Our brain finds it difficult to let go of unfinished business. That’s useful if we don’t want to forget important things, but it can also get in the way quite a bit when we try to disconnect ourselves from work in our free time, for example.
According to a 2018 study, psychologically disconnecting from work is one of the best ways to prevent and reduce stress. Simply no longer checking your mail and no longer performing work tasks in our spare time is not enough. If we are still busy with work somewhere in the back of our minds, it prevents our brains from recovering from the working day.
Mistakes that cause work stress
So disconnecting is easier said than done. Because how can we influence what we think? Fortunately, research has also been done on this, and there are several ways to achieve this. These are the mistakes you want to avoid at the end of your workday and what to do instead.
Causes of work stress
1. Check mail
Do you end your mailbox by checking your mailbox? Then stop that immediately. It may be nice to send a few more e-mails, but there is a good chance that tasks will arise that you cannot directly check off. This activates new tasks in your brain, as it were, while you want to prevent this.
2. A tricky, complex task
For the same reason, it is not wise to end your working day with a difficult, complex task. There is a good chance that you will not complete these completely. So save this task for the start of the day, when you are also nice and fresh and fruity, and you probably finish it much faster. Save easy, quick tasks for the last hour so you can check off and end your workday on a high note.
3. End your working day without a ritual
We already mentioned it in the intro, but having a habit or ritual at the end of your working day helps your brain make the switch from ‘working time’ to ‘free time. This is especially important now that we work from home and do not travel home.
4. Possible rituals against work stress
I can hear you thinking: what kind of habit or ritual should you introduce at the end of the working day if that glass of vodka doesn’t seem like a good idea to you?
5. Make a plan for the next day
Since you probably also have long-term projects and don’t always get everything on your to-do list, it’s impossible to complete everything every day. Do you have a task that you have not got around to? Then you can give your brain a helping hand by coming up with a plan. When and how will you complete the task? The plan is, as it were, a way to soothe your brain.
6. Sport or exercise against work stress
It’s no longer a secret that exercise provides happiness hormones and is a natural way to reduce stress. You can clear your head and start the evening with energy again by exercising. A walk around the block is a good alternative. You literally and figuratively close the door behind you during your working day. There is almost no clearer switch for your brain.
7. Tidy up your workplace
If you work from home and do not have a home office, it is important to tidy up your work items every day and keep them out of sight. But even if you work in the office or have a closed room at home to work, this is a nice ritual that helps you disconnect from work.
Whatever your ritual is and whether it lasts 5 or 15 minutes, helping your brain disconnect will allow you to relax (unconsciously).