As 2018 starts to wrap up, I am sure you are feeling overworked and as we area approaching the final weeks you may even have feel haunted at the thought. As any.BODY Studio has started to grow I have had to work hard at maintaining a work life balance. As a business owner I am fortunate enough to have control over how I spend my time, but the downfall of this is also feeling like you are ‘on’ all the time, feeling like something always has to be done and never truly finding time away. Over the last two weeks I have felt the wrath of the last 10 months. I am feeling fatigued and looking forward to a break. It got me thinking, how on earth do we do this all the time? Everyone is overworked and the first thing to fly out the window when work becomes a priority is our health. I did some research and this is what I found.
Good habits, not holidays, are the answer.
Australians work very long hours compared to workers in other developed countries. But evidence shows that employees who work more than 48 hours per week, or are overcommitted or over-invested in their work tend to have have poorer cardiovascular health than other workers.
In fact, long work hours increase risk of dying from cardiovascular heart disease, risk to family functioning, injury at work, smoking intensity, anxiety, digestive problems, and alcohol abuse.
So if we need to work long hours, what can we do to recover?
Common wisdom suggests that having holidays is important for restoring wellbeing and re-engagement in your work. After all, you’re spending time with your friends or family, doing the things that you enjoy. Best of all, you’re not at work.
However, research has shown that the benefits of a holiday tend to last only two to four weeks. After that, you’re left just as burned out as you were before your holiday.
So instead of having large breaks every few months or once a year, it’s better to incorporate simple recovery practices into your everyday routine.
Psychological detachment is defined as “an individual’s sense of being away from the work situation” and is crucial to recovery from daily work stress, giving us the energy to face the next work day.
Modern-day work demands like long hours and mobile technology interfere the recovery process by inhibiting our ability to psychologically detach from work-related thoughts. But there are a number of ways one can consciously shift away from thoughts of work and psychologically detach.
Avoiding work emails at home or incorporating rituals like changing out of your work clothes can signal the end of the working day and aid the mental transition away from work.
After that, getting absorbed in enjoyable and challenging activities such as sports, exercise, or creative pursuits have all been found to be useful. But they can only help you psychologically detach if you’re fully immersed in the activity, replacing negative job-related thoughts. On the other hand rituals of ‘watching television’ or immersing yourself in technology has been found to keep you detached to your negative job-related thoughts even if this is at an unconscious level.
There’s no single type of after-work activity that suits everyone. Your recovery activity simply needs to enable experiences that will aid with psychological detachment from work. I often have clients tell me that their reformer pilates practice assists in their detachment from work. Spending 45 minutes at the end of the day, breathing and focusing on movement enables you to completely detach your thoughts of work and in the end assists with recovery, mental clarity and stress release.
While at work
There are also activities you can do during the work day to reduce stress and aid recovery.
To help reduce nagging thoughts of “unfinished business”, plan and organise your work day. Develop a clear picture of what you can realistically get done during the day, and don’t start a new task shortly before leaving work.
While at work
There are also activities you can do during the work day to reduce stress and aid recovery. Drinking enough water, staying off your phone when eating your lunch, finding open spaces/parks to each your lunch are all simple ‘good habits’ that can help to help reduce nagging thoughts of “unfinished business”. Develop a clear picture of what you can realistically can get done during the day, set a time you wish to leave work by and don’t start a new task shortly before leaving work
With many serious health risks associated with overworking, a vacation once or even twice a year may not be enough to protect yourself from the debilitating effects of work stress.
We should all try to keep our work hours in check. But if it’s not possible to work less than 48 hours per week, we can manage our work days, and our home life, to aid recovery from work-related stress.