unwind anxiety
Image: Peter Bernik

Are you struggling to unwind after leaving work?

5 Feb 2018

Letting go of workplace stress is easier said than done, so here’s our advice on how to truly unwind outside of the office.

No matter how wonderful and fun your job is, it’s still satisfying to leave the office after a hard day’s work, be it just clocking out on a Friday evening for a weekend or heading off on a well-deserved vacation.

To think that once you leave the office your brain will automatically switch off and drift away to a more relaxed place is oversimplifying the matter, however.

In reality, sometimes even outside the office, worries about upcoming deadlines, meetings or whether an idea will pan out can bleed into your thoughts, even when you’re supposed to be relaxing.

It’s not your fault, and it doesn’t mean that you’ve morphed into a full-blown workaholic. It’s unrealistic to expect yourself to instantly decompress.

Think of it in the same way you heed the advice not to eat, exercise, take a hot shower or use your smartphone right before you sleep – your brain needs time to climb down from overstimulation.

If you find that you carry your workplace anxieties with you, these tips might be able to help you unwind and get the fortifying breaks you need in order to give it your all when you’re at work.

‘Don’t fight the feeling’

This nugget of advice comes from Haley Goldberg, a content strategist at the motivational self-care app Shine Text. “Part of my struggle to decompress is feeling like I have to do it ASAP,” she explained.

“The moment the weekend starts, I feel like I have to feel relaxed immediately, or else I’m wasting away my precious weekend time.”

Blaming yourself for something completely natural kicks off a vicious mental cycle. You’re not relaxed, you berate yourself for not being relaxed, your existing anxiety is compounded with disappointment in yourself and then you end up feeling even less relaxed.

It’s difficult to avoid backsliding into this mental trap. A good way to curtail its effects, however, is to be conscious that this is something out of your control.

Once you relieve that unrealistic expectation you’re setting for yourself, you’ll feel a little less pressure and your body’s natural way of decompressing can run its course.

If you’re going on holidays, wrap up efficiently  

One thing that can potentially spoil a holiday is if you feel like you didn’t get things wrapped up to your satisfaction before heading off. It’s kind of similar to that niggling fear that you’ve left an appliance on or you haven’t locked your front door before leaving your home.

Try using this handy guide we compiled to ensure you have all your ducks in a row before jetting off to whatever far-flung location you’re heading to.

Disconnect from technology

As we’ve written before, technology has made it possible to be connected to the office at all times.

It doesn’t mean you should, though – quite the opposite. We’d recommend that you try disconnect from the office as much as possible outside of working hours.

Not being able to check your work email or take calls from clients will make it easier for you to forget about your work for a little while.

Get a restful night’s sleep

Honestly? The last time I got a perfectly restful night’s sleep was likely in the womb. I’m fully aware that this is something more easily said than done.

It can’t be denied, however, that sleep deprivation is ruinous for your physical and mental wellbeing. If you get overtired, you may find that it manifests into more tension and anxiety (ironic, since you’d think being tired would make you sleepier and therefore more chilled).

Regulating your sleep pattern by not sleeping in at weekends, as well as developing a bedtime routine, can go a long way towards ensuring you get a good night’s sleep.

Ask yourself if the problem is more serious

Anxiety is a normal feeling. Work, in turn, is naturally anxiety-inducing at times.

However, if you find that your work-related anxiety is ever present and is starting to affect your daily life, you may need to ask yourself whether your struggle is something you need to seek treatment for.

If you think you need time off from work or any kind of mental health-related accommodation, here is some advice that can help you broach the issue with your employer.

Eva Short
By Eva Short

Eva Short was a journalist at Silicon Republic, specialising in the areas of tech, data privacy, business, cybersecurity, AI, automation and future of work, among others.

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