Drawing, running or a podcast in the bath: our readers’ tips for switching off after work

Guardian readers
·6-min read
<span>Photograph: MoMo Productions/Getty Images</span>
Photograph: MoMo Productions/Getty Images

Making music

Even though it happens in the same space as my Zoom counselling sessions, making music helps me to switch off immediately. I close the camera, switch on my synthesiser and load up the software. That simple process transports me into a sonic fantasy world. I take my voice and the sounds of many of the instruments I play, and I sculpt them.

Every week or two, I upload a tune to streaming sites. Making music used to be my profession rather than a hobby, but that distinction now gives me a feeling of immense freedom. I can create my music in any way I like. I no longer need approval or affirmation from the outside world. John Walter, counsellor, Cornwall

Bath
In pod we trust … a bath and a blast of Office Ladies could be just what you need. Photograph: Westend61/Getty Images

A podcast in the bath

I have been working from home full-time since March, but I always pack away my laptop and work phone at the end of the day so that I can “leave work” properly. Before my evening meal, I might have a bath listening to a podcast (Marc Maron and Office Ladies are great for switching off) or watch a quiz show on the telly. The Chase has become a favourite in our house, and playing along really helps us be present in the moment. Jenny Whitham, marketing executive, Manchester

Gaming
Power up … gaming can help you to stay in the moment and forget about work. Photograph: Ezra Bailey/Getty Images

Gaming

One thing I have enjoyed this year is playing games. I played on the PlayStation when I was young, but I stopped asking for games at a certain age; I perhaps felt they weren’t for me any more. This year, I completed The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild on the Nintendo Switch, and it was indescribably brilliant. Playing enabled me to really switch off. I couldn’t tell you how many hours I put into the game, but I enjoyed them all. Some of it was challenging, but I really engaged with it, and I’ll definitely be looking into more games in the future. Kate Harvey, administrator, Plymouth

Parenting

Coming home to my four-year-old daughter is the best means of switching off from work. For me, it’s the instant reality check that puts the stresses and pressures into perspective. Yes, it’s sometimes hard to switch seamlessly into “daddy” mode, but nothing – not a beer nor a long workout – shakes me out of being “work me” in quite the same way. Stephen Jones, NHS manager, London

Limiting screen time

I have had to take the drastic action of deleting the email and messaging apps from my phone. I have also set up screen time limits. This makes me think twice about accessing apps, and if I do choose to use them, it kicks me out after 15 minutes. As a result, my screen time has dropped massively and I feel much better for it. Usually, I would switch off by ice-skating, but that’s not been an option recently, so I am trying to do yoga or bike workouts; otherwise, it’s chilling out with the kids or long walks. Katrina Cliffe, PR and marketing director, Huddersfield

A bike ride ‘commute’

My neighbour and I “cycle to work”: it’s a 30-minute cycle up the local country lane and back, and we arrive home at 9am to start work. At 5pm, we do it again. I use the trip to start and stop work. On the way, we have a chat about plans for the day, the weather and say hello to the cows in the fields. We say good morning to others on their morning walks and notice the leaves on the trees, the birds and the rabbits in the lane. We see the changing seasons and the phase of the moon. Some days I do need to go into work, but I still make time for the trip up the lane. Iain Tullis, research scientist, Oxford

drawing
Draw your own conclusions … sketching can help you unwind. Photograph: katleho Seisa/Getty Images

Drawing

I have always loved art, but was scared to take the plunge and produce my own. I signed up for an online course during lockdown and have been drawing ever since. I now draw every evening after I finish work. I put on noise-cancelling headphones and lose myself. I have imagined my own fictional world and I draw it: anything from gothic architecture to robots shopping for groceries. This escapism has dramatically helped me unwind and improved my mental health. Hours fly by when I am drawing. It’s a form of meditation for me and I would recommend it to anyone. Adam Willoughby, barrister, Leeds

Running

I go running with my neighbour every other day before work for 45 minutes. It wakes you up and you get to see the sun rise. I also do yoga at least twice a week (usually “slow” styles, such as hatha or yin) to slow down in the evening, and I started reading again instead of watching movies. I also love cooking meals with my husband. Leila May, customer service representative, France

Making a list

I try to have a set end time each day, before which I write down the three most important things I need to do the following day. Then I shut down my laptop and do not open it again or check my email until the following morning. I start the next day tackling the three things on my list first. It could be an email I did not get to, or a project I need to finish. If I do have an evening where I need to catch up on emails, I will set them to send the following morning so I am not bothering my colleagues during their personal time. Colleen Madison, marketing manager, Stillwater, Minnesota

Related: ‘I relished the opportunity to reject perfectionism’: readers’ pandemic craft projects

Camomile tea

Exercise is a great way to unwind and clear the stresses of the day, whether it’s a 20-minute jog or a Joe Wicks-style workout to clear the mind. HIIT is quick and effective, especially with kids, but the one I enjoy the most is CrossFit. I think the key is to move. I also purposely put my phone on airplane mode 30 minutes before I go to sleep, allowing myself time to enjoy a camomile tea to relax. Ben James, group marketing executive, Hertford