How To Switch Off, Unwind And De-Stress After Work

9 Ways To Switch Off And Unwind After Work

Do you find yourself checking your work emails on the way home from the office or responding to messages as you're getting into bed?

The explosion of social media and the rise of smartphones has led to the invasion our private relaxation time and blurred the boundaries between work and home. Our bosses and colleagues can 'virtually' get into bed with us, so it's little wonder if we wake up dreaming about them.

In light of new evidence that constantly checking mobile devices such as smartphones and laptops is having an impact on the nation's stress levels, companies are now being urged to encourage their staff to 'switch off' when they leave work.

Psychologist Richard Balding, who led the research said: "Smartphone use is increasing at a rapid rate and we are likely to see an associated increase in stress from social networking.

"Organisations will not flourish if their employees are stressed, irrespective of the source of stress, so it is in their interest to encourage their employees to switch their phones off, cut the number of work emails sent out of hours and reduce people's temptation to check their devices."

So how do we take advantage of the professional and social benefits of being 'switched on' without allowing technology to impact on our health and emotional wellbeing?

"This is all about self-awareness and setting healthy boundaries," says Dr Nerina Ramlakhan, Sleep and Energy Coach at Capio Nightingale Hospital and author of Tired But Wired.

"Our brain, in particular the frontal lobe and those areas involved in information processing, is simply not designed to cope with the volume of incoming 'technology traffic' due to the limitations of the size of the working memory."

She adds: "Of greatest relevance is the 'ultradian cycle'. This is the 90-minute oscillating cycle that governs our patterns of rest and activity, our ability to concentrate, sleep well and so many other vital physiological processes. When we work against this cycle - for example, never taking breaks, constantly staring at a screen and trying to take in information - the memory process becomes disrupted. This disruption takes the form of stress, impaired concentration and even negative emotions such as anger as levels of stress hormones such as adrenaline kick in."

Here, Dr Ramlakhan offers her top tips on how to unplug and recharge: