The clock strikes 5pm and you’re thinking about leaving the office for the night, but on your way home you make a couple of calls, and then ‘catch up’ by replying to those emails after dinner. Sound familiar?
Our devices allow us to work from anywhere, anytime (thanks technology), which means working hours literally have no end. This affects our levels of cortisol (the stress hormone) making it difficult for us to wind down, relax, ‘recover’ from work and enjoy our leisure time.
43 per cent of Australian workers are regularly clocking more than 40 hours of work per week, making the traditional full-time working week of 40 hours a thing of the past for many of us. Excessive working hours can increase your risk of high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, chronic infection, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, anxiety and depression. So it’s worth doing something about.
Positive psychologist Dr Tim Sharp says it’s important to overcome the stresses of work and make sure when you physically leave your job, you mentally leave as well. He says we should value relaxation in the same way we value productivity.
“Relaxation and time out are just as important for our quality of life and should be valued as much as performing at a high level,” he says. “In fact, over the long term, we can’t perform at our best if we don’t take time, on occasions, to slow down.”
Dr Sharp also suggests that mini breaks throughout the year, rather than one long holiday, can help you stay focused and recharged. If your job doesn’t allow for that, Dr Sharp says setting time aside each week to rest and mentally unwind can be just as beneficial.
Whatever relaxation means to you, there are many practices you can put in place to create boundaries between work life and home life, but Dr Sharp warns that you need to actually make relaxation a priority if you want it to happen.
“Most of us don’t practice relaxing or switching off, but we should,” he says.
As well as doing things like switching off your phone occasionally so you’re not bothered by calls and emails (the world won’t self-destruct in your absence, promise), Dr Sharp suggests practicing mindfulness.
This doesn’t mean you have to meditate if that’s not your thing, it more means being present with your tasks. If you’re walking home, preparing dinner or hitting the gym, focusing on the task at hand can help with stress, memory and focus.
Another way of switching off from work is to actually plan something to do once you leave the office, which gives you something else to focus your time and energy on, like a date night with your significant other or a friend. Why not check out our Crown Melbourne restaurants here, and let us wine and dine you for a night of relaxation and switching off.