Switching Off


switching off

Dictionary definition for switching off:

“Cease to pay attention.”


I want to be able to switch off; is a common statement from my clients as they unravel what is holding them back from doing more of what they love.

In this article I want to explore:

  • What does it mean to switch off?
  • Why do you need to learn how to do it?
  • The cost of not switching off
  • Inside stories
  • Next steps

What does it mean to switch off?

Switch off for many of my clients is about switching off the never ending to do list, that is whirring around in your head. That never ending nag, that there is still something you ‘should’ be doing. That feeling of guilt in the pit of your stomach if you stop for even a moment. Some worry if they stop they will lose momentum and their sparkle. So they keep on keeping on.

Why do you need to learn to switch off?

It is poor for your health and your relationships. When your head is that full your body is often being fueled by stress chemicals. You will lack patience and tolerance to listen to those that matter to you and you will even lack patience and tolerance with yourself. Your self talk and even external talk will be mostly focused on what is not working which in itself can damage the part of your brain that you depend on to problem solve. It has been scientifically proven that when we listen to someone talking negatively for 30 minutes or more it damages the part of our brain that we depend on to solve problems.

The cost of not switching off

When we are in overwhelm we rarely think clearly or make good decisions. Many of the decisions are made to bring instant relief rather than good for us in the long term. We over eat or under eat. We don’t exercise and take care of our health. We snap at those we love and we always seem too busy to be approached and so important conversations are put off over and over again until eventually the relationships fall into crisis.

Inside stories

For many years I have coached and mentored women predominantly to do more of what they love. Some discovered that much of what they did they loved; but it was the self talk and the busyness of their head that meant they were not really present in the moment fully appreciating the experience. Instead their head was full of guilt or fear of failure. They would be at home with family and feel guilty about work and at work they would feel guilty they were not with family. One client found it incredibly hard to take time off. The more we explored this at the Clarity retreat she took time out to lay on the sofa and allow herself to fully rest. She really liked it as her body rested and all the tension released and she was present in her own body for that moment. She discovered that she had told herself a story that resting was lazy. The only time she gave herself permission to rest was on the sunbed on holiday but now she was sick of racing into her holiday exhausted and returning to the mayhem of life. That day she changed the story she told herself and now regularly takes short bursts of time to lay on her bed and ‘recharge’. She no longer sees stopping as being lazy and recognises it as part of her process to work, learn and live at her best.

Next steps

When I work with my clients I invite them to consider what would be happening if they were:

  • Working at their best?
  • Learning at their best?
  • Living at their best?

I have never yet heard a response that did not include time to rest, restore and recharge. There has never been a model that did not require time to process; time to think and time to reflect.

In a world where we never lack stimuli, suggestions and ideas we often lack natural breaks. Instead we have to learn to create them for ourselves and we have to learn to manage our emotional responses as we create the change we want.

In my latest book; Do, Delegate or Ditch – Developing the confidence to ask for help without fear of failure or guilt I reveal the six core models and six core skills that my clients discovered they needed to do more of what they loved and love what they had to do. You can pre-order your copy here.

The more I work with clients to explore their process, the more resourced they become to listen to and manage themselves and others through change. Please do check out the Clarity and Confidence retreats and give yourself time to think.


Sheryl Andrews (aka The Listening Detective)

Founder of Step by Step Listening, Sheryl Andrews has always been keen to create space where other people felt safe to speak their truth no matter what that was. She is well known for her ability to motivate, manage and mentor others through change and loves nothing more than helping others feel heard and understood. She soon discovered there were 8 different kinds of listening and often people started talking without knowing which they needed. At Step by Step Listening they create space to explore what kind of listening works to ensure individuals are resourced to work, learn and live at their best with others and on their own. .

For regular updates and examples of how listening skills can resource you to manage yourself, time and others through change check out Free Success without stress newsletter


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Published By

Sheryl Andrews, Founder of Step by Step Listening is well known for her fast speaking and highly motivational passion. But what many of you may not know is that in private behind closed doors she was also no stranger to lapses in self belief and an overwhelming sense of not being good enough. Sheryl use to find it difficult when criticised even when she knew they meant well and found it difficult to respond rather than react. A series of 3 events in her personal life exaggerated her emotional overwhelm and forced her to address this problem and conquer her sensitivity to criticism. Today she shares every day stories of every day people and inspires you to discover ways to gain clarity and confidence to change the way feedback and criticism impacts your performance.

View all posts by Sheryl Andrews →

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