How to manage your stress through efficient recovery and relaxation off-work?

May 19, 2020

How can you improve your mental recovery and ensure relaxation after your more and more demanding workdays? There are several ways we all can recover, rest, and relax both during and especially after work. I will outline for you a few proven tips that you can try in your daily life to help yourself with mental wellbeing at work.

We all have experienced work getting more demanding and stressful. I am sure that many of us are also struggling to find the balance between job demands and our personal resources. Not to mention the work-life balance. Occasionally crises like COVID19 remind us of the impact of imbalance on our mental well-being. How to find the calmness in the rough and windy seas?

What are the ways to survive and improve the human experience in the office jungle? Recovery and breaks during the workday are the starting point for relieving your stress. If you want to read more about stress, you can first read our guide on stress and stress management. However, it is not enough to rest and recover during the workday. We all need to rest and mentally recover in the evening and weekends. 

There are several ways to relax and recover off-work. One of the key things is to find the most suitable way for you to mentally detach from your work. Mental detachment means disconnecting from job-related thoughts and behaviors. It gives room for relaxation and mental recovery. Relaxation is characterized by low activity levels and calmness. Below you can find scientifically proven recommendations for you to try in your personal life. Or discuss these suggestions with your team and colleagues.  

Find your favorite place for after-work relaxation

What is your favorite place at home or in the surroundings? Find your personal relaxation spot. It can be your terrace, hammock, library, museum, or the close-by forest or park. The best way to relax is to head to your favorite spot after work or dinner. You can also find your favorite place close by your office or lunch place. This is a hack you can use also during the workday if you feel stressed out. In some cases, it might be enough to imagine or looking at the pictures of your favorite place. If only possible, head to your favorite place to gain the biggest impact.

Try mindfulness to detach from work

Some of us are better at detaching than others. If you face challenges in detaching, have you tried mindfulness? Mindfulness is an often misunderstood way to detach from work and relieve your stress levels. It has an impact directly on your stress levels and the nervous system. It is one of the most impactful ways to detach from work already when you are commuting to home, stuck in the traffic, having a walk, visiting your favorite spot, or doing your groceries.

When commuting on your way back home try being mindful. Become aware of your senses or surroundings instead of worrying about work and kids you just picked up from the kindergarten. Mindfulness practice made in the morning helps to be present during the workday and to reattach to work. Practicing mindfulness on your way home also helps to detach mentally from work which is a key factor for your recovery. It works both ways. 

It should be simple. Close your eyes or sit down and breathe calmly in and out. Becoming mindful is possible anytime and anywhere. You just need to become aware of what you are doing and where you are.

Master new skills at home or in a hobby

One way to support your relaxation or detachment from work is to start practicing a new skill or start new projects at home or a new hobby. What are your interests or hobbies that give you pleasure and joy? If you don’t yet know your favorite one, give new hobbies a try and find the most suitable one for you. 

It could be renovating, sports, music, painting your living room or cooking. There are as many ways as there are chefs. Cooking feels mentally rewarding for me personally. Why is this important for all of us? Learning new skills or starting new projects offers learning opportunities after your workday. When you experience the feeling of mastery of these new skills it has a positive impact on your mental recovery. You need some mental capacity to learn new skills but the net impact is still positive.

Doing some charity or volunteer work is also very impactful. Although you might feel stressed or exhausted at work, doing some volunteer work may be the hack to find new energy. This can feel counterintuitive. Volunteering and charity work has been scientifically proven to have an impact on your mental health and happiness

What is the impact of after-work recovery and relaxation on your well-being?

Mental recovery is needed to sustain your energy in a hectic and stressful work environment. If you push yourself over the limit, your creativity and productivity will suffer. And if you continue working and pushing yourself over the edge, you will burn out at some point. Because our workdays are often not planned to include moments of recovery,  off-work recovery and rest are of utmost importance.

Free time leisure activities (social relationships with friends and family, low-effort activities, and physical activities) increase your energy and resilience already the next morning. This happens through enhanced mental detachment and relaxation. Find the best way for you! As long as we can choose and spend time on stress-free events and social relationships we love, leisure activities are good for our next day’s and week’s mental well-being at work.

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