Over the past few years, the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent increase in hybrid and remote work have blurred the lines between home and professional life. As the stress in our work lives increases, our mood regulation skills become less effective. When this happens, work stress can bleed into our home and personal lives.⁸
The rise of hybrid work has driven home the importance of discovering how to disconnect from work. A good work-life balance can benefit your work satisfaction and overall mental health.⁵ This article will further address how imperative disconnecting is for both individuals and businesses alike.
Many employees struggle to disconnect from work because they want to prove their value to the company. These employees struggle with telling managers and co-workers “no.” They often feel they should be doing something productive during their downtime and don’t feel rejuvenated after a rest day.³
Employees in this category are often overworked and at risk of experiencing burnout. While taking a break and disconnecting from work may be difficult to do, rest is the best way to focus on your personal needs and reestablish a boundary between work responsibilities and personal life.³
Changing your mindset about downtime can help you let go of guilt, practice sustainable work habits, increase your motivation at work, and improve productivity.³
Here are nine tips to help you disconnect from work:
Planning fun activities or challenges can help take your mind off work. Playing sports, knitting, hiking, reading, or learning something new can give you something to look forward to after work and may even improve your focus and creativity.⁵ Anything unrelated to work will help your brain get much-needed rest.
Many business professionals understand the importance of setting a routine after work that helps them transition from work mode to home mode. Take it from Andre Kazimierski, CEO of Improovy.
He says, “Without a clear boundary between work life and home life, it can be difficult not to carry stress and worries from work over into what should be time dedicated to yourself and your family. What’s really worked for me is creating a ritual or routine once I’m off work that helps my brain switch gears. This could be as simple as playing a particular song while driving home, or doing fifteen minutes of yoga or meditation.”
Managing screen time is especially critical for anyone who uses a screen all day at work. To reduce the time you spend on electronic devices at home, try the following tips:
As we mentioned above, it can be more difficult for employees who work from home to disconnect from their job after work hours. When remote employees spend their working hours cozying up on a couch in sweats and a hoodie, they can minimize the difference between their work self and home self, making it harder to separate their home self from their work self.⁴
The key is finding balance in your workspace at home. Act as though you’re going into the office by dressing professionally, sitting at a designated workspace (preferably a table or desk instead of a couch), and working consistent hours. Once you’ve met your hours for the day, turn off your email and text notifications and switch to your at-home self. These habits are critical for both your well-being and your work engagement.⁴
Think of your brain as a muscle that’s constantly being exercised. Good athletes understand that recovery is essential after a workout because it gives the body time to repair, rebuild, and strengthen itself.1
If you struggle with disconnecting from work, think of taking time off as recovery rather than rest. “Recovery” is a more purposeful term that can help remind you of the importance of downtime. Downtime is an essential investment in your health that can benefit your work productivity in the long run.³
If you feel like disconnecting from work is selfish, you should know that taking breaks benefits others too.
Co-workers are almost always observing each other and mimicking what they see. If you answer emails and work on small projects after your scheduled hours, team members may think that’s what it takes to be a good employee and follow your example. If you stop taking vacations, so will they.³
Help your teammates by showing through your example the importance of investing in one’s health. Managers and other leaders should set the expectations and norms for the team and hold discussions about work burnout and how to support mental and emotional health. Team members should consider how relentlessly pushing themselves can negatively affect other co-workers.
Many people feel guilty about disconnecting from work because they stress over the tasks that still need to be completed. Focusing on what you still need to do makes it almost impossible to relax.³
Instead, learn to celebrate your achievements. Think about everything you accomplished during the day and appreciate what you’ve done. Recognizing the work you’ve completed can help you find relief and enjoy your time off instead of stressing about upcoming projects.³
Here are three additional tips for remote and hybrid employees:
Employee health and well-being should be one of the top concerns for every company. In today’s workplace, employees are more likely to leave their jobs if they feel employers are unfair.²
As more employees expect flexible work options, companies will need to adjust to maximize their office space for a hybrid work model. OfficeTogether is a hybrid office management system that helps employees reserve office space and collaborate with teammates. To learn more, click here.