The memes on the street depict work-from-homers shutting their laptop lids at 5 p.m. and curling up under a blanket: but is that the best we can do? Should more be done to separate being ‘on the clock’ from ‘personal time’? We say yes, and so does the research.
Prolonged periods of intense focus, especially in jobs that demand accuracy, lead to mental fatigue. That exhaustion doesn’t stay in mind though, it moves about and shows up physically through various symptoms like:
- Poor Choices
- Impulsive Behavior
- Chronic Pain
- Blurry Vision
- Dry Eyes from Too Much Screen Time
You aren’t a machine, work is taxing even if you’re good at it. In fact, research shows people can focus for a certain amount of time before they need to come up for air and then reconcentrate. That’s how we get through an eight-hour work day: continuously refocusing.
So when you push through to the next task on the list after clocking out— it’s a sure way to end up burnt out. To continue working at a high-performance rate a recovery period is strongly advised.
We’re calling it the post-work cooldown.
When you think about it most already have a post-work, cool-down routine. Whether it’s switching on your favorite streaming platform or heading to the kitchen to make dinner. Life goes on after we clock out.
But there needs to be a bridge, at least we think there should be. Working is stressful on the body and mind because it’s demanding attention.
Visual decompression, as a moment solely to release any physical tension you’ve held in your body throughout the day. When that moment is finished you shake it off and get back to business. It’s a dedicated time for slowing down intense thoughts. Depending on how much time you have between responsibilities, your after-work decompression routine could vary wildly.
Here are some quick ways to zone out and recalibrate…
- Step outdoors and run through a breathing exercise.
- Switch over to your favorite online editorial and read something funny!
- A couple of burpees to get the blood rushing… just 5 will do it, no reason to groan.
- Do a quick body scan meditation
- Cuddle your pet, the buggers are notorious stress-relievers.
- Read a chapter of a book you have a hard time putting down.
- Go make some tea, whisk up some matcha, prepare a gourd of yerba mate, or pull out the french press. Do any of these activities mindfully.
Any activity can be done mindfully, but it's about finding a practice that doesn’t feel like another task. For example, switching over from one job to anything that feels high-stakes isn’t decompressing, it’s just piling on the stress. Take plenty of me moments folks you deserve it.
Wanna learn how your friendships may be affecting your weight? Read: Apparently, Healthy Friendships Help You Stay Fit (Among Other Things), next.