“Struggle doesn’t make success happen. In fact, struggle can prevent success from happening. If you seek struggle, you will find it. if you seek ease, you will find it.” – Rich Fettke on taking care of your work-life balance
Many of us are back at work after either not working in a familiar work environment, or indeed, after not working at all for a while. Even back in ‘normal’ times, it was important to take care of ourselves at work and to find ways of boosting our workplace resilience. However, we are now, I think it is fair to say, as a people, a little more emotionally venerable.
Although it is a good conscious business practice to put some focus on employee mental health and morale, you must also be conscious to do things for yourself, and put boundaries in place, that means you are at your best when at work. Here are a few care tips you may wish to have in your mind going forward.
1. Don’t Go Overtime
I know myself, as a freelancer, that working beyond mandated hours (whether set by me, or by an employer) can happen all too easily. If reasonable working hours have been set, and especially if they are contracted, stick to them. Your resilience and mental health rely on a healthy work-life balance. Ultimately, working unpaid overtime eventually leads to fatigue, making it hard to execute your job to the level to which you are capable.
2. Separate Home and Work
In this world, where we are connected to communication devices 24 hours a day, the lines between business and leisure have become increasingly blurred. I sometimes find myself, without even stopping to consider, answering work emails a 10 o’clock at night! If you are not at work, do not engage with work. You can’t care about work 24 hours a day! Emails can wait until 9 am tomorrow morning. Maybe even put a block on your account or ensure that you can only access work communications through the devices you use for work. Leave work where work should be left… work!
3. Take Breaks
Breaks are there for a reason. Our brains need rest and refreshment. Indeed, breaks make it easier to work faster and more efficiently. If I am struggling with a task at the end of the day, I often leave it until the next morning, because I know that the task will take me half the time and will require half the stress if I do it after a nights sleep. Breaks, on a smaller scale, do the same thing. So, if you have the flexibility to take breaks when you need them, take them. Don’t be proud!
4. Make Mindful Use of Your Breaks
Indeed, when you do take your breaks, use them wisely. How many of us grab our lunch and eat it at our desk, or in the same room, we have been working in all morning. Go out and find somewhere different to be, somewhere that lifts your spirits and connects you with the outside world. Perhaps there is a wonderful park nearby, or perhaps there is a grand building that you can sit in and marvel at (I am currently in Edinburgh, and often go and sit in the National Museum just to soak up the architecture). Or maybe there is a café where the owner knows your name and your order. Really make time for yourself when you are on a break… any opportunity to give some time to your own resilience and wellbeing.
5. Eat Properly
Our brains don’t only benefit from breaks and rest, but proper fuelling and nutrition. To get you through the day feeling productive and positive, ensure that you feed yourself consciously, and listen to what your body is asking you for. If you have the resolve to eat something ‘super healthy’ one day, then great, go for it. However, some days, on tougher days, you may wish to give in to a treat or two, for the sake of taking care of your soul and comfort.
6. Know Your Signs
Self-awareness without judgement of the self is a really useful skill to learn. It means that you can see the signs in yourself that lead to behaviours you may not be the biggest fan of. If you can learn what your signs are, and work out ways to combat them, you will find navigating the stress of the workplace a great deal easier.
By Chris Thomson
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