Every night I have the same frustrating problem: I am plagued by thoughts about work. I remember emails I didn’t write, people who bother me, and stuff that didn’t get done fast enough. The politics of my job invade my personal space and I have ridiculous dreams about the people I work with that leave me dreading work in the morning. Because in college we do our work in the middle of the night, I feel like I did not learn how to take care of myself past 5 pm. Luckily, I’m learning. Here are the ways I chill out after work to take the edge off:
1. Read Uncomplicated Books: I recently read the last 2 Harry Potter books, a big step in a different direct than the fine literature I read in college. Harry Potter is like a guilty pleasure. My advice: go to the library and find all the children’s novels you wanted to read but never had the time. Phillip Pullman’s His Dark Materials Trilogy (i.e. The Golden Compass) is great too. Anything easy to read that won’t make you think too hard. If anything, it will get you back into the habit of reading everyday.
2. Work Out: The body needs 30 minutes of active movement a day to keep from turning into a couch potato. Yes, it’s 30 minutes you could devote to something easier, but it’s still only 30 min out of 24 hours. Cardiovascular exercise is a great way to decompress from work, physically process through stuff that pisses you off, and recover from sitting in an office chair. Your ass will thank you. Your peace of mind will thank you. Even if you go take a walk it’s still better than sitting and thinking about work.
3. Watch a Movie: I feel like this one is a no-brainer. Movies are great for disconnecting. Enough said.
4. Cook or Try Some New Food: Now that you have money rolling in from your job, take that money and go eat some food you’ve never tried before. Make a new dish or go out for something like Moroccan food. Check out this site: Make My sushi, or check out Smitten Kitchen for the latest recipe.
5. Take a Class: This is something I haven’t done yet because I’m still settling into my work schedule, but there are a ton of cool free or cheap classes to take. Dance, music, knitting, art, crafting, language, tennis etc… Check out Craigslist for starters. If you are in the Bay Area like me check out Free & Cheap SF. If you are LGBTQ and in the bay area check out Queer Things To Do in SF . Just don’t take something that will stress you out even more.
6. Hobby: I craft and draw. Crafting saved me in college and it saves me now. I’m so into crafting it’s a near religious experience to me. Still, it’s not everyone’s cup of tea so here is a list of hobbies I’ve created:
- Playing music
- Sculpting things from clay/ pottery
- Playing sports (Join a community team!!!)
- Origami (not quite a crafty craft.)
- Video games (not my thing, but some people are super into them.)
- Home revamping
- Dumpster Diving (my roommates do it. It’s illegal, however some people find it to be great fun.)
- Flower arranging
- Building rockets and launching them off your roof
- Horse ridding
- Volunteering with animals (I’m not sure that this is a hobby, but if you like animals then cool.)
- Games (chess? )
- Check out this list from Not So Boring Life.
7. Visit Friends and Family: If you live close to your family sometimes it is nice to drop in and see how they are doing. Go have dinner at home once in a while, visit Aunt Matilda, or see a movie with a sibling. Their problems and family drama are likely to distract you from work drama.
8. Don’t check Work email past 6 pm. It might be hard, but you have to create some boundaries between you and your job. Email is tool used commonly to manipulate you into working and taking less time for yourself, or scrutinizing your own work ethic. Don’t fall into the trap. If your boss really needs something, they can call you.
9. Date/ Hang out with Significant Other: Hanging out with my girlfriend is great! She listens to me vent about work for a while and then distracts me. She also gets me to go out with her which is a great distraction. Just make sure you and your partner have some distance as it’s important to develop your lives away from each other too in order to maintain the relationship.
10. Pets: I don’t have pets, but my roommates have cats and they are great at relaxing everyone in the house. Pets are important. Did you know people with pets live longer, fuller and happier lives? Pets can calm us down and make us more connected to the simple things in life like meowing, scratching, nibbling and chasing strings.
11. Make your room a work free zone: Remember how in college you did everything from your dorm room? Don’t do that with work. The last thing you want is to associate the place that you sleep with your job. Make your bedroom a comfortable place and make sure that if you work at home that your desk is elsewhere. Fill the room with candles, incense, or other things that remind you of comfort and relaxation.