The art of ‘switching off’
The ability to ‘switch off’ is a truly delicate art form; according to research almost a third of workers struggle to master “how to switch off from work in their personal time”.
For many of us it has been five months since we stopped our daily commute and the routine of office working. Whilst working from home has certainly had its perks, a study by Harvard Business School has found that on average, people have clocked up an extra 48.5 minutes of working time a day, more than your average commute. This may be down to the additional emails sent out after normal working hours which has risen by 8%.
Once it’s past your clocking off time it is hard to turn off and forget about work for the evening as our work environments and home spaces have now merged. For me, the kitchen table is my office space so day or night my work equipment is always in sight, increasing the temptation in the evening to ‘just check my emails’. So now it’s even more important than ever to switch off the computer, tuck the work phone away and decline those out of hours meeting requests.
It’s not always easy. With hard deadlines looming and large workloads which can feel never-ending, it can seem impossible to turn off in the evenings. But over the lockdown period I’ve gathered a few tools and methods to truly unwind.
One of my favourites is snuggling up with a good book, although I sometimes don’t pick up a book for weeks, when I do, I thoroughly enjoy the escapism that comes with diving into a story. My favourite recent read which I would highly recommend is Blood Orange by Harriet Tyce, a book which initially caught my eye on the Richard and Judy Book Club (a great place to start when looking for your next book!). My colleague James Ellaby also wrote a blog recently on the many benefits of reading and the joy you can experience in getting lost in a good read.
On par with reading for me is music, Katie Patterson recently wrote on her love for music and especially live gigs. So whether it be classical, rock, disco or pop – music has a huge power in helping us shift bad moods or to ramp up good moods. It can even encourage us to have a good boogie around the kitchen, which definitely shifts our attention away from the working day.
If you prefer to run the day away, I recommend the PlanMyRoute App. It enables you to free-hand plan an exact route and avoids the risk of getting lost especially if exploring a new area. Tracking your activity on apps such as MapMyRun also gives you a great sense of achievement after a long day.
Sleep is the final step in switching off from the day. Whilst this has been even harder during the recent heatwaves, getting a decent night sleep ensures we’re ready for the next day ahead. At the beginning of lockdown, I discovered the Get Sleepy podcast. Rather than the usual ‘sleep sounds’ this podcast uses a unique combination of sleep meditation followed by a calming story, many of which are based on factual events. Last night I learnt that at the Palace of Versailles Marie-Antoinette had a hamlet built on the grounds so she could escape her duties and spend days milking cows and living as a peasant. Unfortunately, I never got to the end of the story…