Work can be stressful.

Long commutes with even longer workweeks makes the daily grind just that – a grind.

Working 9-5 is hard for many of us, but when work follows us home every night and plagues us all weekend we have to find a way to unwind, destress, and get solid rest. Being mindful of your own mental health and well being will not only make you happier, but it will also help you perform better at work, as a parent, and as a friend.

Today, we will explore five simple steps to unwind form work!

1. Turn off email alerts!

Email is the number one time waster for most at work after social media (more on that later). For starters, the issue with email is that we THINK we are being productive by checking our inbox, sending out emails, and decluttering emails. But really we are keeping ourselves busy.

Tim Ferriss, author of The Four Hour Workweek is a huge advocate of using email systems and limits to prevent inundating yourself with email overload. While email is one thing at work, it is an entirely differnt ballgame if you are constantly checking your email at home and on the weekends.

There will always be an email to respond to. Most workplaces have a 48 hour business day respond rule, which means you don’t HAVE to reply ASAP. The worst thing you can do is read that not so good email on Friday night that spoils your entire weekend.

Instead, make a rule that you WILL NOT CHECK EMAIL after 1:00 on Fridays until Monday morning!

2. Go for a walk at work & at home.

Something I have personally adopted at work and at home is walking. In addition to running and exercising, I started walking for 15 minutes during my lunch break without my phone. Just taking a quick stroll around the building a few times and soaking up some Vitamin D is a huge help to our mental pysch.

After work, I do the same with my wife and our dog. This gives us a chance to disconnect from the day, talk about things, be one with nature for even a moment (also, more on that later too), and get some exercise. Walking is not just a great exercise for health pruposes, but it also allows you to take a moment and unwind.

Get your head off things, get outside, and go for a walk!

3. Leave work at home on the weekends.

I know, I know, you have too much to do so you have to take work home on the weekends. But stop! Your mental health wants you to.

Chances are, there will always be more work to do! You will never get it all done. And even when you think you do, you will realize you have something else left. If you work 40 hours a week, you should be able to get your stuff done in those 40 hours in most cases.

Taking work home could actually be what is preventing you from getting better with time management at work. A good friend of mine is a roofing business owner and found himself working around the clock seven days a week a few years back.

He decided to put a stop to it and listed his business hours as closed on the weekends. He will work Saturday until noon, but after that, he takes time for himself and doesn’t do business things until Monday morning. My friend stated that he had to get away from work at least for the weekend and that most people aren’t buying roofs Sunday anyway.

4. Relax with nature.

Research shows that people who live by nature and are more involved with nature are happier. In fact, there are actually some studies that link urban dwelling to psychopathy tendencies (not kidding) and state that getting those people involved with nature can help.

Nature therapy.

While you might think that landscaping your yard is a chore, or adventuring out into the woods to camp is a bit much, these things have been shown to help people mentally distress. Getting outside can help release the feel-good chemicals and also help you with appreciation. It is not a coincidence that most yoga and zen approaches involve nature, it’s because it actually has spiritual healing-like powers!

Get outside to unwind! You can exercise outside, plant a garden, explore, camp, you name it. Also, consider using this list to find fun things to do with friends if you want to do other things besides being one with nature!

5. Practice gratitude

Heavy metal bands like to break things and some people prefer demo work or exercise to unwind physically, but a more simple approach to quickly unwind is to just to practice gratitude.

Practicing gratitude shifts your mindset from a “What is wrong” mindset to a “What is good” mindset in a hurry. Think about it. Instead of complaining about your job or workload, you can practice gratitude and recognize that at least you have a job and steady work to make money.

Or perhaps your commute is stressing you out, instead of complaining about it, instead you can be grateful you get to work from home one day a week, knowing that some people never get to work from home. Here is an idea to help you with gratitude:

Write down one thing you are grateful for daily, it just has to be different every day!

Doing this will train your brain to look for what is good and right, instead of always looking for what is wrong.

The Verdict –

In the end the choice is always yours, even if you don’t think it is! Simply finding five minutes here and there to practice some gratitude or take a walk can help you unwind from work. As we part, think of this simple equation to help you:

E + R = O

Event, plus your response, equals the outcome.

Most people often focus on the event [which they don’t control] instead of focusing on their response [which they do control] and ultimately this leads to poor outcomes. Instead, focus on your response to every event – be it work, relationships, or whatever else – and you will be pleasantly surprised!