My boyfriend Carl gave me the idea for this blog post after the 85th Friday night in a row when he said, “I really hope I can switch off tonight and sleep”. When he knows he’s got a busy day at work on Saturday, it’s rare that he’s able to switch off on the Friday night and get a high quality sleep. And I’m 99.9% sure that he’s not the only who struggles with how to switch off and relax. Although most of us haven’t been at work lately due to COVID-19, it’s still important to switch off and relax.
For me, sleeping is rarely the issue. Despite having woken up multiple times every night for YEARS due to a variety of problems such as an uncomfortable mattress (when I say uncomfortable, what I really mean is, the springs were sticking out and poking me in the back), but switching off from work, from my to-do list and from my active monkey mind… boy oh boy…
It’s not as easy as it sounds.
I’ve always had a problem with productivity. Always wanting to be on the go 24/7, always trying to ACHIEVE something and never wanting to do anything that didn’t seem productive to me. It’s something I’ve been working on a LOT over the last few years and the art of switching off and doing something unproductive has become more and more relevant and important to me.
I even tweeted this a little while ago and enough people seemed to agree with me.
How to relax and switch off is something I’ve worked tirelessly at trying to achieve. Of course it’s never going to be a case of reaching a certain goal or destination but instead finding the tools and strategies that work for you and actively trying to avoid anything that doesn’t serve you.
So whether you’re desperate to try and switch off from work, a personal problem that’s taking up far too much of your mind or you’re just trying to learn how to relax more, here are some ways I’ve learnt how to switch off and relax:
Find something you bloody love
That ISN’T related to work or the thing you’re trying to switch off from. Don’t kid yourself with this one. If you’re a full-time blogger like me and you try and convince yourself that you’re “switching off” by writing a blog post – you’re not. Sorry. Despite the fact that you might LOVE what you do, it’s almost crucial to find yourself something that you love, which is unrelated to work, which will help you switch off. For me, that’s something like:
- Playing a video game
- Watching a TV series that I absolutely love and can get totally engrossed in
- Reading a fiction book that’ll whisk me away
Let go of the mindset that every second of your life has to be productive
This is THE ONE. The thing I’ve struggle and struggled and struggled with. This notion that everything you do has to be actively productive. Every action has to be working towards a goal. Since when did we all become so obsessed with proving that we’re so busy, all the damn time? Shifting this mindset is tough but once you do, you’ll feel so free. And remember…
…that self care is not just productive – but vital
Self care and relaxation IS productive in the way that it’s allowing you to regenerate, regroup and reset. Remember, we only have enough energy for one day at a time. At some point, your body and your mind is going to be screaming at you to stop and relax, to take care of it, to take care of YOU. I see it a lot in the blogging world, people almost boasting about getting no sleep and working all night. It’s not just unnecessary – it’s sad. Sad that we live in a world where people feel like they need to do that in order to succeed.
Ditch the phone
Setting screen time limits has really helped me in how to switch off and relax over the last year. Having those limits on deters me from checking Twitter or my emails past a certain time in the evening but also, the lack of phone use later on at night will also help your sleep due to the blue light from your phone not passing through your eyes – yay!
If it’s your mind that’s on overdrive and not allowing you to switch off and relax then journaling could play a really pivotal role in your well-being. Allowing yourself 10 minutes to write down everything that’s going on, how you’re feeling, what you’re thinking, will help get those thoughts out of your head and down on paper. Leaving you with a little extra room to chillax.
Write your to-do list for tomorrow
Sometimes, what stops me relaxing is thinking about all the stuff I need to do tomorrow. So to combat that, I simply make sure my to-do list for tomorrow is written as soon as I finish working that day. Work is still fresh in my mind, so I know exactly what I’m going to need to work on the following day. And that really helps me leave work in the notes on my phone and be able to switch off and enjoy my evening.
Have a bedtime routine
This point can be totally tailored to you – which is great. You can literally curate your own relaxing bedtime routine that will help with switch off and unwind for the day. The good thing about a bedtime routine is that once you get into a habit and make it a regular thing, your body recognizes it and is like, “oh hey! I’d better start winding down for the day!” Maybe introduce some gentle Yoga, a skincare routine or read your book for half an hour before bed.
And finally, meditation can have such profound benefits on your mental well-being. Finding the time to meditate for just 10 minutes each night will help calm your mind and your racing thoughts and although it won’t stop them coming completely, it’ll at least give you the chance to work through it. I think you can learn so much about yourself from meditation so you never know – give it a go!
Inadequate psychological and physical recovery after a long day can lead to health problems. So it’s vital that you find a method of switching off and relaxing that works for you. Of course there are so many factors which affect it, such as technology (which is eVERYWHERE) but we can only do our best, right?