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How do you make your mind let go of work/school when you're specifically trying to decompress?


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Margaret’s Answer

Meditation is an excellent method of letting your mind go and decompress. Personally, I meditate twice a day to start and end my day with a clear and balanced head. Meditation is not about thinking of nothing, but more so observing what you are thinking/feeling, acknowledge that you have that thought but not not thinking any deeper or go into details about your thoughts but simply acknowledging they are there. After observing those thoughts, say to yourself, "ok," breathe, and observe just being. It's hard at first but with practice, meditation can help you decompress anytime, anywhere, within seconds.

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Sloane’s Answer

Hi Kaela, great question! When trying to decompress, I tend to find it working the best for me when it's an activity I really enjoy. For example, I enjoy taking walks with my dog, spending time with friends, or even watching a show on Netflix or TV. I find it especially important to think of activities that you know will distract your mind from stress. I would give advice on paying attention to those activities or hobbies you really enjoy and are able to completely take a step back from your school or work stress with.

It's equally important to make sure you're blocking off that time for yourself to decompress with those activities. Where our society is at now, technology wise, it's easy to access your work or schoolwork at any time and feel like you should be doing something productive at all times. But it's important to keep in mind that your work-life balance should remain a priority. For me, I've found success in doing this by having scheduled time during the day that's devoted to my work or school work, and saving the rest of the time during my day for myself to decompress. Hope this helps!

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Diego’s Answer

If you are working from home, I would recommend having a separate work space that you can leave when you are done with work for the day so that it is easier to mentally separate. I also like going on runs and when I go running, I try to keep my mind as blank as possible, sort of like meditating but while being active. Getting physically tired for me allows me to take a mental break from work.

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Fatima’s Answer

One of the ways I've found helpful to decompress is to go for a walk or get outside and just breathe. Decompressing is a transitory phase, where you're trying to release some tension from a work or school day. If you've been inside a building or house all day, your body needs a different environment to tell it that you're physically changes spaces. Breathing really helps regulate the tensions and walking can also be beneficial because you're likely away from a screen, outside, and you get a chance to practice being more grounded.

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Sindhu’s Answer

Kaela, this is a great question! A few things I've tried that have partially helped me, but I'm still trying to figure this out after over 20 years of working.
1) Meditation: I use an app like Calm or Headspace to try and meditate for 10-15 minutes before bed. When I do this consistently, it is easier for me to decompress and get better quality sleep.
2) Reading/Non-work or school activity: Another thing that helps me is reading, playing a game, or watching a TV show for at least 30 minutes after I wrap up work so I stop thinking about work and my mind is engaged in something else. A show doesn't work as well for me as reading a book or playing a puzzle-type game that requires concentration.
3) Phone notifications: I turn off all phone notifications when I want to decompress. If I see or hear that I have a work email, I feel the need to address it quickly, so turning off visual and sound notifications helps me do that.
4) Maintain a list: Despite trying all of the above, sometimes work ideas and "to dos" pop up frequently. Rather than address them when they do, I put them on a paper "to do" list for the next day. Removes any mental energy spent on trying to remember it for the next day.

Hope that helps. Good luck!

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Trey’s Answer

I learned early on in my college days that you need to schedule your day, and your week, to "take time for yourself". Whatever that time is, it should be dedicated to you and free from work/school distractions. As much as possible, treat that time for yourself as you would for a work engagement or a school class or assignment.

In today's day and age, it's even easier to allow other distractions of the "connected society" to infringe upon your own time. When I used to work in an actual office campus, I found that I had to take my lunch hour off campus to avoid work distractions during "my time". I started finding books to read off campus while I had my lunch - this helped me to find balance.

So, my summary is to schedule the time for yourself, hold that as "non-negotiable" as much as possible, and un-plug from connected devices during that time.

Another tip is to turn off pop-up notifications on your phone and computer for email messages, IM's, etc. Learn to schedule your work and school time to check those communications during your day on a regularly scheduled basis.

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Gina’s Answer

i think it's important to find activities you enjoy and make time for those. I am generally an anxious person-- so I love to work out. I find comfort in releasing the extra energy and getting a different mindset. Yoga has been a game changer for me. Surrounding myself with the positivity of the instructors has sincerely been life changing and gives me an extra boost/recharge.

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Cameron’s Answer

This happens to me all the time when I'm trying to fall asleep. Something that I found to work is to just get up and write down a list of all the things running through my mind. That way I can get everything out of my head and I'm not anxious that I'll forget something the next day.

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Lisa’s Answer

Hi Kaela,

The best way I have found to decompress at the end of day, is to separate myself from my work.

I have worked from home for almost 10 years now. And the first thing I did, when sent home to work, was to make a room in the house a deliciated work zone. I seldom or never step into the room until I have to be at work. Even for breakfast and lunch, I go to another room of the house. Yes, literally out of site, out of mind! This allows me to know when I am working, I am working. And when I am playing, relaxing, or spending time with family, it is never in the area I work.

If you have the space, make that area work or school zone only. Even if it means you turn a small closet, into a small off space, by putting in a table with your school and work equipment and a chair. You will find, when you close that door or walk out of that room/area at end of day, your entire outlook changes. Because you know, you just left work or school behind, and you can do something fun, not so serious, and just for you.

Lisa

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Will’s Answer

Hi Kaela,

One thing that helped me was having a "work thought journal". I used this to get thoughts about work out of my head and on to paper. It was a way to let out thoughts, and the have the bonus of being a resource for remembering your thoughts when you return to work.

I have specifically used this when laying in bed when work is keeping me up at night.

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Krasti’s Answer

Hi Kaela,
There are a lot of great tips already mentioned here. I would emphasize on a few that I found very helpful myself. When I am trying to decompress, I usually do one of the following:

1. practice mindfulness, especially meditation - this is actually really challenging if you are a beginner. But the long term benefits are amazing and you can gain a peaceful mind if you commit to it

2. do an activity that you enjoy and gets you in your flow state - for me, that's exercise. Whenever I am exercise, I don't think about anything else besides trying to push myself physically to achieving my fitness goals. It is an activity that makes me think of the "present time" rather than think about the past or future deadlines. for you, it could be painting, cooking, etc.

3. keep a gratitude journal and jot down 3 things you are grateful for each day - this may sound silly but it is a good exercise to practice because it forces you to take a step back and think about what you appreciate in life. It forces your mind to be positive and you may start to realize that the things that were stressing you out initially were not worth stressing about.

Good luck and stay positive!

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Caroline’s Answer

I try to make time for myself by doing things I enjoy outside of work such as running, reading, exercising, hanging with friends and I turn off my work phone/notifications when I am participating in those things. It is easier said than done especially in times when work gets super busy. If you are anxious about something at work I also think it is helpful to talk to someone either a coworker who you have more of a friendly relationship with or with a friend or family member who is not familiar with your work. Sometimes when explaining what you are getting anxious about to other people you realize that it is something that is silly to be anxious over.

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Kevin’s Answer

I tend to take a long job or run out in the open trails to decompress from work. Sometimes if it has been a stressful work day, I add high intensity running sprints for 3-5 minutes and then alternate back to a moderate jog for the same time. Running is an acquired taste and is a great stress reliever. I hated running before but set your goal for half a mile and move your way up to 1, 3, 5 mile goals.

You can also find other sports, fitness routines, or even hobby to decompress.

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Robert’s Answer

There is no one right way to decompress. I've found that separating work/school from your personal life to be one of the hardest tasks I have tried since making my way into the workforce. What is your passion or hobby? What is your safe place? Where do you find serenity? We are all different and find peace in different ways or places. For me, reading a good book transports me from the world I live in. I'll never forget my first time reading a good novel. I was a teenager sitting on a bean bag in my room with a lamp on just above my head. I started reading around 8p because we had just finished dinner. In a split second I finished the book and it was morning. I don't remember turning the pages; i don't remember my parents coming in to say goodnight; i don't remember my alarm going off. For those few hours, I was in Hogwarts learning Witchcraft and Wizardry and battling evil and making friends.

I find solace and my escape in books. What about you?

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Suyash’s Answer

This is a great question!

I'm going to talk about my personal experience - what helps me!
Having a work life balance is really important. Although its not really a work life balance if your work/study is bothering you during your personal time as well.
This generally comes from being worried about something at work/study. It is really important that one should do something that he/she is really passionate about. This really helps distract you from your original thoughts. Often times, trying to do something creative helps.
A few times I have called up my friends or my family and asked them if they need help with something. Most of the times, they do have something that they need help with. You start helping them and realize that you have spent alot of time helping others. This makes you feel like you have accomplished something.
Meditation is another way of destressing.
Let me know if you'd like to hear more on any of the above points.

Suyash recommends the following next steps:

Pick up a creative project
Take time to pursue some passion
Help others with their projects

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Sacoyah’s Answer

All the responses here are great ways to decompress and rid out the stress of work/school. But one thing to remember is there is not a one sizes fits all method. Going for a walk, cooking, swimming, reading a book or just simply dancing around your room can help. Be sure to find an fun yet safe activity that you enjoy that can allow you to escape in a way.

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Trey’s Answer

I learned early on in my college days that you need to schedule your day, and your week, to "take time for yourself". Whatever that time is, it should be dedicated to you and free from work/school distractions. As much as possible, treat that time for yourself as you would for a work engagement or a school class or assignment.

In today's day and age, it's even easier to allow other distractions of the "connected society" to infringe upon your own time. When I used to work in an actual office campus, I found that I had to take my lunch hour off campus to avoid work distractions during "my time". I started finding books to read off campus while I had my lunch - this helped me to find balance.

So, my summary is to schedule the time for yourself, hold that as "non-negotiable" as much as possible, and un-plug from connected devices during that time.

Another tip is to turn off pop-up notifications on your phone and computer for email messages, IM's, etc. Learn to schedule your work and school time to check those communications during your day on a regularly scheduled basis.

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Emily’s Answer

Try to find an activity you may enjoy. The activity can be reading, drawing, cooking, watching a movie or show, listening to music, journaling, or as mentioned going on a walk or exercising. When you keep your mind occupied with a stimulating activity or activities, it becomes easier to make your mind let go of work or school.



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Sheila’s Answer

Hello Kaela: This is a great question and you've received some very good responses. I'll keep it simple for you from my viewpoint.

One way I decompress is by window shopping/browsing online at Amazon (I love to (window) shop). In my household there's always someone ordering products on the site just to keep from physically going into a store.

Another way I decompress is by watching TV shows that I like. I'm a big fan of TCM (Turner Classic Movies). Anything Vincent Price & Bette Davis I could watch forever; in addition to monster, suspense, disaster, drama and scary movies on TCM.

I'm sure you'll eventually find what works for you when decompressing and clearing your mind. Think outside of the box. It doesn't have to be structured and complicated. Just find what you are passionate about and do it.

Best of luck to you!

~ Sheila

Sheila recommends the following next steps:

Try window/browsing shopping (you don't have to buy anything). It's literally a distraction
Tune into your favorite TV shows
Think outside of the box and find what you are passionate about and do it

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Ryan’s Answer

Hi Kaela
I am by nature a very anxious person, so I have a lot of trouble letting go and decompressing at the end of the day. As you might expect, this just make my anxiety even worse. The challenge is what works for you. All of the suggestions provided are fantastic. Personally, the key to chilling out that the end of a long day is detaching form work completely. Don't have work email on your phone, turn off the ringer on your phone (if necessary). I have found that especially difficult in 2020 as I have been working from home since March. But everyday, I step away and remember tomorrow is another day.

This I do after work to decompress? I like to go for walks, I didn't but once I started i have found that it makes my day. That being said, try new things because you never know. I also love reality tv (don't judge) mainly because it is not my world and it creates great separation.

Ryan

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Nathan’s Answer

This is a great question that I think a lot of people struggle with! I love nature, so I find things like hiking, road biking and fishing to be great activities to decompress, but I think it's also important to identify when to relax and watch a movie as well! As long as you have a healthy balance of activity, there's nothing wrong with a day to do nothing.

Set a time that you finish with work (As much as your able in the context of your role) and shut the computer down at that time. Anything that comes in can wait for tomorrow, and its a good skill to be able to compartmentalize it rather than feeling the need to tackle it at that time.

Overall, its really important to know what works for you. What hobbies/activities make you engaged and happy. I generally try to take the approach of find and do the things you enjoy, and simultaneously learn to compartmentalize work/school stress and I find the stress fading more and more over time!

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Eddy’s Answer

One of the most important things for me personally is to get a change of scenery. If you've spent all day locked inside due to school/uni/office jobs, go outside. Take a walk, ideally somewhere where there is nature around. If you've spent all day outside, take a breather indoors, do some meditation excercises or do something you're passionate about indoors (that dish you always wanted to cook, that song you always wanted to learn how to play, etc.).
Acknowledge that you're stressed about work/uni/school to yourself and actively identify the things that make you forget about those worries. It is crucial that you do not let negativity take a hold of you. Try not to complain to your peers about your perceived levels of stress and don't engage in conversations that you just give you what you want to hear. Instead, focus on a positive mindset and solutions that will help you decompress, seek out solution-oriented conversations that help will you manage your stress more effectively in the future.

Eddy recommends the following next steps:

Engage in outside physical activity
Try medition (I can personally recommend the app Headspace)
Work on hobbies and skills that you are passionate about
Get a change of scenery

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