Good morning everyone,

It's looking like a grey, dismal day out there today and it's going to be followed by grey, rainy weather for the rest of the week and all the way through next week. I wonder when we'll see the sun again...

We all have too many work days which bleed into our evenings all too regularly. A mistake which resulted in hours of apologies and corrections, which is then followed by hours worrying about what other people will think of you; a project that’s stuck in your mind; an unpleasant conversation with a colleague; or just a day when you’re not quite “feeling it,” can easily make you feel overstressed. As much as we strive for work-life balance, sometimes it’s hard to truly give yourself time to re-energize before another day at the office.

While everyone has different interests and ways of dealing with stress, here are five easy ways that you might find helpful.

1. Make your own “Premium Friday”

This is something you might want to consider. I definitely do it sometimes. While on most days I’d stay at work until late as needed, I’ve fixed one day every now and then when I leave without doing any overtime work to make time for myself. 

At first this was tough. I felt guilty for leaving ‘early’. But the discomfort eventually passed, and now whenever asked I just explain that this system improves the quality of my work and helps control stress — could anyone really argue with that? Oddly enough, as long as you have a regular appointment with a set time (a language class, sports group, art lesson, or just a “no overtime” day) it will soon become an accepted status quo.

2. Walk an extra mile

A study by the American Psychosomatic Society shows that a couple of 20 minute walks each week can have the same effect as taking an antidepressant, and I believe them! We spend so much time sitting, typing, and thinking about work and other obligations, that after work we are still somewhat disconnected from our own bodies. After a particularly trying day, I sometimes take the longer way home just to calm down. Watching the last few minutes of a sunset, discovering little bits of hidden beauty, feeling the wind against your skin, all these things can help center you, see things from a different perspective, and clearly mark the end of the work day. Plus, getting a few extra minutes of movement in our busy days is always a plus.

3. Shut out the noise in your brain

It doesn't matter how you do it, just find someway to distract yourself from listening to the voice in your head. For some people it's yoga. For others it might be going to see a great movie. For others they might enjoy doing a crossword. Whatever works for you to block out the noise in your brain.

4. Turn off your screens!

Besides the eight-plus hours spent looking at work computers, our commutes and off hours tend to get taken over by smartphones too: checking Facebook, answering private and work emails, playing games, watching those funny cat videos… the list is endless. Don’t get me wrong, I love my tech and easy communication services as much as everyone else, but we do have to acknowledge that we probably spend at least half of our day looking at screens. This keeps us in a constant state of high alert, and after a stressful day at work, it’s the last thing we need. Once you get home, set your phone to charge, and don’t check it again until it wakes you up in the morning. Instead read, chat with a partner or friend, have a glass of wine, crochet a frog hat — anything that focuses your attention outwards.

5. Stop, drop, and relax

Society basically tells us that unless we are always doing something productive all the time; unless we achieve our targets; and unless we meet the standards for an “accomplished person,” we are simply not good enough. Even after work, there is the pressure to create a perfect Instagram post, work on a side hustle, clean the house, make sure the kids have finished their homework, finish lingering projects, or (the most dangerous of all) just check those “last” couple of work emails. I am particularly bad at this and recently have been trying very hard to strip away this subconscious notion that my worth comes from maximized output.

While this is not doable on a daily basis, I am now purposefully scheduling bits of time to just…be on my own. I like to have a cup of coffee, read, or go for a walk. Others may prefer to listen to heavy metal, nap or take their dog for a long walk. Whatever it is, as long as it makes you feel good, does not involve screens and is not a covert way of being productive, go nuts. The world will still be there when you get back.

All of these are great ideas, but I find that sex is a pretty good stress-reliever about you? 

Have a great day!

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