Switching off from work - easier said than done or easier done than said?


Do you get the feeling there’s a disconnect between the reality of work for most of us and the advice offered by people who make it their business to teach us how to switch off?

In our book The Healthy Office Revolution, Liz and I prove that doing things like taking short breaks, going for short walks and being mindful definitely make us more productive.

But, when you’re in a high pressure job working for an organisation that isn’t interested in allowing the strategies we, and any number of experts, recommend, what do you do?

When everyone on your team is working to a screaming deadline, you can’t go out for a stroll or commandeer a corner of a conference room as your personal relaxation space.

The reality is that the only time many of us have to switch off from work is our own time. What’s left of it.

Here are three simple things you can do outside work:

  1. Have a hard stop so work time doesn’t leak into personal time. Don’t read emails outside of work time and, gasp, maybe even switch off your phone.

  2. Create a ritual that signals the end of work. For intance, showering and changing your clothes, closing your eyes and regulating your breath by closing your eyes and simply counting your in and out breaths.

  3. If thoughts about work continue to pop into your head when you’re trying to relax, let them come and watch them go, telling yourself they have nothing to do with you outside work. Or, write them down and, as you do so, imagine that you’re throwing them out of your mind.

Although each of these suggestions might seem blindingly obvious, they work. Like every habit, bad or good, you just have to make them such a part of your life you do them without thinking.

Now, close your eyes, breathe in through your nose for a count of four and out for four. Do this 100 times and see how you feel.