If you're like most of us, you take your work home with you at night in a regular 9-5 work landscape. Either physically taking calls and answering emails or ruminating about the work events of the day or professional things on the horizon. That's just work. We get wrapped up in it and it's hard to flip the switch at 5 pm, even for people who have that option. Throw in a forced quarantine pandemic with most people working FROM their homes and you have millions of people unable to detach because the lines between work and leisure are blurred.
These constant ties to work without a clear break can lead to stress, anxiety and depression making it crucial to have a healthy work-life balance so that your job AND your personal life don't suffer. If you're someone who has a hard time taking time away from your professional duties, here are some tips for you.
Obviously taking a vacation is number one on most people's lists of ways to get a break from work, but with the pandemic, most people are avoiding travel. That doesn't mean a getaway has to be out of the question.
If you and yours are "outdoorsy" and the weather permits, take a day trip or even a weekend camping trip to a nearby state or national park. If you're more of the indoor type, look into hotel deals in your area. It may not seem like a real getaway, but the change of scenery, the lack of cooking and cleaning and maybe even an indoor pool for the kids, can do wonders for your mental health.
If you're choosing to opt out of a typical extended, out-of-the-house vacation this year, there are plenty of ways to disconnect without going far. Setting up and sticking to a strict work/break timeline throughout the day can help. Commit to working for 50 minutes straight and then taking a 10 minute break whenever possible. Get up from the desk and move around. Take the dog for a walk. Maybe pop out of the house to run a quick errand. Even heading to a different room in the house where you can move around, get some blood flowing and put your mind on something else can give you a mental reset and make a big difference in your mood.
SET A WORK REWARD
This one might sound silly because we're adults and adults don't get rewards for doing what they're supposed to do, but we would argue that unforeseen circumstances of the pandemic and a dramatic shift in how people are doing their jobs would allow for a reward. There. We said you can do it, so you can do it.
If you feel that a daily reward such as catching a few more episodes of that show you've been binging, or a trip to Starbucks for a venti Frappuccino with extra caramel and whipped cream is out of the question, set yourself a weekly reward. Something like takeout from. your favorite place on Friday or ordering that new phone case you've had your eye on. Giving yourself something to look forward to, a little light at the end of the tunnel, can have a great positive effect on your mindset.
SET UP A PEACEFUL WORKSPACE
This seems like a small thing, but you'd be surprised how much more productive you can be when you're set up in an optimal work area. More importantly, making a workspace that's JUST FOR WORK means stepping away from work FOR REAL when you leave it. Don't work in your bed or on your couch since those places should be for relaxing and you don't want to associate them with work. If you're able to, make sure your daily chores are mostly done so that your mind won't be going to them throughout the day so that you won't be drawn from your work area until work is done.
We get that it seems backwards that creating distance between yourself and your work can help your work, it's true. If you find yourself stressed and in a state of constant work zone, you'll be amazed at the focus and motivation that a little break can bring. Taking care of yourself and your mental health will only benefit how you tackle your professional life.