Today you’re going to learn how to stop thinking about work.
A healthy and happy life requires a work-life balance. However, sometimes it can be hard to forget about unread emails and looming deadlines.
If you spend most of your free time thinking about work, consider whether it’s better to be more present in the moment, find ways to distract yourself, or set clearer boundaries between home and work.
How To Stop Thinking About Work:
1. Take into account any work-related cognitive distortions you may have.
Cognitive distortions are ideas that inaccurately reflect the reality of a situation or make things seem worse than they really are. If they are not controlled, they can cause you to feel bad about yourself and be dissatisfied with your job. The following are examples of common cognitive distortions that occur in the workplace:
Overgeneralizing a single unpleasant event into a universal norm, such as assuming your supervisor despises you because you were reprimanded once,
Filtering out the positive aspects of the day in your mind For example, if you focus solely on a long, boring meeting, you will forget about a nice lunch with colleagues or the customer who praised your excellent service.
When your company reports that sales for this quarter were not as high as anticipated, you may conclude that you are first on the list to be fired.
Examples of “should” statements include, “I should already be making $100,000 a year” or “I should be promoted for how hard I work.”
2. Use the 5-year rule to put things in perspective.
When something is bothering you or stressing you out at work, ask yourself, “Will this matter in 5 years?” If the answer is “no,” stop worrying about it. This exercise helps you remember the bigger picture and what matters most.
Will it matter in 5 years if you stumble during an important presentation at a meeting? Not at all.Will it matter if you miss a presentation and get fired? Yes.
The 5-year rule also helps you prioritize your work. Don’t let the things that won’t matter in 5 years take over your life; instead, focus on the things that will.
3. When you think about going to work, put a rubber band around your wrist.
Wrap the rubber band around your wrist. Snap the bracelet onto your wrist each time a thought about work pops into your head. This way, you will be “nudged” back into the present moment. Next, direct your attention to something else.
Because you want your body to not get slammed by the rubber band, a little pain causes your brain to stop thinking about work.
Snap the rubber band gently so as not to leave a mark. You’re not trying to hurt yourself.
4. Give yourself just 10 minutes each day to think about work.
Set a timer for 10 minutes and write down anything that comes to mind about work in a notebook or on your phone’s notes app. When the 10 minutes are up, put the notebook away or close the app. For the rest of the day, don’t worry about work.
Schedule your 10-minute portions the same way you would a meeting in your planner or calendar. This will give your thoughts some structure.
Avoiding thoughts altogether is impractical and will only exacerbate anxiety.
5. Practice being present with 10-minute meditations on a regular basis.
Set a timer for 10 minutes and lie on the floor in a comfortable position with your eyes closed. Concentrate on the sensations of your breath and how it flows in and out of your nostrils. When a thought arises, notice it before focusing on the breath again.
Focusing on the breath distracts you from your work. It also causes you to relax and slow down.
The meditation can last as long as you like. For newbies, 10 minutes is a great start.
To get started, download a free meditation app for your phone or watch an online video with a meditation guide.
6. Make an appointment with a cognitive behavioral therapist.
During cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) (1), you will learn to recognize harmful patterns of thinking and behavior and replace them with good ones. The therapist will also help you better manage stress.
In therapy, you can talk to your heart’s content and vent about your problems without fear of being judged or suffering consequences.
If you have personal problems, some companies may offer an employee assistance program (EAP) that covers short-term mental health treatment. Check ahead of time to see if the EAP program covers a limited number of sessions.
How often you visit your therapist is entirely up to you. If you feel you need extra help, you can go once a week. Check with your doctor to see if there is a limit to the number of sessions she can cover.
7. Schedule your free time so that you don’t have time to worry about work.
The more things you plan to do after hours, the less time work-related problems will take up your time. At the beginning of each week, plan how you will spend your evenings, from going to happy hour with friends to running errands. In the same way, prepare for the upcoming weekend, which will fall on a Thursday or Friday.
Plan your week in a planner or on your phone using a calendar app.
Fill your calendar with activities that are not just social. It is also important to take some time to relax. However, find other activities to spend that time on, such as reading a book or playing with your dog.
8. Find a new hobby to do in your spare time.
Use your mental energy to learn a new skill or start a new pastime, such as baking, carpentry, or computer games. When choosing a hobby, think about what you loved to do as a child or what you’ve always wanted to try. Make a commitment to practice or participate in the new pastime at least three times a week.
If you have trouble mastering a new skill or interest, don’t give up. It takes time to get used to new situations, so give yourself a chance before you give up. The more you practice, the better you will get and the more fun you will have practicing.
There are plenty of free online courses, from learning a foreign language to programming.
Choose a hobby that has nothing to do with your work. Instead of something that requires the same area of your brain as your job, try a creative activity, such as if you are an accountant, try painting or learning to play an instrument.
9. To reduce tension, exercise at least 30 minutes each day.
Exercise not only releases endorphins in your brain, thus improving your mood, but also relieves tension and reduces stress. Plus, you’re not thinking about work, concentrating on putting one foot in front of the other or counting repetitions. A benefit for both parties.
Workouts that are challenging or include intervals require full concentration on the activity at hand. A boxing workout or Zumba class will provide more variety than a long run where you’ll be left alone with your thoughts.
If you don’t have time to do everything at once, divide your 30 minutes of exercise into smaller parts. Six times a day, take three 10-minute walks or do five minutes of push-ups and sit-ups.
10. Join a social group that doesn’t consist of people from your workplace.
Socializing will make you less anxious about work, especially if you meet people you don’t see every day at work. Join a social sports league or meet organizations, attend workshops at your local gym, or book clubs at the library. Ask friends if they know of any clubs or organizations you could join.
You can search for groups in your area on sites like Meetup.com (2), depending on your interests.
11. Go on a vacation without work to rejuvenate yourself.
Leave your work computer and phone at home, organize activities for your break and concentrate on enjoying the sights and meeting new people. Before you leave, make sure to finalize all loose ends and arrange for a replacement at work so you don’t have to worry while you’re away. Since you won’t (or shouldn’t) be monitoring your mailbox, set up email outside the office.
You don’t have to spend a lot of money or travel far to do this. Even a “staycation,” where you spend a few days alone at home, can help you relax.
Take a few weeks to organize a vacation to get away from work. Reading travel literature, looking at pictures of your destination on Instagram, and planning your itinerary can occupy your mind.
12. It is a good idea to establish rituals to help you transition from work to home.
It’s impossible to turn off your thoughts as soon as you leave work. Create “rites of passage” that occupy the time between leaving work and crossing the threshold at home to teach your mind to gradually quiet down. While driving, you can make a phone call, listen to an audiobook, or go to the gym for a short workout.
The idea is to somehow divide your time between work and home so that you don’t carry thoughts of work into your home. Before you get to your destination, give yourself time to relax.
The same principle can be applied to your morning routine. Incorporate a transitional routine, such as stopping for coffee or listening to a podcast, to help your brain shift into work mode.
13. At the end of the day, review your to-do list to leave work at your workplace.
Before leaving the workplace, check off everything you accomplished and then add anything you want to do the next day. Knowing that you have fulfilled your responsibilities and are prepared for the next day can alleviate some of the worry, and you won’t be frantically poring over the list in your mind at night.
Keeping a running to-do list in a notebook or on a smartphone or tablet using list-making software
Feeling out of control of tasks and deadlines at work causes a lot of stress. Improving your organization and preparation will greatly reduce the amount of time you spend thinking about work.
14. Turn off all gadgets at least once a day.
Set aside time each day to unplug or put away all devices (phone, tablet, computer, etc.). Chances are you won’t check email after 8 p.m. or answer your phone during dinner. Whatever it is, stick with it and avoid the impulse to check email or make phone calls, even if you really want to.
To avoid being woken up by email notifications or phone calls, sleep with your phone in airplane mode or the Do Not Disturb option. In addition, you can change the Do Not Disturb settings so that calls from certain contacts are let through in case of an emergency.
I have two phones: one for business use and one for personal use. If you want to use your phone for social networking or gaming, you can do so without worrying about being bothered by notifications from work.
Unplugging for an entire weekend, Friday evening through Sunday evening, can help you disconnect from work and avoid a flurry of thoughts.
15. Create a designated work area in your home
Keep all the work you need to take home in one place, such as an office or guest room. If you work at the kitchen table or on the living room couch, for example, your brain will get used to thinking about work even when you’re not there.
Never take your work phone or laptop into your bedroom. Working in the bedroom disrupts your sleep cycle because your brain associates the bedroom with work and is less likely to shut down at night.
16. Don’t talk too much about work at home.
There’s a difference between answering “How was your day?” and starting an hour-long monologue about your new coworker. Complaining about work, or even just bringing up a problem at work, makes you focus on it and reinforces the negativity. Start a discussion with family or friends about something other than work.
Tell them that you try to avoid talking about work as often as possible. Not only will this help them understand what is and isn’t acceptable conversation, but it will also allow them to hold you accountable. They will stop you if you start ranting about work.
I want to thank you for taking the time to read my article about how to stop thinking about work. I sincerely hope its contents have been a good help to you.