How to switch off from work during non-working hours

Feeling worked up even after work is over? A psychologist shares the difference between rest and recovery and how they help recharge employees.
By: | February 9, 2024

Trying to switch off from work mode after work hours? It might be more difficult that it sounds, as stress from work may affect employees more than during the work day.

According to Guy Winch, a psychologist and host of the TED Talk “How to turn off work thoughts during your free time, employees are unable to spend time to reflect on what is upsetting them during working hours when it happens, but do so when there is a lull period, which most likely happens outside of work hours.

The solution to reduce these intrusive thoughts and fully recover from a stressful workday is not to rest, but to keep your mind actively focused on other matters.  

“People think of recovery as rest,” Winch shared with CNBC Making it! “We just plant ourselves in front of a screen of any size and zone out. While resting is useful and important, it’s only one piece of the puzzle. Recovering also requires us to recharge.”  

Winch cautioned employees to rest and recharge with purpose, which means shifting from a work mindset to another type of mindset, which means engaging in an activity that will let the employee in question become absorbed. “To recharge we need to do things that are personally fulfilling,” Winch explained, citing examples such as working out for 30 minutes or painting.

READ MORE: Mental health of employees impacted by work from home arrangements

“Usually we are tired and we don’t want to do stuff, but almost everyone has had the experience of thinking, ‘Oh god, I don’t want to do that,’ and even though you’re tired you feel more refreshed afterward,” said Winch, citing that recharging would mean being less pestered by work thoughts.“When you have a good recovery you sleep better and wake up better the next day.”