A friend of mine suggested I write a blog post about unwinding after work. As you’ll know if you’re a keen reader of my blog, I commute to London from Oxfordshire every day (between 3.5 and 4 hours travelling in total). As a result, I’ve learned quite quickly about the best ways to spend my time and make the most of it when it’s as limited as it is. This has helped me to practise the art of unwinding after work (which, essentially, means forgetting about it until your alarm goes off the next morning). So without further ado, here’s my best advice.
1. Find a hobby 🏃🏻♀️
Having something to focus on as soon as you leave the office is key to distracting yourself. For me, blogging is the easiest way to wind down, because I get totally lost in the words that I’m writing and very quickly zone out from any work stresses.
2. Sign out of emails ✉️
It can be really difficult sometimes – and I’m quite bad at following this advice, but signing out of emails means you avoid getting pulled back into thoughts of work. There is nothing so urgent that it can’t wait (if it was, you wouldn’t be receiving an email about it, you’d be getting 15 phone calls from your boss).
3. Make plans 👯
Even if your plans are to have a bubble bath and watch a movie, it’s so important to dedicate some time to doing something totally non-work related. Equally, if you’re doing something a little more social, spend the time actually being social, not uttering those fateful words: ‘sorry, just a work thing’ and spending the next 15 minutes on your phone.
4. Cook dinner from scratch 🍳
There’s something insanely therapeutic about cooking something completely home-made. Fill your house with warmth and lovely smells (I’m thinking of a beautiful winter stew right now, as I’m sat on an extremely air-conditioned train). It doesn’t matter if it’s messy as long as it’s the kind of comforting, delicious meal that will help you unwind.
5. Get an early night 💤
It can be difficult to sleep when you’ve got work on the mind, but I try my best to put all of those thoughts aside and climb into bed with a book (or just my phone…) and have some real me-time before getting to sleep nice and early.
6. Tidy up 💪
A cluttered surrounding makes your mind more cluttered too. I usually spend about 5 minutes each evening (or every other evening) giving the house a quick once-over, putting things away or just fluffing the pillows. It’s amazing how big a difference the space around you makes on your mind. You’ll also feel really good because you’ve done something productive which hasn’t been work related at all.
7. Write down/talk about your frustrations 👂
I know, I know, dwelling on your work-related frustrations sounds the opposite of ‘unwinding’, but by laying it all out on the table, you’re allowing yourself to get it out of your system so you can carry on with your evening. You will no doubt end up dwelling more on them if you bottle them up. A problem shared is a problem halved!
While not all of these will work for everyone, I hope that at least one of them is somewhat useful to you. If not, my advice would be to list all the things you do when you’re stressed out and trying to calm yourself down. It’ll often be the same kind of stuff – things to help you relax – that will work in this scenario too. Even if you’re not stressed (or don’t think you are), it’s surprising how positive the effects can be.