In an increasingly ‘immediate’ society, it can be more and more difficult to switch off. Our phones are forever pinging, notifications on our laptop pop up all of the time, we’re contactable every which way, and there’s a sense that our to-do list is never-ending. We can experience total information overload and might struggle to wind down. So here are 15 ideas of things that could help us to switch off.
1. Plan Your Time
When we don’t plan our time, we can find that everything begins to merge together, leaving no space between the go, go, go. Often we find that we work ourselves into the ground trying to ‘get stuff done‘ and then when we do have time off, we flop on the sofa too exhausted to do anything except worry about things.
If we plan our time, we can help to balance things out. Some of us might find it helpful to plan in some time to journal, ring a friend or draw out the stuff that’s bothering us. Once this time is up, and we’ve finished our jobs for the day, we can properly relax. We don’t have to worry about ‘getting stuff done’, because even though there might be things that need doing, we’ve planned them in so we know they’ll get done eventually.
Switching our brain off can take some practice. Some people find it helpful to start practising mindfulness, meditation, or yoga. There are lots of different apps that can help us with this such as the calm app and headspace. Our local leisure centre or village hall might run yoga classes or something similar. It can take a fair amount of time and practice to learn to empty our minds – it’s often not as easy as it sounds! But many people who engage in activities like this find it to be really helpful when it comes to switching off.
3. Let it out, then leave it there
Writing, talking, or drawing out the ‘stuff’ that’s weighing heavily on our minds can help to lighten the load a little. Letting it out but then (crucially!) leaving it there rather than continuing to mull it over, can help us to switch off.
It can take some practice to feel able to draw a line under the things we’re worried about, but it is doable.
4. Destroy Your Worries
Many of us are worriers. We worry about every single possible (and impossible) outcome of all the things we do. Some of us might have tried writing down our worries to get them out of our heads – but what happens then? Do our worries disappear or are we reminded of them each time we catch sight of the bit of paper we’ve written on?
Writing down and then physically destroying our worries is a good way to get them out of our heads for good, allowing us to switch off a little more easily. In terms of destroying them, we could rip them up, safely set them on fire, scribble all over them, or think of another way to (safely!) destroy them.
5. Spend time with loved ones
Spending time with those we love can drag us away from the things we need to switch off from. When we spend time with little ones, we often see and hear their unique views on the world. Being with our siblings, cousins, or friends can be good fun and give us a chance to blow off some steam. Sitting and chatting with our family (or friends who become our family) can help us to feel safe and loved. All of these things can help us to feel less stressed and allow us to switch off from our worries. Being connected with people can help us to disconnect from all else.
Spending time in a new place with new people can take us out of our heads and help us to switch off. When we’re concentrating on forging new connections, find our way around a new place, and helping other people (or animals!), it’s hard to keep thinking about the stuff that’s worrying us because we need to focus on what we’re doing. Volunteering can also help to lift our mood because it can get us out of the house, introduce us to people with similar interests to us, and give us a sense of purpose.
7. Get Lost In Another World
Whether we’re into books, TV programmes, theatre, films or gaming, getting lost in another world can help us to switch off from the world we live in. Putting our phone on silent and out of reach or switching it off completely while we get immersed in another world can stop it from ringing and bringing us back down to earth with a bump.
8. Notice Nature
When life gets busy and we turn inward, we often stop noticing the world around us. Counting the number of different bird species we see on the school run, taking 10 minutes to sit bare-footed in the garden with our breakfast of a morning, or noticing the different types of insects living in the hedgerows as we walk around the block on an evening, are all ways that we can switch off. It’s so much harder to stay stuck in our worries when we’re looking outwards and really noticing the nature surrounding us.
It’s hard to think about ‘stuff’ when we’re tackling a challenging brainteaser. Whether it be a book of riddles, a crossword, Su Doku, logic puzzle, or a tricky wordsearch, brainteasers can give us something different to think about.
It can be difficult to think about whether or not we should have worded an email a certain way when we have a tennis ball heading straight for us. Exercise can give us a focus. Whether we do it alone or with others, it can help us to switch off because we’re forced to be present.
11. Learn New Things
Learning new things can help to ignite a spark within us and re-energise us. In order to make the most of the learning opportunities we take up, we need to fully engage with them which means switching off from everything else. YouTube has some fantastic educational videos and there are loads of documentaries on catch-up sites and streaming services. We could buy a book on a topic that we’ve always wanted to know a bit more about, or even sign up to an adult learning class.
Whether we’re a maker, composer, writer, choreographer, or artist, creating something can be an amazing release and a great way to switch off. We have to concentrate on what we’re doing otherwise we’ll end up dropping a stitch or fluffing a note. To be our most creative selves, we have to let go of the things that are dragging us down.
13. Play Games
There are so many different games that we can play; card games, board games, computer games and more. With so many different games out there, we should always be able to find one or two that we enjoy. When we’re playing games, we have to concentrate otherwise we won’t know when to charge rent, or whether Professor Plum has visited the Dining Room lately. Concentrating on a game often means we can’t get tied up in thinking about other things – it’s a great way to switch off.
14. Listen To A Podcast
There are so many podcasts that are available these days – so much free entertainment and education available to us at the tap of a button. There are podcasts ranging from True Crime to Feminism to Self-Care or Film Reviews. Listening to a podcast that we find super-interesting, can help us to switch off.
15. Remember You’re Human
We are human. If we begin to embrace our imperfections and to let go of control, then we might find that it starts to get a lot easier to switch off. Once we remember that everyone makes mistakes, we can stop ruminating on them. We’re all imperfect and there are only so many hours in the day to get stuff done. Proper rest time – time away from our desks, some time we can properly switch off, is a really important part of our general self-care. Be kind to yourself.
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