No more brooding: seven ways to switch off

Tight deadlines, enormous workloads, big challenges: Sometimes the job just won't let you go, even in your free time. How do you get the work out of your head?

Demanding occupation: It helps against lonely brooding if you are a little active yourself. Exercising outdoors or learning a new job can help

© Plainpicture GmbH / Dieter Schewig

Have you ever dreamed of work? From your overflowing mailbox or from the presentation you have been moving around on the screen for days? When the job really challenges you, you can often no longer switch off properly, even when you are supposed to be resting. Sometimes work even haunts you in your sleep. It's pretty stressful and unhealthy in the long run. But there are ways out of the loop.

Stay calm

This is often easier said than done. Once you start worrying about work, it often grows on its own. Then you should deliberately take a step back in order to assess things realistically, advises Utz Niklas Walter, head of the Institute for Workplace Health Advice (IFBG).

A method called "decastrophizing" can be used for this purpose: you classify the things that are bothering you on a scale from one to ten. There is one small problem with this - for example, that the washing machine has not been turned on. And ten is the worst problem, a death in the family for example.

"The missed train feels like an eight at first. But if you classify the whole thing realistically and take into account that there will be another train in an hour, for example, then it might be a three," explains Walter. "This technique helps many to mentally tick things off faster."

Another tip for staying calm sounds almost too simple: breathe. "You can use the one-to-one breathing technique," advises Walter and explains: "For example, you breathe in through your nose for three seconds and exhale through your mouth for just as long." With a little practice, this will help you control your mood.

draw boundaries

So that worries don't get out of hand, it is important to draw boundaries. In terms of thought, but also in terms of space and time, as advised Utz Niklas Walter from the IFBG. He recommends the brooding chair technology: To do this, you look for a place in the apartment that you only go to brood. "This technology should help to stop thinking about things everywhere and all the time, but only in a certain place at certain times."

While thinking, you can take notes, which then remain by the brooding chair. Walter emphasizes: Thinking on the brooding chair should be as problem-solving as possible, not worrying. This technique takes practice. Walter recommends training for about four weeks and only then assessing whether the method is suitable for you.

Another possibility is the so-called countdown method: You decide to consciously think about what is on your mind for a limited time, about five minutes. After that, the brooding is over.

Create clarity

So that you don't think about your work all the time, it is important to ensure that the situation is clear. For example, by setting fixed working hours for yourself. "It doesn't have to be from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.," emphasizes Walter. "But the time window should suit you, your own biorhythm and, of course, the requirements of the employer and then be adhered to."

During the lunch break and late at night, Walter advises switching the cell phone to flight mode. "" Even private messages can lead to an overload. "

Maintain contacts

Career coach Ute Bölke advises anyone who notices that they are stuck in a constant loop of stress and worries, shouldn't deal with it on their own. "It's best to talk to friends, colleagues and also the boss about it." She also recommends avoiding contact with people who drag you down as much as possible - or balance them out as much as possible through beneficial contacts.

Walter also says: "Not everyone will be successful on their own." Sometimes you need the support of friends or your partner, if they agree. Sometimes professional help may also be needed.

Be active

Switching off does not just mean lying on the couch as motionless as possible and letting yourself be showered. "You should consciously plan small events with others where you consciously don't talk about work," advises Walter.

He also advises offline hobbies: "Puzzles, handicrafts, knitting, origami - be creative." Coach Bölke also considers distraction in the form of sport and exercise to be important, from walking to yoga: "There are thousands of possibilities."

Develop rituals

Rituals can also help with switching off. These can be very simple things, as Bölke explains. "You can get into the habit of always opening a window during the break: fresh air for the body and the mind." It is just as important to leave your desk tidy after work is done.

taking notes

So that you don't have to keep everything in mind, you should take notes. According to Bölke, a to-do list that you write down for the next day before you go home can help you worry less about these things. It can also be helpful to listen inside and write down your worries.

The next step is then to reprogram the bad thoughts like "I can't make it". This means that whenever this thought occurs, one thinks instead, for example, "Step by Step". For example, you can do something that you definitely do the next day. Then, step by step, the list becomes shorter - and the worries become less.