Balancing work and life has always been a struggle. Learning to put your Blackberry down and enjoy real life as it happens is difficult, and it’s hard to leave the job at your desk even when you’ve already left the office. In fact, it seems that as a nation we’re getting at separating the workplace and our own personal time, as a recent survey commissioned by Pete Robert of betterbathrooms.com revealed that Brits don’t switch off and relax until 7:59pm in the evening.
The survey, commissioned by betterbathrooms.com, confirms what confirms what we’ve long suspected – that the working day no longer ends at 5:30pm, but often continues after we leave the office, no doubt fuelled by the rise of smartphones and tablets giving us constant access to work emails and documents.
However, taking an average of 48 minutes per day, the commute home can be valuable time for reflection and relaxation, leaving you much more attentive and present for your partner, children, friends and, most importantly, yourself. We’ve put together our top ten ways to start relaxing you leave your desk in order to unwind earlier that 7:59pm...
Aromatherapy can help change your mood and decrease stress levels, and Neal's Yard's Roll-On Relaxation stick is the perfect way to keep a bit of aromatherapy with you at all times.
Roll this on your pulse points to help lift your mood, and relax. The lavender, geranium and bergamot helps with stress and irritability, while the frankincense uplifts your mood. The orange in the roll-on also helps nourish the nervous system and reduce feelings of exhaustion.
Eating certain foods, such as blueberries, can help you relax and unwind. Blueberries are high in vitamin C which gives the body resilience against stress. They’re also high in fibre, helping to regulate your blood sugar which can fluctuate too often when you're stressed out. Not a fan of blueberries? Oranges, dried apricots and almonds will also do the trick.
Download some downtime
Your commuting time doesn't always have to be about answering emails or editing spreadsheets. Having an eReader or Kindle with you on your journey home can help take your mind off your to-do list.
The beauty of an eReader is that it allows you to read whatever you fancy, without the judging eyes or your fellow commuters. From a murder mystery novel to easy-to-read chick-lit, choose whatever you think will help you chill-out and give your brain a break, even if it's not terribly intellectual.
Make Time For Tea
Herbal tea is a natural, healthy way to de-stres, and Pukka Tea's founders are incredibly passionate about the health benefits of organic herbs.
Relaxation tea is made from a blend of organic chamomile, fennel & marshmallow root to help calm and soothe your mind and body after a hectic day. Keep an eco-friendly tea cup in your handbag and make a brew to go before you clock out.
Whether you’re a crocheter or a knitter, using your time on a train home to craft is a brilliant way to lower your stress levels and relax.
Keep your crafting materials in your handbag so that you can get knitting the moment you nab a spot on the tube or bus.
Tune In, Tune Out
Music is a powerful thing that can completely affect your mood. Rather than mulling over the day's happenings over and over in your mind, why not make a "happy" or "relaxing" playlist on your iPod or mobile phone that you listen to from the moment you leave the office? Put your headphones on and – this is key - set your mobile to silent.
Crack a Puzzle
If you need a bit of distraction in order to trick your mind into relaxing, doing puzzles and games like Sudoku or crosswords can help you forget about the day’s troubles.
Buy yourself a book of puzzles or download puzzle apps on your phone to keep your mind off work while you commute home.
Get on your bike
Instead of catching the train or driving home, why not try cycling or walking home as a way to help yourself unwind before you get back to your "real life".
Walking or cycling home in the fresh air can do wonders for your stress levels, and the exercise will get your endorphins flowing which can help relieve stress and lift your mood.
Download a meditation app like iChillout to your phone to help you relax and de-stress during your commute home.
Perfect for train journeys, iChillout gives you a selection of relaxing soundscapes like crashing waves or chimes which can be set to a timer so you don't miss your stop. Much more relaxing than listening to people moan about their work day on their mobiles…
Put it on Paper
Journalling is something that has gotten lost in the digital age. Why write down your thoughts on paper when you can Tweet, Facebook or blog them instead, right?
However, there's a beauty and a quiet art in journalling, and taking the time to reflect and pour out your thoughts on your way back home means that when you open your front door, the day's worries and stresses are now tucked away in your journal, instead of rattling around your mind.
Picture credits: Neal's Yard, Pukka Tea, iTunes, Rex Features