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Shifting Out Of Work Mode For Your Mental Health

The boundary between work and personal life has become increasingly blurred in our fast-paced, digitally connected world. Many people find it challenging to switch off from work mode, leading to chronic stress, burnout, reduced mental health and a diminished quality of life. One effective strategy to transition smoothly from work to personal time is through focus practice and mindfulness. By choosing your focus and initiating mindfulness, you can create a mental space to disengage from work-related thoughts and fully embrace your personal time, improving your mental health and wellness. This will also potentially improve relationships with your partner/ family. Here’s how to do it!



Understanding Mindfulness Practice And Choosing Your Focus

Mindfulness is the practice of being present and fully engaged in the moment, aware of your thoughts, feelings, and sensations without judgment. It is focus practice for the brain. It involves paying attention to the present moment rather than getting lost in past regrets or future worries. This will help you step out of your working pattern.  Mindfulness can be cultivated through techniques such as meditation, breathing exercises, and mindful movement. Some people choose mindful eating, focusing on the tastes and sensations of their food and recent research here from the University of Bath has shown that combining mindfulness focus practice and movement can also help wellbeing. 


A Bit Of Brain Science!

How does this work? There has been evidence now from recent studies that mindfulness has several effects on the neurophysiology of the brain. This includes 2024 research shown here where increased connectivity was seen between the amygdala, the part of the brain responsible for emotional stress, and the prefrontal cortex, which is responsible for inhibitory control, self-monitoring, problem-solving, planning,  and working memory.  This indicates potentially more ability of the prefrontal cortex to control the emotional centre. Past research seen here in 2018 has also shown mindfulness reduces the amygdala size, reducing the brain area responsible for stress.



The Benefits of Mindfulness

Mindfulness has been shown to reduce stress, improve mental clarity, and enhance emotional well-being. By practising mindfulness, you can develop a greater awareness of your mental and emotional state, making it easier to shift out of work mode and into a more relaxed and personal state of mind. 



Steps to Transition from Work Mode Using Mindfulness

  1. Set a Clear Boundary: Establish a clear boundary between work and personal time. This could be a specific time when you stop working or a physical space that separates your work area from your living space. Having a clear boundary signals to your mind that it’s time to transition.

  2. Mindful Breathing: When you finish work, take a few minutes to practice mindful breathing as part of your transition from work into your relaxation time and your own mental space. This is all about making a choice of what to focus on, and the more you practice, the more your brain will change to help you! Sit comfortably, close your eyes, and take deep, slow breaths. Focus on the sensation of your breath entering and leaving your body. This simple practice can help calm your mind and shift your focus away from work-related thoughts.

  3. Body Scan Meditation: A body scan meditation is a great way to relax and release tension. Start at your toes and slowly move up through your body, paying attention to any sensations or areas of tension. Imagine your muscles relaxing, and as you become aware of each body part, consciously release any tightness or stress. This practice can help you become more present and grounded. Especially after work.

  4. Mindful Walking: After a long day at work, take a walk outside and practice mindful walking. Focus on the sensation of your feet touching the ground, the rhythm of your steps, and the sights and sounds around you. This can be a refreshing way to clear your mind and transition into a more relaxed state.

  5. Gratitude Practice: Take a few moments to reflect on your day and identify things you are grateful for outside of the office environment. This practice can shift your focus from any work-related stress or negativity to positive aspects of your life, fostering a sense of contentment and relaxation.

  6. Engage in a Relaxing Activity: Find an activity that you enjoy, and that helps you relax. This could be reading, cooking, gardening, or spending time with loved ones. Engaging in a pleasurable activity can help shift your focus away from work and into a more personal and enjoyable space.

  7. Disconnect Digitally: Make a conscious effort to disconnect from work emails, messages, and notifications after your workday ends. Create a digital-free zone or time period where you can fully engage in personal activities without the intrusion of work-related communications.

  8. When you are with your loved ones, make your intention to deliberately focus on them. Listening to what they say, really engaging in playing with your children or hearing what they tell you without interruptions from work-related messages.



Conclusion

Transitioning out of work mode when you finish can significantly improve your overall well-being, mental health and work-life balance. By incorporating mindfulness practices into your daily routine, you can create a clear mental and emotional boundary between work and personal time. These practices can help you become more present, reduce stress, and fully enjoy your personal time, leading to a healthier and more fulfilling life. Remember, the key to successful mindfulness and focus practice is consistency and patience. Over time, these practices will become a natural part of your routine, making it easier to switch off from work and embrace the present moment.


Caroline Langston is the Co-Founder of Successful Consultants Ltd, an Executive, Personal and Career Development Coaching company in Hong Kong and New York. Caroline is dedicated to coaching people for performance success, wellness and happiness in their careers and lives. She is degree qualified and currently studies with King’s College London for and MSc in Psychology and Neuience of Mental Health. With a Certificate in Professional Coaching Mastery, she is also a Professional Certified Accredited Coach (International Coaching Federation), has a Certificate in Team Coaching from the EMCC and further certifications in Neuro Linguistic Programming at Master Practitioner and Coach level. www.successCL.com   

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