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Find it tough to wind down after a demanding workday? Try these 10 strategies for shifting from office to home mode:
1. Leave work at the office. Resolve to not bring work home in the evening (or limit it to two nights a week if absolutely necessary).
2. Wind down your workday early. About two hours before you leave work, make a list of what you need to accomplish before you go and what you'll tackle tomorrow. You'll have ample time to complete your tasks and can leave feeling like you've wrapped up your day productively -- which leaves less fodder for after-work worry.
3. Have a front-door catchall. Buy a large basket or wooden box to place near your door. Immediately stash your briefcase or work bag there when you walk in the door; don't pick it up again until the next morning.
4. Sit quietly. Before you begin dinner, head to the gym, or pick up your kids, take three to five minutes to close your eyes and breathe deeply. Imagine drawing air into your stomach and exhaling fully. This allows you to clear your mind and empty out the workday stress.
5. Write it down. If a particularly difficult situation at work has made it nearly impossible to relax once you're home, grab a pen and a piece of paper. Write about the incident -- without lifting your pen from the paper -- for three minutes. When you're done venting on paper, tear up the sheet and throw it away.
6. Establish a ritual. Having a routine that you follow every day can help you switch your mindset from work to home. Talk about your kids' days at school as you sit around the kitchen table, or drink a giant glass of lemonade -- pick something you can look forward to every day, as the "official" start of your evening.
7. Reduce clutter. A cluttered home can be overwhelming, make you feel as if you're out of control, and magnify the stresses of the day. Take five minutes before bed each night to straighten up, so you'll have a pleasantly tidy house to come home to tomorrow.
8. Pipe in music. Invest in a portable CD player and pop in your favorite tunes while you fix dinner, pay bills, or do laundry. Upbeat, enjoyable music will make your chores more fun.
9. Schedule chores judiciously. If you expect to do laundry, dishes, and bills in one night, you'll likely feel anxious about getting it all done. Instead, schedule each chore for a different night, or save them for the weekend and simply relax after work.
10. Make your commute enjoyable. Listen to a book on tape or a favorite CD, or use your time on the bus or train to read one chapter of a new novel. Even a few minutes of doing something that makes you happy helps to diffuse the day's stressors.