Well-Being//

Small Rituals That Help Us Mark the End of the Workday

Without a clear separation at the end of each day, our days can feel like one long boundaryless continuum.

Halfpoint/ Shutterstock
Halfpoint/ Shutterstock

In pre-pandemic times when many of us had a commute, there was a clear moment each evening that marked the end of the workday. Maybe for you it involved a walk, ride, or drive home, where all it took to melt the stress of the day away was turning up your music or putting on a podcast. But now, for many of us, marking the end of the workday can feel a bit more complicated — especially if you work remotely and your home has become the place to do everything. 

We asked our Thrive community to share with us the small things they do that help them create a separation and mark the end of each workday. Which of these rituals will you try?

Change your outfit

“My favorite thing to do at the end of the workday is change my outfit and wash my face. I may only be changing from one athleisure outfit to another, but the little switch signals to my brain that the workday has ended and my office has now become my home.”

—Blair Kaplan Venables, social media marketing, Pemberton, B.C., Canada

Spend a few minutes outdoors

“My work routine has evolved throughout the lockdown period, and there’s one ritual that helps me unwind after work every day. I step out for a walk at the park nearby and spend time to enjoy the sights, smells, and sounds of nature around me. Turning my attention to mindful walks after work for a few minutes each evening proves to be an effective transition time to ease into the rest of evening to relax, be present, and spend time with my family.”

—Vinutha Narayan, global head, strategic initiatives, San Francisco, CA 

Tidy up the kitchen

“I celebrate the end of my workday by emptying out the dishwasher and tidying up so that the kitchen is all ready for my husband to cook dinner. Sitting down to a proper dinner and family conversation is how I physically and emotionally wrap up a workday.”

—Donna Peters, leadership faculty and coach, Atlanta, GA

Take a virtual yoga class

“I love to mark the end of my workday with a virtual yoga class to keep me accountable to transitioning out of work mode. I’ve been practicing for more than a decade and teaching for over three years, so I really enjoy just being able to show up and have someone else guide my practice. When you work for yourself, it’s easy to fall into the trap of working all the time in some capacity. Getting on the mat forces me to get into my body and out of my head. And opting for live Zoom classes helps me stay connected to a community and feel less alone after working all day.” 

—Maria Eilersen, PR coach, consultant, part-time yoga teacher, Lisbon, Portugal

Work on an art project

“When we started working from home, I bought a painting kit to keep me occupied during my downtime. I’ve now started painting each day after work ends to separate work from play. I have completed three canvases so far! Putting my attention and focus into something that doesn’t involve a computer or my phone screen has allowed me to disconnect at the end of each workday.”

—Kate MacLean, public relations, Vancouver, B.C., Canada

Take your dog for a walk

“At the end of each workday, I take my dogs for a walk and they have so much fun in the park chasing squirrels. Seeing them live in the moment and enjoy the outdoors always nurtures me. As a therapist, I am inside all day, either in my office or by telehealth and being outside with two little loving dogs who enjoy the simple pleasures help me put the stories of the day in perspective. I go inside when the sun goes down and enjoy the rest of the evening with my loved ones. It lets me reset, and separates my work life from my home life.”

—Mary Joye, LMHC, mental health counselor, FL

Turn off your computer and desk light

“At the end of my workday, I mindfully turn off my computer, switch off my desk light, and close the door behind me, leaving my work behind the door before I head downstairs to greet my 8-year-old daughter. Gearing up for the big ‘I am so happy you are home’ hugging my daughter never fails!”

—Blandine Lacroix, life science executive, Princeton, N.J.

Take a bath

“At the end of the day, I put away the dishes and take a warm bath. I know at that moment my workday is done. I am free to think, dream or create whatever I want. I let my heart decide whether to settle into a book, edit photos, listen to a podcast, watch a movie, or pray.”

—Carole Dupré, founder and career coach, Mandeville, LA

Try a breathing exercise

“When my workday ends, I make an effort to close my laptop and notebook, briefly tidy up my desk, and then pause to do a few transition breaths. While breathing, I recognize the end of my workday and focus on the release through my breaths. I also set my intention for how I want to show up in my next activity, which is family time.”

—Deirdre Mellotte, HRBP, Dublin, Ireland

Take a mindful break and immerse yourself in a “Meditative Story” here.

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