Disconnect From Work & Leave All Bullshit Behind

SUMMARY POINTS

Step #1: Make a list
Step #2: Say your goodbyes
Step #3: Go through a transitional ritual
Step #4: Detox by detaching

Just 5 more minutes + just this one last thing = the repetitive cycle we all are too familiar with.

Isn’t it always the same routine?

First we all want that 5 more minutes of sleep in the morning to finish that one last dream, then we want that 5 more minutes of time at work to finish that one last task, and at the end of the evening, we just want 5 more minutes to finish that one last bottle glass of wine.

It’s 7 am, you woke up 3 hours ago already stressing about work.

Mindlessly putting on coffee and trying to figure out where in the hell you put your notes for this morning's meeting while trying to pack your laptop, work files, charger, mouse and sticky notes into your bag and simultaneously shoving a bagel in your mouth.

As you start-up the car, you check traffic conditions. And there you see it, a congested mess between your house and the office. You try to figure out the best way to commute this morning.

Finally, after a grueling 40 minutes, you make it to the office.

Saying hello to your co-workers on the way in, knowing that the eager ones are already going to be there. First in the office and the last ones out and somehow being happy and chipper doing this.

Who are they trying to impress anyway?

You try to convince yourself it’s not you, yet you still find yourself feeling guilty and jealous. Their enthusiasm makes you feel bad for things like trying to leave work on time or leave work at work.

Yes, you understand this is deflecting but still!

For the next 9 hours, you dance to the tune of 2 steps forward 5 steps back. If only this dance changed to a more relaxed flowy style over this rigid arms down no smile Irish jig you seem to be doing day in and day out.

You have counted every dreaded minute in the last 8.5 hours, yet the stress is now even more overwhelming. The feeling of drowning trying to get at least one more project done in the next 30 minutes so you can leave with a clear desk is overwhelming.

Who are we trying to kid, did we really believe that we would actually go home from work with a completely clear desk? Has that ever happened?

Sadly, we all know that there will always be work left at the end of the day. So what do you do? You take your work, along with your stress home, once again.

Stewing about it for the next 40 minutes in your commute home is only making the drive worse.

You arrive home to the usual craziness. You do your best to take care of everything as quickly as possible so you can get back to that spreadsheet you left half finished.

However, you find it impossible to concentrate on any one thing.

So how do we make sure not to let the work that has piled up on our desks and the eager-beaver attitudes rub off on us?

How do we keep work at work and ensure we leave the office like every day is a Friday before a long holiday?

Well, first we acknowledge that there will always be work at the end of that day, and that's okay. The nice thing is, like any addiction, admitting we have a problem is the first step to recovery.

“Hi, my name is Joyce and I’m a stressaholic.”

Since we can’t just stop at the bar and drink away our stress, here's a simple four step process to assist you with leaving all the bullshit of work at work.

Step #1: Making a list and checking it twice

We all have this overwhelming struggle in our daily lives with not only trying to get things done but also to get them done in a timely manner before an array of deadlines. 

Where is the MS Paperclip Guy when we need him most?! 

Luckily there is another small, unsung, underused tool coming to our aid. The To-Do List! So simple, yet so majestic! So awe inspiring. 

And, it has a sly little psychological trigger too.

At the end of the day, when you write down or update a list of to-do’s, you subtly trick your brain into thinking that it’s being worked on. It’s “on deck” so to speak.

This little mental trigger is what helps a lot of people “let go” because it allows your mind to be free of having to remember or worry about what needs to be done tomorrow.

Your brain doesn’t need to think about it anymore. It’s on the list - front and center on your desk.

A to-do list helps you prepare to leave work. How you may ask? Well, do we have a fun ride ahead for you.

1. Set A 30 Minute Reminder
Set a calendar alarm or set a meeting with yourself on your work calendar 30 minutes before your normal check-out time and go to the next steps. If possible, make it a recurring daily meeting. This will help to make it a daily habit.

2. Organize Your Desk
Get things tidied up. Put papers back in their proper folders, throw out that stale half-eaten snack, save your work files, close your programs, dump the old coffee/tea, etc.

3. Start Or Update Your To-Do List
Acknowledge all the things you have completed today. Check-off the items you finished and give yourself a self-righteous high-five. Look at you go! You should be proud of yourself!

Add the new high priority items to your list. If you need help sorting out priorities, read this article about managing workloads and projects and then, place your top priorities on your to-do list.

These steps will reduce your morning stress about where to start, which project to continue on or begin, etc. These small actions will help you find peace for the night ahead and minimize the chances of bringing home work stress.

Remember, it’s not just you that is affected by work stress. 

VIDEO: Science Says - Leave work stress at work
YOUTUBE: Performance Lab
LENGTH: 1:39

Summary points:
> Constant stress can become normalized
> Kids are affected by your stress
> Make a to-do list...it works
> Disconnect on the way home

Step #2: See you later, Alligator!

Communication is key! By saying goodbye when you leave the office, you’re not only stating a simple fact that you’re signing off for the night to your co-workers and yourself, but you’re also opening the door to leave on a happy note.

This is a fantastic time to compliment, uplift, and commend your fellow cubicle comrades.

Let Susan know you’re proud of her for completing that big task she was tackling, or tell Jim you’re grateful for the help he gave you earlier in clearing that damn paper jam in the copy machine.

Remember, we are all in this battle together, and a little gratitude and encouragement can go a long way for others and for you. It’s all about karma, baby. 

Step #3: Develop A Transitional Ritual 

After you have said goodbye to your companions, it is time make sure to truly leave work at work.

Wouldn’t it be fantastic if, when we walked out of the office, we had to go through one of those hazard decontamination chambers? With its powerful jet spray shower, it would clean the leeches of energy that are stuck to our souls from working all day right off and leave you feeling fully energized and cleansed?

Since the majority of us aren’t biohazard scientists and don’t have access to one of these, we’ll have to rely on our brains instead.

Here are six transitional rituals you can try out. Find the one that works for you and start incorporating it into your end of workday phase.

Ritual #1: Visualizations

Visualizations, much like meditation, can have a huge impact on your life. Luckily, visualizations only take a few short moments.

You can start this before you even get up and say goodbye. At your desk, close your eyes and take a couple deep breaths in. Listen to yourself and acknowledge any nagging thoughts or deep feelings you may have.

State to yourself, “I understand these thoughts and where they come from. I’m letting them go for today.”

This is most powerful if you can say it aloud, however you don’t have to.

After going through each feeling, take a couple more deep breaths and slowly open your eyes.

Now, for the visualization part.

A quick tip with visualizations, the more detailed you can make them, the more they are prone to stick. Add as many senses as possible.

Say you want to be in nature. I mean who doesn’t love laying in the grass on a sunny day?

Get a plant or some flowers for your desk. If you’re not allowed a real plant, even a fake one will do. Get some nature smelling essential oils and open it just before your visualization.

Added bonus if you can throw on a quick YouTube video of nature. This will help ground you.

Now, don’t be discouraged if you can't do any of these things at work, because they don’t have to be done there.

If you have 2 minutes free you can do this at home or during lunch. If you keep practicing in surroundings where you can use all your senses, then when you do your “end of the day” visualization it will be easier because you can bring back the memories of the actual events.

As you head towards the door to leave the office, you can continue with the visualization and let the work bullshit fade away. 

Ritual #2: Smile & Squish Some Heads

Okay, we all did this little thing as kids.

Spread your forefinger and thumb apart by about an inch or so. Then, close your left eye, peer through your thumb and finger and proceed to squish any of your coworker’s heads in the distance.

This short 2.5 minute Ted Talk featuring Karyn Buxman, a “Neuro-Humorist” which we guess is like a cross between a brain scientist and comedian, explains things really well.

VIDEO: Stress mgmt by TEDx Speaker Karyn Buxman
YOUTUBE: Karyn Buxman
LENGTH: 2:36

Summary points:
> Take a deep breath
> Smile big
> Squish the heads of unsuspecting victims

Ritual #3: Pop Bubble Wrap

Before you leave the office, sneak into the mailroom and grab a bunch of bubble wrap. A hand towel length will do just fine.

For some reason, popping bubble wrap is an incredibly satisfying activity and really addictive too. We’re not sure why, but for many of us, it’s therapeutic as well.

Get in your car. Grab the bubble wrap and wring it out like a wet towel - really strangle it like you’re choking your worst asshole coworker.

*pop*...*pop*...*pop*

*pop*...*pop*...*pop*

*pop*...*pop*...*pop*

Ooooh, that feels sooooo good.

It’s like you’re breaking their bones.

Or, if you’re the single-popping type, imagine each little bubble as a frustrating work issue, stressful project, office politics nonsense, that obnoxious email or anything that’s grinding you at the office.

Then, with that one thing in mind, pop that mini stress bubble and mentally visualize it snapping out of existence.

*pop*...it’s gone. It’s that simple.

With each mini stress bubble you pop, you’re releasing yourself from the mental chains of work. Keep at it for as long as you need to.

Then, sigh in relief and head home.

Ritual #4: Rock Out In Your Car

You can imagine it now.

You walk on the stage, thousands in the crowd are cheering you on. They’re here just for you. They’re here to hear you sing.

You feel the rush and adrenaline start as the drums begin. You drum along with the beat on the steering wheel.

Your pull out your air guitar.

The car is your stage.

You sing with all your heart and soul with an intensity even Adele is in awe of. The thought of this makes you smile and laugh.

This is when you start to feel happy.

All of a sudden your brain, which has been against you all day, starts releasing endorphins and dopamine. Some much needed feel-good medicine.

You get a good old fashioned brain buzz. And a legal high.

Some pop-n-rock classics from the 80’s and 90’s can be the perfect ear candy to reset your mood. Or maybe, it’s the timeless classics like Frank Sinatra, Bob Marley, Queen, etc. And if you’re pissed off, shout-sing some Alanis Morissette or some good old fashioned AC/DC.

Whatever you end up doing, your amazing performance will make people in the car next to you feel just as happy, filling them with whole-hearted laughter.

Ritual #5: Blow Something Up

While we don’t advise you to blow something up literally, you do have a few options for blowing things.

And no..not that, get your mind out of the gutter!

You are going to take on a more PG alternative…. BUBBLES!

Doesn’t the thought of you blowing bubbles bring a smile to your face?

The best part is, with some twist wires, you can even create your own bubble designs.

Want to send off a giant middle finger your boss for being a dick that day! They will never know.

Don't have bubbles? No problem, you can use blades of grass, dandelions, snow, bath soap bubbles after washing your hands, or even some sand.

While not only getting a good giggle out of this activity, you are also breathing deeper and slower, putting you in a calmer state.

Not to mention you can literally watch your stress float away and pop!

If you just can’t find any time to get out and do any of these, try this 1 minute space bubble session.

Why not let that Pain-In-The-Ass (PITA) Project fade away into the universe with 3 simple steps.

Step 1: Type in your pain-in-the-ass thing 
Step 2: Breath along with the instructions
Step 3: Feel your worries float away just like the bubbles

Ritual #6: Zone Out In Nature

Somewhere near the office or home, there’s a park.

How about stopping by that park and trying to find some ducks and have a staring contest with them?

If you can’t find any ducks to battle, let yourself zone out and stare blankly at nothing and everything.

Have you ever noticed how easy it is to stare blankly into a fire? Give that a shot using some of nature's other wonders.

It could be the birds perched on the branch, the leaves gently swaying from the breeze, the squirrel scurrying about or the small pebbles by your feet.

Pay attention and look around, there’s a lot to love around you.

You probably never noticed them before because you were just too damn stressed and busy. But, now’s your chance.

Taking even just a short 5 minutes to yourself before pulling in to the driveway will help clear your mind and will allow you to be more present.

And don’t beat yourself up… life will go on for another few moments without you perfectly fine.

Work will be fine.

Your husband/wife will be fine.

Your kids will be fine.

You will be much more attentive if you give yourself a little space and time. 

Ritual #7: Short Breathing Meditation

Meditating can be a great end of day ritual to decompress the mind and release the stress pressures from the day.

However, for a lot of us, meditation isn’t something we normally do on a daily basis. And for many of us, meditating in some weird sitting position and being thoughtless like a monk is simply impossible to do.

Our minds are always racing around with all sorts of junk. We need to focus on something rather than nothing. Our minds require some middle ground, something to latch onto.

One way to is provide a visual reference to follow.

We’ve created a very simple soundless animated timer that provides a visual anchor to help keep your mind on track while guiding you through a breathing meditation.

Give this a try - it just might work for you.

VIDEO: Breathing Meditation Timer 1 Round
YOUTUBE: Cubicle Therapy
LENGTH: 1:34

Step #4: Detoxing By Detaching

Once you’ve figured out a transitional ritual that works for you, now you’ve gotta keep those work thoughts from creeping back into your head.

In the words of a famous poet, “Drop It Like It’s Hot!” - Snoop Lion (former Snoop Dogg) ft. Pharrell Williams, circa September 2004.

Work is like a clingy sales staff in an electronics store. Trust us, we are truly just looking. But no, they have to come over every 2 minutes to see if anything has changed.

Do we look that confused?

To avoid some of work’s “clingy tendencies” once you are at home, make sure you give your full attention to yourself and to those around you.

Be present and in the moment with your mind.

A quick tip to detaching from work is taking your work email off your phone!

It is far too easy to “just check it quickly” when it is so accessible. Just think, how often do you go to the bathroom with your phone, and how many times have you checked your work email?

Too many to be proud of, isn’t it?!

That’s okay, we’ve all been there and luckily it is the easiest fix you can make.

If and when a work thought pops in your head, say to yourself, “Okay mind, that’s a work thought. I’m off the clock now. I’ll get to that when I’m back in the office.”

If you must take work home, schedule a specific time and stick to it, write it on your to do list, and schedule it in your calendar, treat it like a meeting.

Take Life One Day At A Time!

By putting even just one of these practices into motion you will find yourself feeling a little better every day. None of us are perfect and it takes time, but it will come.

You will find, with these little tidbits, you’ll be dancing out of work as if every day was Friday just like this guy in the video below.

VIDEO: How You Leave Work On A Friday
YOUTUBE: Adam Massias (original: Justin Hoyt)
LENGTH: 1:17

Here are the highlights from the video worth repeating:
🙂 Dance like no one’s watching
🙂 Take a moment to not have a care in the world
🙂 Grow a majestic beard

If you’re noticing it’s hard to loosen up a little, wine never hurt anyone. They do say a glass of wine a day, keeps the therapist away. Don’t forget the cheese to go along with it. 😉

Feel Better,
[Cubicle|Therapy]