In a world where interconnectivity is always at our fingertips, many people are finding it difficult to separate their work life from their personal lives. This has led to even hourly workers living with an “always-on” mentality. But when you don’t unplug properly, you’re bound to find your energy drained.
This is what’s known as workplace burnout. Fatigue affects the mental health of workers, which in turn affects the productivity of the businesses they work for. Both employees and employers, as well as the self-employed, need to learn about best practices to prevent this kind of stress build-up and its detrimental effects.
No one is immune. In fact, 81% of office workers claim they still check their work email repeatedly from home after hours. Even if you don’t complete work from home, you should know how to decompress and destress after every work period to help strike the right balance between you and “work you”!
Let’s explore some techniques to help you cross that tightrope as smoothly as possible…
Your body and mind are creatures of habit. Creating a post-work ritual will help train them to relax and start to turn off the noise of workplace stress.
Your ritual can be anything that signals to you that work is done for the day. Try changing your phone to silent, or do-not-disturb. Watch an episode of that show you’ve been trying to catch up on. Pick up some groceries and get a start on an enjoyable meal.
Your ritual can be whatever you choose, the point is to turn turning off into a long term habit.
What do you do first thing to unwind?
Know Your Limit. Work Within It.
Setting boundaries for yourself is one surefire way to ease the anxiety of feeling like you’re on-call for putting out any fires at work.
Be honest with your coworkers about what your boundaries are. They may not be grasped intuitively, but a good team will respect your needs, because, when they do, you bring your best to the team!
If you need to take time for yourself, explain that you will be unreachable, or advise them that you really need a proper break after your shift. If they’ve ever been stressed about work themselves, they’ll surely understand and appreciate how important it is to clock out properly!
What do you tell your coworkers about reaching out after hours?
Keep Your Goals Within Reach
A huge part of being able to leave the stress at the office is minimizing your stress in general. Don’t overpromise on goals and projects, or your anxiety will follow you home!
Keep the same mentality when you set personal goals. If you want to make changes to your routine, including breaking bad work habits, be kind to yourself. Commit to easy, incremental changes instead of trying to fix everything at once.
Maybe you can’t give up working through the weekend entirely, but you CAN commit to a shorter work day, or only certain tasks. Don’t overwhelm yourself trying to stop overwhelming yourself!
What’s your work-life balance objective?
Keep Your Correspondence During Working Hours
Depending on the nature of your job, this may be impossible. Emergencies happen, and if you’re made aware then you should definitely respond as needed.
That said, when it comes to setting a precedent for yourself (and others at your workplace!), don’t reply to emails after hours. Even if you’re keeping abreast of what’s going, feeling like you need to run to deal with every little inquiry or comment will leave you feeling addled.
Remember, your goal is to unplug when you’re done for the day. So when you’re done, let yourself be done!
Do you have a system for getting “emergency” notifications?
Use Those Vacation Days!
Many workers are under the impression that they can impress others by never taking time off. But there’s a reason that vacation days are allotted in every job. Taking time off to take care of yourself has statistically shown improvements in employee performance.
Maybe you think that your business can’t afford to lose you for a week or two. If that’s the case, try a 3 day weekend, or picking out slow days to allow yourself proper, uninterrupted downtime. Your mental and physical health will thank you for it.
What’s your next vacation plan?
Mute Your Phone
Even if you check every so often for new messages, calls, and emails, if you are aware of every single notification, you’ll never be able to enjoy your downtime.
Remember, your personal time belongs to you. Checking in on work issues should be at your discretion, not work’s. It also eats into the time you get for yourself, as you are constantly flipping back to see what the latest news is.
How often do you find yourself checking work notifications when off-duty?
Power Down Those Devices
Finding it hard to disconnect from your devices? Is your laptop pulling you towards it? Your cellphone hypnotising you into checking your emails for the 50th time?
Unplug your electronics so you can unplug your mind! Going analog for a certain period of time during your downtime is a guaranteed destressing strategy.
Just like you need to minimize distractions so you can focus on your work during work hours, so too do you need to minimize distractions when you’re trying to distract yourself from work-related stress!
What do you need to put down to unplug from work?
Phew! Reading this article sure was a lot of work. Time to take these tips and get to unwinding the right way!