Emotional Wellbeing

Mandy Kloppers

8 ways to switch off work without feeling guilty

The 21st century has given us many technological advancements which make our every day easier. We rely on these during our workday as well as during our free time.  

On one hand, it has given us the opportunity to do our daily tasks remotely. The only thing we need is a steady internet connection and a stable computer and our work day can start.  

On the other hand, it became difficult to switch off from work as we are always connected. The fact that people can be reached at any time no matter where they are leads to burnout and it affects our health. 


Taking a break is of utmost importance for our wellbeing, overall satisfaction, happiness and our mental health. We need to establish the exact moment when we switch off after our work day ends. Switching off often evokes the feeling of guilt because we think that we have to be present and dedicated to our work 24/7. Being connected all the time is one of the main causes of workplace related stress. We cannot put work aside even during our free time as we feel guilty when we put the work aside. 


Workplace related stress leads to the loss of productivity and increase in anxiety which ends in burnout. In order to avoid the consequences of burnout, we have to put this guilt aside and learn how to let go at the end of the workday. 


In order to switch off work successfully and devote time to stress reducing activities, start by:

…doing one small task at the end of the workday 

The goal is to finish the day with one accomplishment. This might be a phone call you postponed the entire day. You can also answer that email you said you will do tomorrow. You can also make a to-do list for tomorrow. A clear and concise to do list will increase work performance and result in less stress at the beginning of a new workday. It is all about the small wins which will improve your mood and trigger the sense of accomplishment. 

Turn off email synchronisation on your phone 

If you are one of those people who answer work emails after regular work hours, then you have to stop. Those late-night emails from your boss or your clients can affect your mood, boost your stress levels and reduce your valuable free time. The line between work-life and home-life does not have to be blurry all the time. First step towards clear line between work and personal life starts when you set your email to not disturb schedule. There are many apps which can be set to turn off email synchronisation on your phone and start the do not disturb regime. These apps turn off email synchronisation in a set period of time and enable you to silence work emails when you’re off the clock. Once the time limit ends, let’s say at 7am you will be notified of any emails that were sent to you after your regular work hours. This practice will put an end to stress-inducing work emails during your free time. 


Create a buffer zone 

If you really want to stop thinking about work after work, you need to establish a so called buffer zone. Once you enter this zone (it can be at the last bus stop on your way home) you stop thinking about work, upcoming tasks, workload and everything work related. Your personal time has officially started and it is time to think about the things you plan on doing once you get home. 


Exercise at least three times a week 

After the clock strikes five and you get home after a long day at work, it is time to make your health a priority.  The best way to look after your health is to schedule some regular self-care activities. It has been reported that exercise is a beneficial stress busting activity. During exercise our body produces endorphins, the so called feel good hormones. Endorphins trigger a positive feeling in the body which helps reduce stress and anxiety. Physical exercise is also beneficial to your productivity levels. 


If you want to enhance your productivity, start by working out after work regularly. You can mix things up a bit by going on evening strolls with your family members. Brisk walking will improve your digestion, metabolic rate, blood circulation, help weight loss and provides better sleep. 

Another easy and fun after work activity is cycling around the neighbourhood. Cycling is a fun and affordable activity everyone enjoys. It burns as many calories as jogging while not being a burden to the joints.  


Once again, cycling is an activity that improves your fitness, boost your positive mental attitude and helps you unwind after a long day. It is a form of natural meditation as the rhythm of repetitive pedalling will help you block out factors that bring on anxiety. In order to reap the benefits of cycling, start right now, just pick the most interesting routine, put on some quality cycling shoes, a helmet and a bottle of water and experience bursts of bliss and happiness. 

Don’t ignore the benefits of meditation 

Meditation is a useful technique to master as it helps reduce stress and anxiety. It can be a part of your evening routine and help you fight the remains of the work day that still linger on. Set up a cosy corner for yourself, close your eyes and inhale the air through the nose, and exhale through your mouth. Repeat this breathing technique for at least 15 minutes to let go of pressing thoughts and anxiety. Meditation is one of the most effective stress management tools and it can be done during your work breaks, on your commute (just close your eyes and breathe) or before your bedtime  routine. It will definitely help you switch off from work and help reduce any feelings of guilt or anxiety. 

Have friends over 

Socialising has to be on your list of after work activities. The best way to not think about work is to surround yourself with people you love. Set a few dates during each week for certain activities with your loved ones. Mondays can be a movie night, Wednesdays can be for dinner get togethers while Fridays are ideal for drinks with friends. Meeting with friends and talking to them will help you leave your work dynamics behind. 

Meal Prep 

Your diet matters, too. Working long hours can strain you and leave you feeling sluggish and without any concentration. That is why the best way to ensure a healthy week in the office is to prepare your lunch in advance. Nutritiously rich meals are the main source of energy and people should commit to healthier eating.  

Productivity is directly influenced by the amount of energy and proper nutrition is the main source of good energy. Make sure your meals are rich in protein, healthy fats and carbohydrates. So, dedicate an hour every evening on meal prep and choose to keep your health and work life balanced. 

Put your sleep first 

The culture of busy we live in sacrifices sleep due to the fear of missing out. Sleep should always be a priority as the effects of sleep deprivation are severe.  Busy professionals are often under a lot of pressure and have trouble sleeping or even choose to sacrifice their sleep in order to achieve more in a single day. 


Lack of sleep affect your productivity, effectiveness at work, alertness, judgement and the list goes on. The feeling of tiredness can be the cause of poor decisions and affect the entire decision making process; it is also the reason why people are on edge, can’t seem to control their emotions and behaviour, and coping with change. 


So, having a healthy bedtime routine can only improve the quality of your sleep and make your more alert and successful during your workday. First of all, it is advised to stop using your phone at least one hour before going to sleep. The screen of our phone emits the blue light which postpones the release of sleep-inducing melatonin, increases alertness, and resets the body’s internal clock (or circadian rhythm) to a later schedule. According to the National Sleep Foundation, it is recommended that adults spend 7-9 hours on sleeping every night. 

Getting the proper amount of zzz’s will positively affect your mood, energy and health. It is of the ame importance like everything else we’ve mentioned before this last point. 

Developing a healthy balance between work and life will remove the guilt because we will learn how to prioritise work during work hours and life after our work day ends. As much as our work gives us purpose, having a stress reducing routines after work only improves the quality of our life in general.  


Image source