Students

How to disconnect from work and relax

December 21, 2016 by Jina Smith

With technology making it easier for us to access work from anywhere, it is harder and harder to separate professional time from personal time. Some people may take pride in working non-stop but boundaries must be set before it takes a toll on their physical and mental health. We are bombarded by emails, phone calls and to-do lists, and if you are like me, the work week is a constant reminder of just how precious our time is. Even when we are not working, we are always on the go. Running our next errand, attending our next event, caring for our families and working on ways to get ahead. It seems to be a never-ending path that can leave us tired, overwhelmed and lead to serious burnout.

The weekend is a time to recharge the batteries, unwind and enjoy the fruits of our labor. This can mean a lot of different things to people, but I think the end goal is the same: find a way, any way, to feel rejuvenated come Monday morning.

But before we start to relax, we need to fully disconnect from work. So here are some ways to shut work out to allow for some good old fashioned relaxation:

  • Set an Out of Office Message
    Use your out of office message to inform people that you will have limited access to email and will respond after the weekend. This will let them know not to expect a response right away so you can comfortably shut down. 
  • Designate an Email Time Slot
    If you absolutely must check your email to ensure emergencies have not arisen or to make sure you do not miss urgent messages, designate a time slot in your day for checking emails and making notes. I would recommend the first 30 minutes of your morning to get it out of the way and using the rest of your day to be free from work.
  • Remove the Temptation or Urge to Check
    If you have a work phone, store it safely in your house and do not take it with you anywhere. If you do not have a separate phone for work, disable the work email so it does not send alerts or notifications, and commit to keeping it off for the remainder of the weekend for your own sanity.

Giving your brain a break from work is as necessary as sleep. And just as sleep provides restoration and healing for your body, a break from work gives your brain a chance to restore and recover. Once you successfully disconnect from work, you can start relaxing. It may be harder for others to truly unwind, but make it your goal to take baby steps and learn to start letting to. No one expects you to be a zenmaster overnight. Try these tips:

  • Go On a Walk 
    Take a quick walk without any devices and work on shifting your focus on the present moment. Practice mindfulness and try to forget the tasks and projects for the upcoming week. Gather your thoughts, breathe and enjoy the day.
  • Listen to Music 
    Listen to songs from past times where you felt relaxed or songs that simply get you in the mood to have fun. Some studies prove that playing music or hearing certain genres actually boosts brain power.
  • Move Your Body
    From hiking to dancing there is an endless amount of fun activities that reduce stress and can help you feel relaxed, find the right one that fits your personal style.
  • Get Social
    Health.com states that "people with stronger social connections were 50% more likely to live longer than those with weaker connections." So go to lunch with your family or friends, get a massage together or have them over to catch up.
  • Take a Staycation
    Plan a little getaway to a nearby destination or simply leave the house. Go to the beach, the movies, visit a local museum or take a scenic drive. The key is to take a break from your usual routine and create a different weekend experience.

Remember as we get older, we won't be getting nostalgic over our career highlights. We will be remembering the moments outside of work, the people we spend time with and the memories made from personal experiences. I have never heard of anyone looking back on life and wishing they had spent more time at the office. So unchain yourself from your cubicle, break free from your mobile devices and take time to stop and smell the roses.

Where do you fall on the work/life balance spectrum?

Creating balance between work, school, and life enables you to focus on many different areas of your wellbeing without letting one area overwhelm you and pull you down.

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