Can't Switch Off? 15 Ways to Help Reduce Stress and Reconnect

Switching off can feel somewhat of a luxury when you’re an overthinker, but even for the most relaxed of us, COVID has presented us with a situation none of us were prepared for.

At the beginning of lockdown, there was an abundance of support and ideas - from Joe Wick’s PE workouts to working from home advice. New hobbies, new ways of working and a feeling of being in it together.   

We came out of lockdown and are now faced with the unfortunate ‘Hokey Cokey’ of changes. Are we in or out? How can we ensure we play our part and minimise ‘shaking it all about’? Add in the clocks going back in the UK, darker evenings and colder weather, its little wonder many of us feel are feeling demotivated and anxious, with switching off being an ongoing struggle.

Whether you’re working from home and finding your children off school again, you’re trying to run a business, you’re out of work and actively seeking work; or finding yourself twiddling your thumbs – you can find your mind is always switched on.

It’s important to keep our minds active, but the stress that comes with rarely switching off can have long term mental and physical health impacts, in addition to the impacts it can have on relationships, connection and confidence.

We have to view this as a marathon, not a sprint. Switching off is essential to maintain our endurance.

Here’s some tips to help you switch off from your work or your worries.

  • Start the day early – get up earlier than everyone else and set some intentions for the day. Create three positive intentions and three top to-dos. Factor in at least one selfcare moment.
  • Start the day with movement – your mental and physical energy will be higher if you start the day actively.
  • Make breakfast family time – even if it’s for 10 mins. You’ll all benefit from the connection. If you live alone, schedule an online breakfast with a family member or friend.
  • Review your to-do list – what is urgent and important? What can you delegate?
  • Create plans for the evening – your workload might be through the roof, or you might be struggling to switch off from job hunting – either way if you make plans, you’ll have something to look forward to and something to prioritise. Plans could be as simple as an after dinner walk with torches, or a movie night.
  • Take a lunchbreak – even if it’s for 20 mins. Take time to prepare your food and eat it slowly. Your body cannot digest your food effectively if you prioritise work, or another task over it.
  • Get outside – there are many benefits from being outside, it lessens anxiety, improves sleep, improves focus and also helps us get much needed vitamin D - the ‘sunshine’ vitamin. Vitamin D is essential for healthy bones and muscles so in winter PHE and the NHS recommend a vitamin D supplement, given there is less daylight and we spend more time indoors.
  • Set boundaries – if you would normally go to a place of work and your boundaries are slipping because you work from home, try to be strict with yourself and have clear work and home time.
  • Share the load – if you’re struggling to keep on top of things, ensure the whole family take part in household chores and you work as a team as much as possible. Share how you feel with someone you trust. Spending too much time ‘in your own head’ can be detrimental to your mental health.
  • At the end of the day, reflect on your accomplishments by reviewing the intentions you set at the start of the day. Focus on what you achieved, not what you didn’t.
  • Plan the next day. It is easier to switch off when you have downloaded your to-do list and created a plan of action for the following day.
  • Talk to your employer if your workload is excessive, or you are struggling to cope – your employer has a duty of care to ensure your workload is manageable, and that your wellbeing is prioritised.
  • Switch off ALL devices at least an hour before bed, if not early evening if you can. You can put your phone on airplane mode with the option to allow calls. That way you’re contactable in an emergency but not tempted to continually check email and social media accounts.
  • Practice mindfulness – this can take many forms, it doesn’t have to mean mastering meditation, that can take years of practice! Simply taking a minute to be fully aware of your breath and senses can significantly reduce stress levels.
  • Maintain perspective and cut yourself some slack – beating yourself up will make you feel worse, these are unprecedented times and no-one has all the answers. Remember you are doing your best so be kind to yourself! Burnout is a very real threat – if you don’t take care of yourself and set unrealistic expectations you could become unwell. Mental and physical health go hand in hand – and with a healthy immune system being a top priority, your health has to be prioritised.

 

All of the above tips collectively will help you switch off, sleep better and feel better. You’ll have more time and energy to be present for those you care about and feel better able to cope with the changing world around you.

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