Switch Off: Home Relaxation

how to stop thinking about office at home

Thinking about work at home can be stressful and disruptive to your personal life. To stop thinking about the office when you're at home, try setting boundaries, such as designated worry times or a work-only space in your home. You can also practice being present through meditation, exercise, or hobbies. Additionally, creating to-do lists, journaling, and engaging in physical activity can help reduce stress and improve sleep quality.


Set boundaries and a stop time for work

Setting boundaries and a stop time for work is crucial for maintaining a healthy work-life balance and ensuring that work doesn't intrude on your personal time. Here are some strategies to help you set boundaries and a stop time for work:

Set a clear stop time for work

Decide on a specific time to end your workday, such as 6 p.m. or 7 p.m. Set an alarm on your phone to remind yourself that the workday is over. After this time, refrain from checking work emails or engaging in any work-related tasks. This will signal to your brain that it's time to shift your focus to your personal life and interests outside of work.

Establish boundaries with your colleagues and supervisor

Communicate your boundaries clearly to your colleagues and supervisor. Let them know that you will be fully present during work hours but that you also need time to commit to your personal life. If you need to be available for urgent matters after work hours, set a specific time, such as 9 p.m., to check your emails or respond to work-related matters.

Tie off loose ends before leaving work

Before leaving work for the day or the weekend, tie off any loose ends to avoid having unfinished tasks lingering in your mind. Make a to-do list for the next day, jot down notes for important emails, or postpone brainstorming sessions until the next day. By doing so, you can leave work behind, both physically and mentally, when you walk out of the office.

Create a buffer zone after work

Establish a buffer period after work to help you transition from the work mindset to your personal life. Engage in activities that help you relax and unwind, such as reading, listening to music, or practising yoga. This will enable you to leave the stress of work behind and fully embrace your personal time.

Activate work recovery strategies

It is essential to detach yourself from work-related thoughts and stress to prevent them from affecting your personal life and well-being. You can achieve this through relaxation techniques, recreational activities, or mastering a hobby or skill. Engaging in mastery activities, in particular, can be highly effective in reducing stress and boosting your confidence and self-esteem.

Choose intrinsic goals

Focus on intrinsic goals rather than external payoffs. Engage in activities that bring you joy, excellence, service, learning, or personal growth. When you pursue activities that align with your passions and values, you are more likely to be fully present and engaged in the moment, leaving work-related thoughts behind.

By implementing these strategies, you can effectively set boundaries and a stop time for work, allowing you to achieve a healthier work-life balance and a more fulfilling personal life.


Create a buffer zone to transition from work to home

Creating a buffer zone is an excellent way to transition from work to home life. Here are some tips to help you establish this practice:

  • Engage in relaxing activities: After work, do something that helps you unwind and transition to a calmer state. This could include reading a book, listening to soothing music, practising yoga, or engaging in any other activity that helps you relax.
  • Use your commute time: If you have a commute, utilise this time to prepare for the transition to your home life. Listen to calming music, practise deep breathing, or do anything else that helps you leave work stress behind and get ready to be present at home.
  • Set boundaries: Establish clear boundaries between work and home. Set a specific time when the workday ends and stick to it. During this time, avoid checking work emails or engaging in work-related tasks.
  • Practise self-care: Take care of yourself by engaging in activities that nourish your body and mind. This could include exercising, meditating, spending time in nature, or pursuing a hobby. These activities can help you transition from work to home by improving your overall well-being.
  • Create a ritual: Develop a routine or ritual that signals the end of the workday and the beginning of your personal time. This could be as simple as closing your laptop, putting away your phone, or taking a short walk around the block to signify the transition from work to home.
  • Connect with loved ones: Spend time with your family or friends after work. Plan activities or rituals that help you connect and be present with them. This could be sharing a meal, having a conversation, or engaging in a hobby or activity together.

By implementing these strategies, you can effectively create a buffer zone to transition from work to home, improving your work-life balance and overall well-being.


Write down work thoughts when they arise

Writing down your thoughts is a great way to declutter your mind and prepare it for taking action to resolve issues. It is a good way to deal with stress and clarify your emotions.

  • Keep a notepad and pen with you at all times. Alternatively, use the notes app on your phone.
  • If you are driving, use a voice recorder or voice-to-text app to record your thoughts.
  • If you are in a meeting or conversation, excuse yourself politely and write down your thoughts.
  • Set aside a specific time each day to write down your thoughts. This could be during your lunch break or at the end of the day before you leave the office.
  • Don't worry about writing perfectly structured sentences. Just focus on getting your thoughts down on paper or on a screen.
  • Review your thoughts at the end of the day and add any additional ideas or insights that come to you.
  • Use writing down your thoughts as an opportunity to identify any cognitive distortions or negative thought patterns that may be impacting your work or personal life.
  • Write down both positive and negative thoughts. This will help you gain perspective and understand what is truly important to you.
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Establish a worry time to think about work problems

Establishing a worry time to think about work problems is a great way to stop thinking about the office at home. Here are some tips to help you establish a worry time:

Choose a designated time and place

Select a specific time and place for your worry period, such as in the living room from 5:00 to 5:20 pm. Ensure that the time you choose is early enough that it won't make you anxious right before bedtime. Having a set time and place will help you develop a routine and train your brain to stay calm during other times of the day.

Write down your worries

Throughout the day, when work-related worries pop into your head, make a brief note of them and then continue with your day. Knowing that you have a designated time to think about these worries later will help you stay focused on the present and reduce anxiety. Writing down your thoughts is also harder work than simply thinking them, so your worries are likely to lose their power.

Review your worries during the worry period

During your designated worry period, take time to review the thoughts and worries you wrote down. Allow yourself to worry about them, but only for the amount of time you've allocated. As you examine your worries, you may find it easier to develop a more balanced perspective. If your worries don't seem important anymore, cut your worry period short and enjoy the rest of your day.

Be mindful of your thoughts

Rather than trying to ignore, fight, or control your anxious thoughts, simply observe them from an outsider's perspective without reacting or judging. Acknowledge that your worries are there, but don't engage with them. This will help you identify where your thinking is causing problems and allow you to get in touch with your emotions.

Practice mindfulness meditation

Meditation can be a powerful tool to help you stay focused on the present moment and interrupt the cycle of negative thoughts and worries. Basic mindfulness meditation involves sitting in a comfortable position with your eyes closed, focusing on your breathing, and bringing your attention back to the present moment whenever your mind wanders. Aim to meditate for at least 10 minutes per day, 3-4 times per week.

By establishing a worry time and following these steps, you can effectively manage your thoughts about work and create a healthier work-life balance.


Exercise self-compassion to break the cycle of negative thoughts

Self-compassion is a powerful tool to help you break free from negative thought patterns and improve your overall well-being. It involves treating yourself with kindness, patience, and understanding, especially during challenging times. Here are some ways to cultivate self-compassion and stop thinking about work when you're at home:

Set boundaries

Create clear boundaries between your work and personal life. Set a specific time to stop working each day, and stick to it. During your designated work hours, give your full attention to the task at hand, and when it's time to stop, gently shift your focus to your personal life. This helps you stay present and reduces feelings of guilt and stress.

Practice mindfulness

Mindfulness is a key aspect of self-compassion. It involves observing your thoughts and emotions without judgment. When work-related thoughts arise, acknowledge them, but don't get caught up in rumination. Gently bring your attention back to the present moment. Practices like meditation can help you cultivate mindfulness and improve your ability to manage negative thoughts.

Challenge cognitive distortions

Cognitive distortions are thoughts that don't reflect reality accurately and tend to make things seem worse than they are. Common distortions include over-generalizing negative events, mentally filtering out positive experiences, jumping to negative conclusions, and making "should" statements. Challenge these distortions by asking yourself, "Will this matter in 5 years?" This helps you gain perspective and focus on what's truly important.

Engage in self-care

Taking care of yourself is an essential aspect of self-compassion. When you're feeling overwhelmed by work thoughts, engage in activities that nurture your body and mind. This could include exercising, meditating, spending time in nature, connecting with loved ones, or pursuing a hobby. By focusing on self-care, you redirect your attention away from work and towards activities that promote well-being.

Write down your thoughts

When work thoughts arise, try writing them down. This helps you get them out of your head and makes it easier to let them go. Keep a notebook and pen nearby to jot down any work thoughts that are bothering you. Once you've written them down, consciously decide to move on and engage in a different activity.

Be kind to yourself

Treat yourself with the same compassion you would show a dear friend. We often hold ourselves to impossibly high standards and beat ourselves up for our perceived failures. Practice self-compassion by offering yourself understanding, patience, and kindness. Forgive yourself for your mistakes, and remember that everyone has flaws and struggles. Speak to yourself with the same gentleness and encouragement you would offer to a friend.

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Frequently asked questions

Set boundaries between work and home life. Try to finish off loose ends before leaving work and use your commute to prepare for being at home. Establish times to check your work emails and jot down any work thoughts that you don't want to forget.

Try to be present in the moment and distract yourself by structuring your free time with activities. You could also try the 5-year rule: ask yourself, "Will this matter in 5 years?" If the answer is no, stop stressing about it.

Try to limit how much you talk about work at home. Start conversations with friends and family on non-work topics. Let people know that you're making an effort not to talk about work so they can hold you accountable.

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