How to Turn Off Your Work Brain


In today's audio postcard I'm talking about how you can turn off your work brain at the end of the day. 

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You get home after a harrowing day at work, drop your keys and bag on the table just inside the door and let out an exhausted sigh of relief. You flop down on the couch, flip on the TV and zone out as you sort through the mail (mostly junk) that was waiting for you in the mailbox.

It feels so good to be home – back in your comfy space, where there are no fluorescent lights, or copy machine noises to bother you – especially after the day you’ve had. Ugh!

Can you believe what Steve said in the meeting this morning?! The meeting that, by the way, was totally unnecessary and a complete waste of everyone’s time. OMG! And then when Karen had the audacity to question the way you had organized the report you’ve been working on for months. For months! And now she wants to stick her nose in? What the hell does she know anyway?! And don’t get me started on….

*Record scratch* Hold up! Wait a minute! Do you see what’s happening here?

Does this scenario sound at all familiar?

This happens to all of us, right? We get caught up in the work drama and end up dragging it home with us. Because, after a uniquely frustrating day at work, its hard to shake off the day and leave it behind you.

But at the same time, by hanging on to it and reliving everything, you end up extending and stewing that frustrated feeling. And before you know it, when you’re at home and wanting nothing more than to relax, your stomach is in knots, your shoulders are tight and you’re clenching your teeth.

You are in fact at home, but most of you is actually still at work, still living the part of your day that is over. And you begin to realize you’re cheating yourself out of what you’ve been looking forward to all day. A chance to disconnect from work and focus on other things.

So what do you do? How do you turn off your work brain? It seems relentless doesn’t it? Almost like you don’t have control. But you do!

It’s hard for most of us to switch gears that quickly. Some people are good at it – they can walk out the door and let it all go. But for everyone else, it’s not as easy as flipping a switch.

The thing that helps? A transition!

Transitions are something we teach to kids. Especially when we want them to get into the habit of going to bed each night.

And we work with them to create a bedtime routine, which serves as a transition from the daytime where they’ve been active – playing, learning and having fun – to night time when they need to get a goodnight’s sleep.

We even do this as adults – have an evening winddown ritual – whether it’s intentional or not. You wash your face, brush your teeth, change into your jammies and crawl under the covers to snuggle up with a good book before drifting off to sleep.

OK, maybe replace the jammies with shorts and a t-shirt and the book with a magazine or (more likely) scrolling through Instagram on your phone. But you get my point.

You don’t expect to go straight from your day filled with activity to fast asleep in an instant. (Unless, of course, you’re one of those magic people, like my husband, who can. And then, lucky you!)

Why do you expect to be able to do it so easily when you come home from work? You end up feeling bad about not having the magical ability to just shut it off. Which is not only not fair to yourself but it doesn’t help in the least.

Instead, think abot how you can create your own post-work-day transition. To give yourself a softer landing when you come home from work. Doesn’t that sound so much nicer?