What are the best ways to relax when the working week is over? How do you truly switch off? Find the answers you need in our ultimate unplug for the weekend guide.
Modern life is full of digital distractions and, as a result, the boundaries between work and home are blurring. The work-from-home ethos of the pandemic lockdowns made this line even blurrier.
Guardian writer Moya Sarner explains the problem well: “When I find myself at home with a free evening, I often have no idea what to do and inevitably end up starring emptily at one screen or another for hours before stumbling off to bed, wondering where the time has gone.”
Yet we know that being able to switch off is important for our mental and physical wellbeing. Not doing so can add to our stress levels and, in the worst cases, lead to burnout.
Creating little rituals to let yourself know that it is the end of the working week is a great way to remind yourself to switch off. It could be something as simple as treating yourself to an hour in the gym, opting to walk home for a change of pace, or running yourself a bubble bath when you get home. Choose something simple that can become a regular Friday night fixture so you can mark the occasion and know it’s time to forget about work and schedule some relaxation.
Relaxing is increasingly difficult in our “always on” digital world. The Conversation points out that using our digital devices “blurs the boundaries between work and home, stopping psychological detachment from work taking place.” Instead, put away your devices if you can and spend time on “real world” activities.
When you are looking for activities that don’t involve your digital devices, choose activities that make you happy. Avoid socialising with people who make you feel drained or with whom you will end up complaining or thinking about work. Instead, opt for activities outside in nature if you can.
Spending time in nature has been shown to reduce stress and lower anxiety. If you have your own outside space, gardening is a fantastic way to destress. Alternatively, explore hiking or cycling trails, go into local parks or woodland to exercise, try an outside yoga or exercise class, or you could test out the Japanese practice of Shinrin Yoku or forest bathing.
Regular exercise isn’t only good for your physical health; it’s great for your mental health too. Exercise is a real mood enhancer, especially if you can exercise outside in nature. Sports and exercise are especially good for workaholics because it helps to make the psychological detachment from work easier.
Quality sleep is another mood improver that can also help to reduce stress and improve your health. If you find it difficult to get to sleep, introduce a relaxing bedtime ritual into your schedule to let your body know it’s time for sleep. Take a bath with rock salts, scented candles, low lighting and soothing music. As well as getting your body ready for sleep it can also help boost circulation and relieve muscle stress.
Finding time to switch off and unwind is essential in our fast-paced digital world. The risks of not doing so can be great: stress and burnout are among them. And the rewards are great: making time for the activities and people you love is vital for a healthy mindset and a good work-life balance.
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