Switching Off After Work : Tips to distract yourself

Posted by Amanda Furness


It’s a well known fact, acknowledged by psychologists, that concentrating on two things at the same time is very hard to achieve.  We’re not talking multi-tasking here, we’re talking about stopping yourself from dwelling on work issues in your personal time by actively distracting and immersing yourself in an interest or hobby.

Some research has shown that an activity which requires you to mentally engage with it, is better at distraction than a passive activity.  For example, at first glance, a crossword may be a better choice than watching television.  However, you may have specifically selected a television programme which requires your full attention.  The important point is to make sure your choice fully engages you and therefore helps you switch off after work.

The buzz you can receive from learning a new skill or developing an interest may take you by surprise and be very fulfilling.  A word of caution though, look to go for a good balance and don’t turn a new interest into an addiction which requires every spare minute of your time outside of work or, instead of feeling the benefit, you will have added another stressor to your life.  For example, half an hour spent on a computer game, particularly one where you improve your performance and gain access to higher levels, is an effective way for some to distract themselves from work issues; discovering that you’re still playing after midnight, won’t have quite the same effect!

The benefit of exercise and participating in a sport is well documented.  Not only can it help boost your energy at the end of a tiring day, but it also improves your mood by releasing chemicals which make you feel happier and more relaxed.  This, in turn, can encourage a deeper and more satisfying sleep.  And just because you don’t consider yourself a “sporty person” doesn’t exclude you – specialists believe a daily half hour walk (particularly in a green space) can provide these same benefits.

Finally, one should never forget the power of laughter.  Studies have shown that laughter can alter your mood and is a good way to distract you from your thoughts.  Not only that, but it has been proven to help people manage their relationships and professional anxieties better.  And remember that it has the extra benefit of being contagious.  So if you have company after work, finding something which really makes you laugh may well lighten the mood, getting your time together off to a good start.


This is one of a series of articles on how to switch off after work. You can access them all from this post Stress Management Tips : How to Switch Off After Work.