De-stress, not distress: How to unwind after work

We all have the best of intentions to improve our ‘wind down’ time especially after an evening shift — but when it comes to it, our best intentions evaporate.

Not Distress

The good news is, you can change. Here’s how I get the best of my downtime. 

Set the stage even before you have started your shift.

Coming home to a nurturing environment will help you wind down after a stressful day. That won’t happen automatically, though. You have to set the stage before you leave.

Brainstorm with friends to identify what you enjoy about your space. What are the special features that make it feel like home? Fresh flowers, your pet, your precious succulent pot, your own music, your yoga mat, your laptop with your next travel plans, the new cushions on the couch, your knitting etc. It doesn’t matter what they are, only that your space makes you feel good when you step inside.

End the day with a positive ritual, even if it’s been a hard day.

Create your own rituals and habits to close out the day and leave your stress behind. Remove your lanyard and take a deep breath. Visualise all the pressure and intensity of the day leaving your body and mind with your breath. Leave the workplace with some farewells and affirmation to and from your colleagues.  

Use your commute

‘Me’ time

On the way home, take a moment to appreciate something you did well that day, or congratulate yourself for making it through something hard. Play your favourite music, podcasts, or TED talks. Whether you’re driving, walking, cycling or taking public transport, try to turn your commute into a small moment of ‘me time’.

Make plans for something exciting

Having a project to work on or a plan to look forward to can be joyful. Think about a weekend away, plan a surprise party, or brainstorm for a present you have to buy. Sometimes, thinking about doing something wonderful can be as much fun as actually doing it.

Stay connected

Invest the time in your friendships. The value of a friend who can be tough with you, tease you, and quote back to you your own words of wisdom is incalculable. If you’ve got a good friend who is available during your commute, make the effort to reach out on the phone for a brief chat. Even the shortest connection will help you transition out of your work persona and ground you back in your home life.

If you’re having a tough time, ask them in advance to have something ready to make you laugh. This can be a shared project, something you do for each other in moments of stress.

Reaching out reminds us that friends are out there and it can help dismiss the feeling of being alone.

Embrace your downtime

Finding ways to de-stress at the end of your workday or on the commute home can help you to arrive at home de-stressed and ready to relax. It seems counterintuitive, but sometimes we have to prepare to relax, especially if you work in a busy, complex field like most nurses and midwives.

Embrace the positive qualities of entering your own space: time with your family and friends, a quiet night at home alone, or a refreshing sleep.

Leave work behind

If there are work issues that you need to write down in a journal, or on your list to attend to tomorrow, do this whilst having your chosen beverage. Do it as soon as possible after you get home to help you let it go until tomorrow. Removing your work clothes can also help you leave the day behind. 

This is your time – own it!

Relax and enjoy your precious space and enjoy your relaxation, your recreating and recharging. You deserve it! 

Get in touch

If you’re having trouble winding down after work and you need a chat, give Nurse & Midwife Support a call on 1800 667 877.