How does your day end? Do work worries and problems accompany you home and distract you from your family or peace of mind? Would you like to find a way to let go of the after effects of your job so you can better appreciate and enjoy your life beyond 9 to 5?
“It’s easy to be caught in the momentum of a busy job, but the costs of this emotional hijacking are high," says Jeffrey Brantley, M.D., founder and director of the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Program at Duke University’s Center for Integrative Medicine and author of Five Good Minutes in the Evening. "Worry and hurry can dominate your inner life. You may feel out of touch with loved ones. A good night’s sleep may be a distant memory. Fortunately, by learning to be present and mindful, you can transform your inattention to attention and your stress into solutions.”
How to begin
Here are some of Dr. Brantley’s quick tips for making the transition home easier. Begin by doing the following:
Breathe deeply for a minute. Pay attention to your breath moving in and out. Don’t try to control your breathing or thoughts.
Set an intention. Focus on a goal that’s important to you. For example, your intention could be to become more aware of what you’re doing in the moment.
Act wholeheartedly. As simple as it sounds, you may find it takes practice to be wholehearted, even for five minutes.
When you’re ready, try the following exercises. “As you do them, try not to become attached to achieving a specific outcome,” Dr. Brantley advises.
Wind down. Reorganize your day at work so simple and pleasurable tasks come at the end of the day.
Write it out. Take five minutes to jot down the thoughts or feelings that upset you. “You’re writing only for yourself, so take this opportunity to be truthful and uncensored,” says Dr. Brantley. Let go of the thoughts that bring you down.
Feel gratitude and sleep better. Your mind may focus on negative or worrisome topics just when it’s time to go to bed. A simple practice of gratitude can shift your experience from worry to ease. Start by breathing deeply. Then recall and reflect on one good thing that happened or came your way that day.
Take a mental holiday. When you're feeling stressed in bed, take five minutes to visualize a perfect vacation. Imagine a peaceful getaway, such as spending time on a beach or in a forest. Carry this calming imagery with you as you drift off to sleep.
“In the end, practicing these exercises in the evening can help you connect with your life and your loved ones honestly, fully, and directly,” says Dr. Brantley.