We all have such busy schedules that we can often lose touch with what we need and deserve. The technology of today has left all of us with a 24/7 mentality so we can always find ourselves at work even when we are not. Professor Mark Cropley, a leading Psychologist and specialist on health and stress, notes that the inability to separate our working lives has a strong correlation with negative health issues such as sleep disturbance and high blood pressure.
There are three simple steps that can help us to fully switch-off.
STEP ONE: Prepare
Preparation is key! Plan how you are going to plan to ensure you do switch off. We all know we have a certain amount of work to do and we also know we need to completely disengage from the job. Allocate definitive time for work and play. It needs to be black and white. When are you going to take the work batteries out to fully recharge yourself? Everyone has there own ways of relaxing and switching off. Planned days with friends, planned days to have your diary completely clear to do nothing or a two-week break away. Be ruthless with switching off. Can you disable the facility to send work emails to your phone and only log onto work emails during the ‘work’ period when you are at a computer? Are there times during holidays when you can inform everyone that you are not contactable? Think of a method that will work for you – working one day/afternoon a week – blocking work on rainy days – blocking a working week.
STEP TWO: Accept
As Susan David in her book Emotional Agility states ‘Acceptance is a prerequisite for change.’ It is a true paradox that we can’t change our circumstances until we accept what is. We need to learn to not try and control everything, but find peace, so we are not at war with our thoughts and ourselves. You have the final say over what is of value in your life. So if you need to do work, do it in a way that is best for you. The only one setting the pressures and rules is YOU – choose to accept that and suddenly you won’t feel the pull/push towards feeling that you HAVE to do things. You will feel much more at ease. Be kind to yourself. This has been the biggest and most successful change for myself and others that I have worked with.
STEP THREE: Give yourself permission
Allow yourself to be imperfect. Allow yourself to be a bit miserable. Allow yourself to choose new things. Know that everything is OK. No one is perfect, no one is happy all the time and no one stays the same. You are where you are right now. You cannot know what happens tomorrow or if the decisions you make today are the right ones. You can only make decisions based on where you are right now with the knowledge you have today. So give yourself the permission to live in the now and not worry the holidays away with what should have been done or what you think you should be doing. You are good enough.
‘There is virtue in work and there is virtue in rest. Use both and overlook neither’ – Alan Cohen
I can promise you that these steps will enable you to feel more relaxed and the more you practice these the easier it will become. They have been tried and tested. Once you become expert at these three steps, you will find that you not only are able to switch off from work for holidays, but for weekends and evenings too….and it doesn’t make you any less effective! What’s not to love?