And sing and dance along, like no-one’s watching (no-one is).
  3. File away your worries: Picture a filing cabinet within your mind. Deposit all your pending tasks and professional worries in it. This technique is very reminiscent of Sherlock Holmes’ Mind Palace technique, but achieves the opposit effect, helping you forget. Experts recommend visualising closing the cabinet and reopening it when you return to work.
  4. Get out of your work clothes: Once home, change out of your work clothes, regardless of their formality, into something cosy and relaxing. This can signal to your brain that it’s time to unwind. Also applies if you’re working from home, which is why working in your PJs is never a good idea.
  5. Don’t talk about work: Stop the work talk once your day is done. Resist the urge to gripe. Maintain your focus on non-work-related topics and conversations.
  6. Schedule something fun: If you have something to look forward to after work, you’re more liketly to ease the transition into relaxation mode. It could be anything, from a hobby to a movie night.
  7. Simulate a commute: Many remote workers prescribe the idea of a ‘fake commute’ for remote workers. A brief stroll around the block can give you a sense of separation from your workspace. Alternatively, devote a few minutes to a podcast or an audiobook in a different room.
  8. Connect with a friend: A quick chat with a friend at the close of your workday can work wonders, especially if you live alone. A chill convo can provide a refreshing contrast from your professional interactions and help you ease into the remainder of the day.
  9. Practice deep breathing: Find a breathing podcast that will show you how to incorporate a few relaxed belly breaths into your wind-down routine. There are many free YouTube videos around, too. This simple act can help you shed the day’s stress and transition into a relaxed state.
  10. Cultivate a soothing environment: Ensure that your home or post-work environment is one of relaxation. This could be anything from a snug living room to a chair on the balcony or a dedicated quiet space. Keeping work-related clutter at bay can assist in leaving the day’s work behind.

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