Five Strategies to Stop Thinking About Work Outside of the Office

It’s very common to think about work outside of the office. However, oftentimes, that time spent thinking about work turns into stressing about work. And, although work stress is inevitable, too much of it can affect your sleep and overall quality of daily life. Sleep deprivation can lead to negative impacts on cognitive functions such as judgment, critical thinking, problem solving, planning, and organization. 

So, what can you do to stop thinking about work outside of the workplace? Rebecca Zucker of Harvard Business Review outlined five strategies to get better sleep so you will wake up refreshed and ready to tackle the challenges of your workday.

Make a To-Do List

Research indicates that making a to-do list before going to sleep is as effective as taking a sleeping pill and can even prevent middle-of-the-night wake-ups. Instead of lying in bed thinking about all the tasks you need to accomplish the next day, your to-do list can act as an outlet to clear your mind of overwhelming thoughts. 

The actual act of writing down these uncompleted tasks decreases cognitive arousal, rumination, and worry, allowing you to rest and be organized for your workday. If you wake up remembering something you need to do, keep a pen and paper handy so you can add it to the list and quickly get back to your much-needed REM state.


Journaling is a proven way to offload stressful and worrisome thoughts and feelings. The physical act of writing them down helps process emotions and reduces stress and anxiety. This is because it requires a greater level of psychological processing than mere thinking alone.

Another tip to reduce stress is to write down positive events and things for which you are grateful, no matter how small. Most people will sleep better if they do this a few times a week before bedtime, and it will help take the focus away from the negatives in their daily lives.

Practice Self-Compassion

Self-compassion means showing yourself the same kindness, care, and concern you would show a good friend. Practicing self-compassion assists with the management of stress and worry by allowing you to break the cycle of negative thoughts and self-judgment. This practice combats symptoms of insomnia, thereby enabling you to feel more rested. 


Even just 30 minutes of daily physical activity can have a significant impact on your sleep quality. Not only does exercise improve sleeping habits, it also decompresses the mind. It’s a simple yet very effective way to reduce stress naturally, not to mention your overall health.


Meditation, also referred to as mindfulness, is the practice of being fully present and focusing your attention on thoughts, feelings, and bodily sensations without judgment. The goal of meditation is to be fully present in the moment without any distracting thoughts filling up your mind. 

The positive, stress-reducing mental effects of practicing mindfulness have been extensively shown through research. Try it for just 10 minutes a day to sleep better and reduce your overall stress level..

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You can read more about How to Stop Thinking About Work at 3 am at Harvard Business Review