Working from home may seem like a stress-free experience with you in charge of your schedule and zero care for traffic, shopping, or rushing to pick up your kids from school. Well then, there’s that other shoe dropping. According to a survey conducted by Unify Square, stress levels tripled for more than 60% of tech and executive-level employees since the pandemic started. So in this blog post, we’re going to dive into the smart ways to decompress your overly active mind after work.
I am stressed. What do I do?
The truth is that most can feel stress and tension building up – sometimes it can manifest in general franticness, stiff neck, or just pacing around the room. The most challenging thing is to recognize the signs early and take active action to diffuse the situation. Think of it as putting out the fire early to avoid the explosion. However, if you’ve worked all day, feel exhausted, and just want to lay on the couch watching Netflix, this is going to require an extra push. So here’s a list of ways that you can decompress your active mind with little effort:
Disconnect. Phones and screens have become our comfort zone full of instant gratification and zoning out. But as it’s fun to get those likes and messages, we’re prone to feel more stressed when we don’t get them. Not to mention the harm the blue light does to our physical bodies when we’re constantly on screen-time. So do yourself a favor and read a book instead of binging Netflix or checking your DM’s. The internet and your brain could use a break.
Smart tip: If you can’t force yourself to disconnect manually, let apps and devices do it for you. Set a time to lock your devices and turn off the TV automatically.
Set up a relaxing environment. Since the beginning of the pandemic, the home space has become the place for work, fun, relaxation, sadness, etc. As human beings, we don’t realize that we attach specific memories and emotions to things around us. So once a fun and relaxing space in certain circumstances can become the source of negativity and… your guessed it, stress. Take time to set up certain areas of your home for relaxation: a corner for exercise, mediation, or even cooking.
Smart tip: The rule here is to have rules. Even though you really want to lay on your couch with that work laptop, don’t. Keep your work and everything related to it in your office room or a dedicated work space. You can find more tips on how to work remotely in our blog here.
Use smart devices. Technology can indeed be a source of stress, but it can also reduce it without you even knowing it. Eliminate blue light by getting screen protectors or fashionable glasses, get a diffuser for some relaxing aromatherapy. Invest in a white noise machine for easier falling asleep or a meditation headset that will tell what’s happening in your brain when you do it, or find a similar gadget that will help you chill with little effort.
Smart tip: The thing is that you don’t have to get them all or buy anything at all. But if you can, then treat yourself to whatever tickles your fancy. These gadgets actually work and can be easily integrated into your routine. Besides, investing in your wellbeing is always money well spent.
Move. Yoga, exercise, taking a walk, dancing – whatever works for you. Stress is an energy that comes together with lots of emotion and physical reaction. A spike in adrenaline increased levels of cortisol mixed with anger, frustration, anxiety. Guess what? All of it wants out. That’s the reason why executives take time to work out or practice some movement – it’s a release of tension and a healthy stress remedy.
Smart tip: Sign up for a challenge or an online class – it’ll help you be accountable and build good future habits. And if you really can’t decide what to do, look up these posts about exercises to perform at your desk or after work.
Train your mind. During our most stressful moments, it may seem that our thoughts run a mile a minute. But dealing with that is actually a skill you can learn quite quickly. Meditation and breathwork are the main tools used to pause your mind and step away from your thoughts and emotions. Yet, mastering these requires regular practice and dedication. Most masters suggest starting from as little as a few minutes of practice a day and then increase it over time. And if you can spare only those few minutes in the long run – that also works as long as you stick to it.
Smart tip: Sign up for an online class or set up a habit tracker, which will allow you to integrate these practices into your daily life and keep you accountable.
Be productive. Focusing on menial tasks can be a simple yet, incredibly effective way to release tension. People in tech or any other market dominated by logical and analytical thinking often suffer from stress-induced overthinking. To stop this unhealthy behavior, you can try working with your hands instead – be it household chores or something creative, like painting. If it requires focus, go for it.
Smart tip: Make sure to make a schedule of your extracurriculars and stick to it in advance. Set up reminders – because after a long day working, you may not want to scrub the kitchen, but it may do wonders for your busy head.
Keep yourself in check. The smartest way to decompress is actually not having to decompress at all. It sounds fairly impossible, yet, if you manage to find balance, build good habits and teach yourself to notice the first signs of stress, then you may just do it.
Smart tip: The important thing is to realize that every situation is temporary, and our minds or emotions are not the definitions of us. We’re actually in control of them and not the other way around. So, if you want to feel less stress, take charge of your reactions and learn to step away and recharge when it’s needed.