A guest post by Maria, blogger at The Southerner Blogs.
One of the most important factors to think about when considering wellbeing is our work-life balance. It makes sense – we spend a staggering amount of time at our places of employment. Just this year, a survey revealed that a quarter of the British population works a 40+ hour week. The same survey also found that over half of British office workers felt that their employment negatively affected their work-life balance. That’s a sizeable chunk of the British population experiencing a staggering amount of dissatisfaction!
As well as this, there are new challenges to leaving work at work in our modern times – the Internet, the cloud and off-site working mean that for most of us, our work can follow us home in the form of laptops and emails. Understandably, this can make it even more difficult for us to detach from ‘work mode’ even when we’re in the comforts of our own home. We know that getting that balance is important for both our physical and mental health. Burnout is a real and rising issue in modern offices.
As a therapist, I regularly work with people who are struggling to find that balance in the face of all kinds of obstacles. Whilst we all face challenges unique to us that prevent us from switching off from work, there are some key tips that all of us can take into consideration to help us achieve this:
- Exercise… after work!
I know a lot of people who exercise before they go to work. This has some amazing benefits for your mind and your body and it’s a fantastic way to really kick-start the day. However, if you’re finding that you are carrying a lot of stress about work on your shoulders and finding it hard not to ruminate about work-related issues even at home, it may be worth switching your gym routine up. Exercise is a great way to occupy the mind but also a really good way to physically work through the stresses of the day, helping you to channel that anxious energy into something positive and strengthening. If you’re not exercising at the moment – it may be worth finding some exercise you can do for 20-40 minutes after work. Be mindful that it is recommended you don’t exercise too close to your bedtime, which may make this a difficult tip to follow if you’re working very late hours!
- Detach from your devices!
This is an obvious one, but unless you’re getting paid to look at your emails or to top up notes at your dining room table every evening after work – don’t do it. Detach yourself from any work-issued devices to help you with this process. Due to advances in technology and the ability to work flexibly from home, a lot of people do end up doing the bulk of their work from their homes. If you are doing this, be strict with the times you clock in and out. As much as flexi-working opportunities do benefit you, they also benefit employers because research has shown that people will often work longer if they’re working from home.
- Feed your soul – set and follow personal goals.
We all have work-related goals, right? We have our annual appraisals or probationary periods and in adjunct to that, we’re writing down and actively trying to work towards various performance goals. One great way to switch off from those pressures is to sit down and start thinking about your own life goals. What do you want to achieve in the next week, month, year? How could you make that happen? What is going to make you happy? What do you need to do to find out what might make you happy? We know that those who cope best with stressful times at work are often those who can get a sense of achievement from other areas in their lives. This might mean pursuing a hobby, connecting with loved ones or even taking time for job hunting!
- Arrange activities after work…
Much like the first tip, it really helps to have a buffer between leaving the office and starting your evening free of work. During stressful periods, it can be helpful to have distractions after work. It can be as simple as a mindful walk or meeting someone for a catch-up. It can also be other solitary yet relaxing activities – such as a bath or taking time out for your hobby. It makes a world of difference to your day and your week if you have things to look forward to outside of work!