Creating habits to help leave work behind

Many of us struggle with a constant state of “take your work home” syndrome. When our brains can’t stop to relax, our quality of life pays the price. That’s when it’s time to create some good habits, allowing you to take a mental break from work. Here are seven tips to help you let go and ease into the weekend:

  1. Try to complete the to-do list on Friday

If you leave work Friday mulling over a phone call you missed, an email you forgot to send or the mess on your desk, it’s hard to change gears. Before you leave the office, take stock: is there anything you could take an extra ten minutes to resolve? Sometimes clearing up small matters can give serious mental relief, allowing your mind to truly walk away.

  1. Create a mind changing habit

If you have a job that simply isn’t ever going to be tidied-up for the weekend, try a set ritual. Every Friday evening, take ten minutes to meditate. Bring your breath and mind back into your body. Remember, meditation actually rewires your brain, so this time is well-spent as a tool to change your weekend vibe.

You could also use a positive intention along with a meditation, for an even more powerful impact on your mood. Positive intentions create actual changes in your brain, similar to meditation, which reinforce your goals. An affirmation such as, “I am relaxed and fully enjoying my weekend,” said for five minutes, three times a day, can make an impact.

  1. Choose a signal

A signal to yourself that your work week is over and it’s time to relax can be something fun. Maybe you bang a gong hanging in your hallway when you arrive home for the weekend. Take off your work clothes and put on your favorite old cotton PJ’s. Even talking to the same street vendor every Friday after work signals to your brain that you’re saying goodbye to the office for now. Teachers, organizations and religions use signals as effective tools in transitioning people more fully from one task to the next.

to do list for a relaxing weekend

  1. Set up automatic technology responses

Set an automatic response to your email and texts letting people know you are not working. “I’m out of the office until Monday, I’ll get back to you soon,” or something similar suffices for email. Your text could be more informal: Not checking my texts until Monday, thanks! Simply knowing that response is there can give you a mental break – giving you permission not to worry about email or text messages.

  1. Remind yourself why you work

A priority-check can remind us of what’s most important. After all, we don’t exist simply to work. If you can’t stop feeling guilty when you’re not at work, try a small volunteering gig. A study in The Journal of Aging Health found that volunteering can make significant and unique contributions to your emotional health and life satisfaction. Research supports the old adage that giving is more important than receiving. A balanced life of family, friends and personal fulfillment requires intermittent breaks from our careers, no matter how dedicated or ambitious we are.

  1. Know what you need from your weekends

Sometimes we don’t have complete control over our weekend schedules, or an unusual week leaves us needing something different. But in general, get a sense what kind of weekend best helps you unwind and rejuvenate.  

Do you typically enjoy your weekends scheduled to the hilt? Or, perhaps you need to spend every Sunday cozied up without even leaving the house. Whatever it is, having it set up beforehand can help transition you from work to home. If you leave Friday knowing your movie tickets are purchased, and your best friend is coming over Saturday for takeout, it’s easier to dive in. Whatever you need, try to put it in place before you leave work for the weekend.

  1. Enlist help from a friend

Call on friends, family or whoever could help you create the weekend you need. Maybe your brother is best at helping you relax, so you’ll spend a day with him. Or your best friend gives you a peaceful feeling, so you make plans with her to hit yoga together every Sunday.

Having another person to check-in with about your plans increases the chances that you’ll follow through. This can make all the difference between a stressful, “I can’t stop thinking about my report,” kind of weekend, and “Oh yeah, this is why I work Saturday and Sunday.”

Remember, you deserve to live a full life, which includes getting away from the workplace – both physically and mentally. To learn more about living your ideal life, listen to Joe Dispenza’s book, Wholeness.


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