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March 10, 2021

End your day the feierabend way

I recently read a word that has two meanings – ‘feierabend’ – apparently the German word for the moment you end work for the day, and also the part of the day between stopping work and going to bed. I don’t know the German language, but the internet tells me it’s pronounced ‘fire-arbent’.

This word has me wondering about how I stop work for the day and how I spend my hours between then and bedtime. How about you? You do have hours between work and bedtime, don’t you?

We’ve all been working from home or mixing home and workplace (‘hybrid working’ is the fancy term for it), so it can be more tempting than ever to do a little work on an evening. How many times have you found yourself “just finishing off a couple of things” or “getting a head start before tomorrow”?

Of course, some people choose to work later on because it suits them better. But if we’re going to have a good break for our minds and rest for our bodies, we probably all know that we need to do something different in our time before bed.

We’re all trying to stay well, so stopping work for the day and switching off our work phone and emails is pretty important right now. We need some rest or downtime or time with the family. If we’ve been home-schooling or are caring for someone, that time could involve a break on our own as well as time with our loved ones.

So maybe start by noticing how many times you check work emails or text when you’re not actually ‘at work’. How often does your ‘feierabend’ time actually mean the end of your working day? Then think: is there at least one evening a week you can really keep for yourself – no phone, no work? What would you like to do in that time?

As we look to more workplaces starting to reopen, the shift to hybrid working could increase. So now might be a good time to think about our home working routine and habits to help us have a good work/life balance.

If you want to read more about feierabend, a BBC Worklife article talks about what it means to German workers. For ideas to help you work well and look after yourself, see MindWell’s Self-care to stay well whilst working from home’.

Let’s hope we can all learn to keep work in its place, even if we are more home-based now and in future. After all, our being well means we can do our jobs well too – good for us and our employers!

Gillian Schofield
Monitoring and evaluation assistant, Time to Shine