One thing that became clear to many during the many months of lockdown working from home, was that the lines between work time and home time often became blurred, often resulting in a higher number of working hours than before the pandemic began.
According to research, employees in the UK increased their weekly working hours by 25%, and across the developed world, statistics showed an average increase per day of 2 hours.
Many reported that without a designated activity that signalled the end of the working day and the start of their home time, such as commuting or having a drink with friends after work, it became difficult to separate the two.
If you are working from home, it’s important to differentiate these two periods of time, ideally with a relaxing activity that not only allows you to let go of the stresses of the working day but puts you in a peaceful mindset to enjoy the rest of your day. Here are 6 ways to relax after a day in your home office.
There are few better ways to blow out the stress of the working day than through exercise, which comes with a whole host of health benefits. Physical activity floods the body with endorphins that not only provides us with a feeling of pleasure and well-being, but also reduces pain, discomfort and, of course, stress.
One other benefit of exercise is that it actually mimics stress, but in a way that the body can deal with. By activating our fight or flight response, and combining it with vigorous exercise, our bodies align in ways that were meant to work together, but rarely do today. The low-grade stress that we experience during the working day builds up because it cannot be released in its natural form.
The art of meditation, which has been practised for over 1,500 years, may not always be easy, but its results can often be spectacular. According to Healthline, meditation comes with scores of benefits, including reduced stress, anxiety control, better attention span, increased emotional awareness and much more.
However, for many, getting into mediation is a confusing and frustrating process. The early stages can be infuriating as your mind jumps back and forth, but it is unquestionably well worth it in the long run.
3) Go for a walk in nature
Let’s be clear, any kind of walking is great, but if you really want to go all out, take yourself out into nature and leave that phone in your pocket. Walking boosts your energy levels and is an excellent way to let go of stress, while time spent in nature has been shown to lower concentrations of cortisol, lower pulse rate and blood pressure.
If you want to take things even further, why not try out the Japanese practice of Shinrin Yoku - otherwise known as Forest Bathing - a mix of walking, meditation and nature that is guaranteed to leave you feeling significantly calmer than when you began.
4) A Warm Bath
OK, this is probably not something you’re going to do every day, but once in a while, after a particularly stressful day, there are a few things that feel as wonderful as a nice relaxing bath. And this is not just something that feels great, as there are numerous scientifically-proven benefits of having a bath, including improving heart health, reducing pain and inflammation and also calming the nervous system, which in turn reduces stress.
5) Write something
Often people feel like they carry their problems into their home environment because there is no outlet for them. One way of letting it out is to speak to a friend or family member, but always be aware that while venting at people can be good from time to time, do you really want to be the person who complains about work every time you speak to a friend?
Another great way to vent, which doesn’t involve weighing somebody else down, is to keep a journal. It may sound a little childish to some, but writing down a few thoughts each day comes with numerous benefits, including lowering stress, improving your chances of creating and then achieving goals, and improving your memory. You don’t need to write pages and pages to see the benefits, simply write what’s on your mind, what’s worrying you, what’s stressing you and perhaps even some ideas of how to approach them. You'll be surprised what a little writing can do.
6) Be Creative
Humans are born to create, but as we grow older, too often it begins to slip away. Think about it, as children we are forever drawing, painting and building, but as adults, we become stuck in a cycle of work and short-term pleasure fixes.
The vast majority work in jobs that have little to no creativity, often task-based and frequently repetitive. What better way to do something completely different after work than by creating something entirely unique and original. You don’t need to be a Picasso to see the benefits of creative expression, which include improved mood, greater self-esteem, better cognitive function and lower stress and anxiety. Who cares if it will never win or prize or hang in the National Portrait Gallery, find something you love and start creating.