30 Apr Top 5 tips to help you switch off from work and restore
It is not unusual for us to find it difficult to switch off from work and restore our bodies and minds. Developments in technology mean that we often feel like we are on-call 24 hours a day and cannot disconnect to the various sources of media that are bombarding us from the minute we wake up to the minute we go to bed. We turn on our phones in the morning and we are welcomed to the new day by a string of emails from colleagues updating us on business performance, notifying us of a problem we need to fix or our bosses requesting meetings with us. It is enough to send us into an immediate tailspin of frazzle and overwhelm.
This inability to restore, however, is not only detrimental to our health, it is counter productive to our ability to perform at our best when we are in the workplace. We are not machines and we need time to recharge and recover if we are to perform at our best.
Let’s talk about stress…
Let’s start by talking about stress. When we feel over connected and overwhelmed by the amount of work we have to do, our bodies release a chemical called cortisol. Cortisol puts us into a state of stress when cortisol hangs around in our body for too long it has a bunch of pretty drastic effects. Not only can it lead to a diminished immune system and leave us more susceptible to illness and burnout, it also has a horrific impact on our emotional state and our ability to stay focused. Without switching off, we are not giving our bodies chance to get rid of the dreaded cortisol, recover and recharge so we can perform at our best.
In addition to us impacting our ability to perform at our best, the inability to switch off is impacting our relationships. We might be more connected to technology but we are certainly less connected to the people around us and it is stopping us from cultivating deep, meaningful relationships which is proven as one of the greatest sources of our overall happiness.
We are also losing missing out on the ability to connect with there world around us. By continuing on this never ending loop of work, sleep, repeat what are we missing? the chance to look up and engage with the world around us. The sunrises, the changing seasons, the smell of our morning coffee…the little things that add up to our experience of the world around us.
What’s the solution?
So, below I have outlined by top 5 tips for switching off from work to restore so you can start to engage more with the world, boost your happiness and actually elevate your performance when you are in the workplace!
#1 Create a ritual that signifies the end of your working day. For example, I encourage my clients to go for a walk, change their clothes, put on some music etc. Something that changes your state from alert and responsive to relaxed and off duty!
#2 Implement an evening phone ban so you can be present with your partner, the people you are spending time with or with whichever activity you choose to spend your time! e.g. I would encourage to turn your phone off after 9pm. Not only will this allow you to be truly present, it will also increase your chances of gaining some quality sleep. And if you use your phone as an alarm…buy an alarm clock!
#3 Introduce a hobby into your evenings that will distract you from work. e.g. I suggest for clients to think about a skill they’d like to develop or a hobby they enjoyed as a child. When you find something new and exciting, you are more likely to be totally mindful and focused on the task at hand that to be distracted and sucked into checking work emails.
#4 Devise a morning routine that allows you to prime yourself for the day before you check your emails and become sidetracked by the challenges you will encounter at work. It has been proven that how we spend the first 90 minutes of each day, have a significant impact on our mood and mindset for the rest of our day. The emails and challenges will still be there for you to deal with when you get into the office but give yourself a better chance of success by focusing in the morning on the things that will boost your mindset. e.g. Try any combination of exercise, getting outside, reading, journalling, eating a healthy breakfast, engaging with your partner etc
#5 My fifth and favourite tip is meditation! Always meditation! Meditation does not have to be difficult, it can be as simple as taking ten deep breaths when you are feeling stressed and overwhelmed. By getting out of your head and focusing on your breath you immediately start to reverse the flow of cortisol and restore your body. Meditation is the act of observing your thoughts for a really short period of time so you are less distracted and pushed around by them for the rest of the day. Building a meditation practice means that you will be more focused when you are in the work place and less reactive and distracted by work related thoughts when you are at home.
Remember that we are human beings and like top athletes, if we do not give ourselves chance to restore, we will never be able to perform at our best and will eventually burn out. This is a fact and so give yourself the best chance of success and incorporate some of the above tips into your daily routine to allow your body and mind chance to reset, recharge and come back stronger and better than ever.
More tips on how to switch off and restore can be found here.