Technology has never been a nine-to-five business, and that’s especially true today. Whether your office is in some corporate park or your basement, deadlines are aggressive, demands for updates are incessant and email follows you wherever you go. While there’s no magic way to make the craziness stop, you still need to step back and get your breath each day. But how?
Here are five simple suggestions that can help build a barrier between your work and home life, and adjust your dial from meltdown to mellow. It doesn’t matter which techniques you choose—you just have to follow them regularly to reap the benefits.
Change Your Clothes
Whether you work in an environment where professional attire is the norm, or one where you can sail in wearing shorts and a t-shirt, these are still the clothes in which you labor for the entire day. Reset your clock by shedding your office skin when you get home. Take off your shoes and socks. Put on fabrics that feel good and don’t bind or restrict your movement. Walk around barefoot, or put on the kinds of socks or slippers that make your feet happy.
And by “eat,” we don’t mean rush into the kitchen to make dinner. Have a snack first. Stick to things that you like, like a favorite fruit or cheese. Make a cup of tea and drink it slowly. Or, chew gum for what researchers call “mastication-induced arousal.” Reportedly on par with mild exercise in terms of sending blood to the brain, 20 minutes with a piece of gum is an effective stress buster, to the point where it’s sometimes used in the treatment of PTSD.
Start your work-free evening by dripping cold water on your wrists and dabbing it behind your ear lobes.There are major arteries right underneath those spots, so cooling them off can help calm the whole body. Invest in a foot spa or rub your feet over a small, hard ball for an easy foot massage. Relieve tensed up muscles by draping a damp, heated towel around your neck. Run the bath and have a soak. If you don’t have a tub, take a long hot shower.
Move Your Body
Not a gym rat? No problem. Take a brisk walk around the neighborhood to give yourself some time to recover from the commute and separate from work. Try walking around the house while lifting your knees high and pumping your arms. Do some simple stretches: Raise your arms straight up and reach for the sky, roll your shoulders, and twist and bend at the waist. Try the full body yoga move “downward dog,” then rest for a bit in “child’s pose.”
No need to hit the local ashram or attend a TM training session—five minutes of peace is all it takes to help you decompress. There’s ample evidence that two quick bouts of silent meditation a day can relieve stress and depression. Find a quiet, comfortable spot and concentrate on your breathing. Need help getting in the mood? Check out the many videos on YouTube or one of the variety of podcasts that are available.
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