A woman working from home

13 easy ways to switch off from work at the end of a long day

Posted by for Mental Health

Whether you’re back in the office or have stuck with working from home, here’s how to get out of ‘work’ mode at the end of the day. 

While the boundaries between work and home may not be quite as blurred as they were during the pandemic for those of us who have returned to the office part or full time, switching off from ‘work mode’ at the end of a long day can still be pretty tough.

If you’re the type of person who feels the urge to check your emails on the train home or finds yourself running the day’s events over in your head while you get ready for bed, you’ll know what we’re talking about – even when you don’t mean to, the chaos of the working day can make it hard to completely unplug come 5:30pm. 

However, we all know how important having a work/life balance can be for our mental health (especially when it comes to avoiding burnout) – and that’s where this article comes in. Keep reading to check out our bumper guide to all the things you can do at the end of the day to help create that mental transition. 

1. Tidy up

If you’re WFH and your workspace is used for other things in your home, make sure to tidy away everything you use for work at the end of the day. Alternatively, if you’ve just got home from the office, consider storing your work bag upstairs or in a cupboard.

The term ‘out of sight, out of mind’ has never been so apt – not only will the act of tidying help to create a boundary between your workday and the evening, but putting your laptop far away from reach will help you to resist any urges to ‘check in’ later on.

2. Write it all down

If work worries tend to play on your mind throughout the evening, use a ‘brain dump’ activity to get everything you need to remember down on paper. It doesn’t need to be fancy – simply grab a piece of paper and write down everything that you want to be reminded of the following morning.

By writing everything down, you’re less likely to spend the evening fretting about everything you need to do the next day – and you’ll likely feel more organised, too. 

A woman writing in a notebook
How to switch off from work: write down everything on your mind before you log off.

3. Move your body

Working out at the end of the day is a great way to take your focus off of work and shake off any stress you might be holding onto, too. Don’t worry if you’re not up for a high energy workout after work, either – doing something less strenuous like yoga or mobility work can still help you to unwind.

Try to plan out what you’re going to do before work (you could even lay out your equipment and clothes), so that as soon as the working day ends you can dive straight into it and begin the transition.

4. Go for a walk

If you’re working from home and want some physical distance to help you switch off from work, heading out for a walk could make a big difference to your headspace – not only because it distances you from your working environment, but because it mimics a commute-like journey.

Taking some time to walk after leaving the office – perhaps by walking to the next station stop – is also a great way to create a pause between the day and the evening.

You could even try practising mindfulness while you’re walking to relieve stress and take your mind off of the events of the day.

5. Cook dinner

Cooking dinner may sound like a simple suggestion, but you’ll be surprised how big a difference it can make to your headspace.

It’s great because it doesn’t just engage you mentally, but physically, too – you won’t be able to log back on to your laptop or check emails when you’ve got vegetables to chop! 

A woman cooking
How to switch off from work: cook dinner.

6. Have a bath

What better way to leave the working day behind you than to jump straight into a steaming hot bath filled with your favourite bath products?

If you’re working from home and like to plan ahead of time, you could even start running the bath half an hour before you finish, so you have no choice but to clamber in as soon as you shut your laptop.

7. Talk to a friend

One of the best ways to ensure you switch off from work on time is to set yourself a non-negotiable appointment, and scheduling in some time with friends is a great way to do just that.

Having a chat is also a brilliant way to lower your stress levels and distract yourself from anything you’re worried about – perfect for straight after that end-of-day rush. 

8. Get crafty

Similar to cooking, sitting down with a craft after work is a great way to occupy your hands and mind so you’re able to transition into a more relaxed headspace.

From painting and embroidery to pottery-making and macramé, there are loads to choose from – check out our guide to the best craft kits for adults to get started. 

A woman painting
How to switch off after work: get creative.

9. Listen to a podcast

Instead of letting your mind obsess over all the tasks you didn’t get done in the day, try plugging into your favourite podcast and letting the conversation distract you.

This is a brilliant one whether you’re working from home or commuting – the act of listening in to someone else helps you to achieve the ‘me’ time you need at the end of a long day.

10. Do a puzzle

It might sound silly, but there’s something about doing a jigsaw puzzle which helps to keep your attention off of anything but the puzzle itself – perfect if you often find yourself worrying about everything that needs to get done the following day.

Doing an enjoyable activity after work will also give you something to look forward to throughout the day, which will help to keep you motivated.

11. Look after your skin

Whether or not you’ve been wearing make-up, cleansing your skin after you finish work is a great way to physically and metaphorically wipe the stress of the day away.

Applying your favourite skincare products is also a great way to practise self-care and wind down for the evening – especially if you take your time while doing it. 

A woman doing her skincare routine
How to switch off after work: do your skincare routine.

12. Give yourself a facial massage

You don’t need to be an expert to know we hold a lot of tension in our facial muscles, so doing a quick facial massage after work is a great way to relieve that pressure and encourage relaxation.

All you need to get started is a facial oil, rich moisturiser or cleanser, after which you can check out our facial massage guide.

13. Change clothes

Whether you’re wearing office clothes or loungewear, changing into a different outfit for the evening is an easy way to mark that transition from work to relaxation.

Slipping into something comfier like a pair of PJs may also help you to feel more relaxed.

If adapting to the new world of work is taking its toll on your mental health, you’re not alone. From the struggle of transitioning to hybrid working and the stress of relying on technology to struggles with concentration, confidence and setting boundaries, there are a number of reasons why you might find this time particularly challenging.

Stylist’s Work It Out series aims to give you the tools and resources you need to take care of your mental health at work both now and in the future. From completing your Work 5 A Day to dealing with issues including anxiety, loneliness and stress, we’ll be exploring all aspects of work-related wellbeing.

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Lauren Geall

As Stylist’s digital writer, Lauren Geall writes on topics including mental health, wellbeing and work. She’s also a big fan of houseplants and likes to dabble in film and TV from time-to-time. You can find her on Twitter at @laurenjanegeall.