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.

how 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 lower back pain 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.

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 and prevents you from knowing how to switch off mentally.

And its important to remember that rest doesn’t always mean sleep. Rest is VITAL for us as humans but that also means resting our bodies, minds and spirit on a daily basis in order to function properly. Rest could mean a meditation session or a restorative Yoga practice. Not always getting into bed and drifting off. You might even want to invest in spinner rings to help ease an anxious mind.

So whether you’re struggling to 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:

how to switch off and relax

Find something to do that 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. How to mentally switch off from work. 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.

Want some more self care content? Check out these posts:

how to switch off and relax

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 social media 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!

Journal

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. You can use journal prompts if you’re struggling to get started.

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.

Need some book recommendations? Check out these posts!

Meditate

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?

How do you relax and switch off for the day? Do you do any of the things mentioned here? Do you have trouble switching off and relaxing?

129 Comments

  1. I love this so much!! I teach the at risk preschool students in a small town and my blog has NOTHING to do with teaching. It’s my happy place to switch off. So nice to read about this as self care. I have never thought of it that way but it definitely is.💗

  2. These are great tips! I struggle shutting off EVERY single night since high school, I tried about everything. But it’s getting better now with a night routine and some natural melatonin. My night routine includes journaling, writing to do list for tomorrow, filling my diffuser with lavender oils, and then reading a chapter or two till I can’t keep my eyes open.

  3. It’s like you’ve just described my perfect evening. Nothing calms me down like a good evening (skincare) routine, then some meditation afterwards, and maybe a good cup of tea. However, I struggle a lot with the need to be feeling productive and useful all the time. That’s especially a problem during the day.

  4. I loved reading this post Jenny! I’m somebody who does sometimes struggle to switch and relax, especially when I’m in productive mode. Focusing on something you love is definitely key or even a spot of meditation can really help me to relax after a long day x

    Lucy | http://www.lucymary.co.uk

      1. Pokémon Diamond isn’t challenging at all and it’s repetitive and grindy AF, but it brings back old school gameboy advance vibes (never had one but I imagine it to be like this). Also, if gives me Legend of Heroes (PSP game) and some weird Zelda’s Awakening feels. Although I couldn’t get into Zelda’s Awakening because I don’t know the plot.

  5. Brilliant advice! I love that you included that not everything in your life has to be productive. I definitely needed to hear that, as I feel that in my breaks I should be working on something else. Painting is currently my favourite hobby – just little flowers rather than a big picture!

  6. I’ve been dealing with this very problem recently! I find guided meditations and Journaling help me a lot, but I think I’ve also got to prioritize alone time and creative pursuits that don’t have to make me money.
    Its a process, but I am on my way!

  7. Absolutely agree with all of this Jenny! I’ve struggled with sleep for a long time and you’ve mentioned a lot of tips that have been really valuable for me – particularly having an evening routine. Now when I do it, I can almost feel my mind slowing down as it realises it’s time to switch off. It’s so peaceful – and meditation has basically changed my life haha! x

  8. I can’t remember when I last slept through the night, or didn’t have trouble getting to sleep! A good mattress definitely helps and I’m going to give that pillow mist a try too. Thanks for the tips Jenny.

  9. I am a workaholic, I decided to stop because I said I would comment blogs BUT if I did not give my word, you would have find me working again !

    Why it’s not the same for sport ? I mean, the more I do it, the more I can’t stop and continue it ?
    oooh laid back people, how much I envy you… Jenny, thanks to your article, pillow mist will be the first thing i’ll buy.
    Also a shower or bath helps, you can’t have your phone, worry about work if you need to think about how great you are going to look after this face mask 😉

  10. I’ve always struggled with insomnia and I think it’s just because I have an overactive brain at this point. I tried reading before bed to help me switch off and get me offline. That resulted in my brain being totally wired and thinking of potential plot twists as I was jumping into bed. At least it helps me switch off from my day and the real world for a while even if it doesn’t help me sleep! x

    Sophie

  11. Great post, something that I definitely needed to read at the moment! The point of telling yourself that you don’t need to be productive all the time is so important, I often get so annoyed with myself if I’m just sat on my switch or just lying on the sofa watching Netflix because I feel like I’m just wasting my day but it is super important to do things that help you relax and switch off. At the moment as I’m working from home its been difficult as I end up switching off my work laptop at the end of the day and as I don’t have to travel home I just feel like I’m constantly working! Hope you’re well 🙂

    Chloe xx
    http://www.chloechats.com

  12. All great ideas! I’ve been heavily into meditating and sticking to a relaxing nighttime routine.

  13. I think we’re quite similar with the whole productivity thing – it’s like I crave completing productive tasks and if I don’t do that then I feel useless. I’ve found that adding self-care activities to my to do list really helps with that as then I still get the boost from ticking it off a list. I love the idea of doing your to do list the night before – that definitely helps!

    1. YES! I totally feel that way as well! I add self care activities to my to-do list. I add EVERYTHING to my to-do list so even when I’m doing a “relaxing” activity, I still feel like I’m being productive. Which I realise probably isn’t the healthiest approach x

  14. Bedtime routines, reading, journalling, and colouring are some of my favourite ways to “turn off” my mind!! I love your suggestion ditching the phone; I’ve been doing that for awhile, and it’s been such a wonderful change of pace xx

  15. Fab post! I’m the same and struggle to switch off and relax but I find that putting my phone away before bed and reading a book instead has helped me immensely! x

  16. These are really good ideas! I always try and put my phone to the side an hour before bed and just read for an hour – sometimes I succeed and it’s great because I fall asleep straight away and feel totally relaxed, but sometimes I’m pretty much glued to my phone (oops)! I do think it’s really good to have a bed time routine. Like even though I’m working from home at the moment, I’m still going to bed at the same time and waking up at the same time as well, that definitely helps me. Thanks for sharing x

  17. I don’t think I’ve ever been able to switch off and truly relaxed! I’ve done things to distract me like watching things on Youtube or listening to easy music, but I may have to give some of these a go! You can’t go wrong with planning in advance!

    Daisy xoxo |

  18. Such great advice! I love reading before bed to switch off from screen time but have got out of the habit recently. I also love doing yoga after work to properly relax xx

  19. Love this blog post, in fact I’ve recently written about my relationship with bed / my sleep routine on my blog too. I can either fall asleep at the drop of a hat, or I find it really difficult and require an eye mask and earplugs. My best nights sleep are always after a long 12 hour shift at work however, there’s really nothing like it.

    Kate | thelittlecrunch.co.uk

    1. I loved your blog post about your bed! Could really relate. I can often fall asleep pretty easily. The only reason why I won’t be able to sleep is if I know my partner can’t sleep. Weird!

  20. I’ve started doing yoga again and it’s making me so happy! It’s keeping me away from my phone which I am very grateful for.

    Al x

  21. Since becoming furlough, I’ve had this serious need to stay productive and do the most with this time but what others keep telling me is that I need to relax, so this post has come at a really good time! I’ve just invested in some journaling stuff, so I’m looking forward to doing that and focusing on myself more!

    Jessica & James | http://www.foodandbaker.co.uk

  22. I’m so guilty of using partial work tasks as a switch off tactic from work. It’s weird. Sometimes, I feel like even though I’m not blogging, I should still do something blogging related but lightweight like jotting down random ideas. I’m getting better at allowing myself a REAL break by going on walks, dancing, listening to music or even cooking and it’s a nice way to let my mind escape. You’re so right about meditation. I’ve been practicing mindfulness and it makes a huge difference in the way I see some things. I see how a break is valuable. Nice post!

    Natonya | https://JustNatonya.wordpress.com

  23. I deal with insomnia on and off. I’m pretty miserable right now as far as being tired. I’m really going to work on my nighttime routine i desperately need sleep.

  24. I totally agree with these. I’m currently watching Agent Carter and that helps me switch off – when I put my phone down!! I can’t meditate before bed though, I always fall asleep 🙈

  25. Hmm. I’m lying in bed on my phone suddenly deciding that I want to get blogging again, have way too much to catch up on. I also spent the evening reading because I want to get some reviews written. I definitely needed this post as a reminder that it’s okay to do stuff for no other reason than it’s fun and to actually now and again not do anything. Great post!

  26. Relaxation is a wonderful way to wind down to sleep, and I love that you demonstrate relaxation does not just come through doing nothing. I love writing, reading poetry, or listening to music. 🙂

  27. Good ideas! I read, watch nba basketball videos and read sports articles to keep myself entertained. I recommend this list to everyone who’s reading this blog post.

  28. Great list. I especially like the point about self-care being vital. So often I hear people say that self-care feels like they’re being lazy, when in fact it’s what helps keep us going!

    1. It definitely feels like being lazy for me sometimes, as someone who likes to be on the go all the time. You’ve just got to keep reminding yourself over and over again that it’s a vital part of your well-being!

  29. I will have to take some of these things and try to incorporate them. I do find that it’s pretty hard for me as well.

  30. Love this post, Jenny! Learning to relax can be a tough one for me too. I love what you said about feeling like you must be productive at all times. For years, I felt unbelievably guilty if i just did something for the heck of it, because I loved it! I’m with you: When did this become the accepted normal? It’s sad and infuriating. We were never designed for this go go go mentality.

    The sleep pillow mist is awesome, by the way! I’ve not tried the brand you’re holding but have one of my own. They really do work to help relax the mind and melt some stresses away. Aromatherapy is powerful!

    Journaling and writing the to-do list for the next day are also some of my favorites. Anything we can do to release in writing what’s on our minds is amazingly helpful. Writing is therapeutic.

    Awesome tips, Jenny. Thanks for sharing this post. I’ve shared it with others on Pinterest and Twitter. Many blessings to you! ♥

  31. I completely agree with the idea of letting go of the idea that every single second of your life has to be productive. This is something I’m really trying to work towards and feel less guilty about. Great list!

  32. Love this post – it’s harder to switch off when you’re at home constantly for sure! I have been watching an episode of Waterloo road most nights before bed as a way to wind down. It’s been helping me.

    Jazmin x

  33. I have such a hard time turning my brain off. These are great ideas. Keep up the good work.

  34. Oh, I identify sooooo much with the point about not everything having to be productive. I feel super guilty if I’m not doing something all the time. In many ways, lockdown hasn’t changed that much for me as I’m a remote worker anyway, but having Flora around all the time as well as Alan means I’m getting rattier by the day – time to schedule in some PRIVATE self-care, methinks. Fab tips, Jenny, thank you xxx

    Lisa | http://www.lisasnotebook.com

  35. These are such brilliant tips Jenny! Writing tomorrow’s to-do list after you finishing working is such a great idea and means you can enjoy the evening knowing you are organised & prepared for the next day. I’ve recently added meditation to my bedtime routine and it’s really been helping with sleep. Thank you for sharing, fab post and lovely photos too! <3 xxx

    Bexa | http://www.hellobexa.com

  36. Great tips and suggestions to find the best sleep routine. What I enjoy most doing is exercise. Exercise has always been my stress reliever. That’s the key for me. Relieving stress improves sleep. Find what helps you be stress-free!

  37. Great suggestions! I have yet to try her happy place products! I hope Carl managed to switch off and get some sleep, I know all too well how it feels to lie awake for hours.

  38. Some things I really need to take on board! Definitely need to start putting the phone down more. I find I reach for it between my sons naps and before I go to bed too!

    Jess

  39. Great advice, Jenny! Since the COVID-19 outbreak, my sleep hygiene is out of control. I’m up at 2AM watching TV. I used to go to bed at 9PM when I had a schedule. I used to wake up at 5AM when things were normal. Now? I sleep in until 11:30AM and wake up super groggy. And yet, my brain can’t seem to switch off…. I much rather wake up at 5AM and get a good night’s sleep vs. whatever this is. I don’t like to blame things, but I blame coronavirus.

      1. Hey Jenny! I had the best intention to wake up at 8AM this morning. My alarm went off at 8AM and I woke up. 5 minutes later my bed looked very inviting so I decided to rest until 9AM. Except this time, the alarm did not go off and I woke up at 10:30AM! At that point, I’m feeling super groggy so I slept in until 12:30…. and that was my morning. I also napped for 4 hours yesterday evening #so-productive 😴

      2. Idk what it is but I can feel it in the air. This energy-sucking aura just takes over my body to the point where I can’t focus on anything and need to sleep it all away. #quarantine #sleepytime

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