Establishing a work-life balance is hard, isn’t it?
You show up to the office, put in a full day and then get home only to find more work waiting for you.
Despite the growing number of companies boasting about their work-life culture, things don’t appear to be getting better. In fact, for people around the world, this delicate balancing act is only getting harder, especially for Millennials and those with children.
Learning how to unwind after a long day at work can be immensely beneficial for your health, happiness, as well as your relationship with family and friends.
With a few simple changes to your daily routine, you can learn to cultivate mindfulness, peace, and relaxation at home while enjoying a calmer headspace.
Here are 7 easy things you can do to get one step closer to turning your work-life balance dream into a reality and cultivate a little Zen at home.
How to cultivate Zen at home
1. Keep work outside of your home
Instead of waiting until you get home to unwind from a long work day, begin this process the moment you leave your workspace.
Use your commute home as a time to recalibrate your emotions and check in with how you feel. Become aware if you’re frustrated, stressed, overly excitable or carrying workplace negativity that could be brought into your home.
Before you even get out of the car or walk up the first step, make the conscious effort of letting go of your work day. If it’s been particularly stressful, consider going for a stroll or even walking home from the office.
When you do finally arrive, take a few breaths, pause, and actively release any lingering tension.
If it’s helpful, imagine yourself hanging up each negative emotion you felt earlier on a tree branch outside your home. Just like removing an overcoat, see yourself stripping away any work baggage before walking through your door.
2. Plan some “me time”
It’s easy to get overwhelmed if you leave the office just to come home to more work. On an average day, women spend 2.6 hours and men 2 hours on household tasks.
Household duties including domestic, parental, and yard work are often waiting for you once you get home after a full day at your regular job. It’s easy to get overwhelmed and feel like you can’t keep up.
Whether it’s a quick nap, a yoga class, indulging in a hobby, or a workout at the gym, make time to do something for you. Even if you can only manage 15-30 minutes per day, permit yourself to fully enjoy and embrace this time for yourself.
3. Put your phone down
How many times have you checked your phone today?
It’s a scary question for a lot of people. We are more connected to our phones than ever before. In fact, as a country, Americans check their cellphones 8 billion times on any given day. For the average person, that’s around 46 times in 24 hours and even more if you’re between the ages of 18-34.
Cell phones and digital devices take up lots of your time, and can become sources of sleep disturbance, stress, anxiety, and distraction.
Become aware of how much time you spend surfing the web, social media, or even doing unnecessary tasks for work from your home. Recover the hours lost to mindless web surfing and texting and invest this precious time doing what you love most.
Set boundaries for yourself and make an effort to reduce the amount of times you check your phone. Instead of playing with your digital device, go outside or meet up with friends and family. You’ll find you have more time to be present and nurture real life relationships without a screen separating you.
4. Change out of your work clothes
A good way to distance yourself from work is to quite simply change out of your office clothes. What we wear influences how we think, feel, and act. Which means- if you’re wearing work clothes, you are going to stay in “work mode”.
Get into the habit of putting your office attire away as soon as you get home. Experience the comfort and pleasure that comes with the simple luxury of being in your cozy household apparel. Kick off your heels, unlace your fancy shoes, and bring on the freedom of wearing whatever you want!
5. Set yourself up for tomorrow
Heading out to work each morning can be very stressful. Long commutes, early wake-ups, and feeling rushed create anxiety and tension that can set a negative tone for your day.
Spend a few minutes today to align yourself for success tomorrow. Prepare your lunch and snacks, put out a fresh change of work clothes, make your grocery list while you’re actually in the kitchen. By investing a few minutes organizing today, you can minimize stressful distractions from the early hours of tomorrow.
Reduce stress by simplifying your mornings. Sleep soundly tonight knowing you’re well prepared for the coming day. When you wake up, do so gently, mindfully, and start the day off in a calmer headspace.
6. Mindful activities
Mindfulness helps you become aware of your thoughts and actions. It encourages you take notice of your emotional landscape and thought patterns. By drawing your attention back to the present moment, mindfulness reconnects you with your breath and body.
Gift yourself a break from the hustle and bustle by making time to sit, walk, do yoga, surf, or whatever it is that captivates your full attention. Make it part of your daily routine to designate some time for mindful activities so that you can practice being fully aware and alive at this moment.
Invite mindful practice to your morning meditation, stroll with the dog, or sunset gazing off the porch. Your opportunities to explore mindfulness at home are endless and can become a much-anticipated part of your day thanks to the relaxation and peace they bring.
7. Gratitude journaling
A great way to settle in for the evening is to spend a few moments doing some gratitude journaling. Make a list on your phone, write a journal entry, or simply reflect upon the things that you are appreciative for in this day.
Expressing gratitude has been shown to help promote feelings of overall well-being and is linked with increased life satisfaction. Another great benefit of gratitude journaling is that it has been shown to help improve sleep and makes for both a relaxing and rewarding nighttime activity.
In conclusion, establishing a lasting work-life balance can be very difficult for many people.
Your home should be associated with positive emotions that bring about joy, rest, and relaxation.
By making a few simple changes to how you come back to this familiar space after a long day at work can help you reduce stress, improve your relationships, increase feelings of wellness, and improve the quality of your sleep.
Instead of just rushing in the door and dropping your keys on the table just to start your evening chores, take a few moments to unwind and truly arrive.
Try for yourself. Invite these 7 simple habits into your daily routine and see how you can cultivate Zen at home.
Photo by Drew Coffman