Tips for the overworked professional

Are you suffering from job burnout? Lockdown has made some of us work harder than ever. I am currently working 16-hours on flexible furlough. I am finding that I’m trying to fit what I would usually do in 40 hours into this time. You may also be a working professional, managing the running of a house and chasing the kids around too. Here are some of my relaxation tips to help get your mind refocused and off work.

How do you realise that you are overworked?

  1. You reach office early, start working immediately and barely stop for a coffee or a bite
  2. You are at everyone’s beck and call, always available
  3. You don’t say no to any work request and take on all kinds of assignments
  4. You find it challenging to complete the day’s work in the stipulated office hours
  5. You carry work home and often sacrifice your sleep trying to complete tasks
  6. You are continually running behind schedule, and are unable to hand in work on time
  7. You have zero social life – whenever anyone calls you for a get-together, you plead work engagements
  8. Of late, you have developed health issues like heartburn, anxiety and sleeplessness

We have all experienced a case of job burnout at one point during professional life. I have put together some of my suggestions to help you avoid or manage these tough times.

Prioritise your work

Yeh, yeh, I know this is easier said than done. Taking 10-minutes at the start of the working day, or at the end ready for the next day, write your to-do list. I use a Daily Goal Diary and love the sense of ticking things off when they have been completed. If you are overwhelmed by the amount you have to do, this can help break it down. If you need help, ask for it. There is more harm to be done in trying to do everything yourself than asking for a bit more time.

Reconfigure your morning

Do you turn over and check your inbox, whilst still in bed? I’m guilty of this with checking my work and personal social media. If you do this too, you’re going from zero to full-on in minutes, so no wonder you may feel frantic. Ease yourself into the day. You could spend a few minutes meditating or reciting positive affirmations. Do some stretches or a quick morning yoga sequence.

Get dressed

As so many of us are now doing more work from home, I think this is a positive step. I’m not saying you have to wear your best power suit but change out of your PJ’s. Take 10-minutes of me time to wash face – maybe cleanse, tone and moisturise – brush your hair, and put on clean clothes. Even if these are your everyday comfies and your faithful slippers.

Wear blue light glasses

Blue-screen or blue-light glasses feature tinted lenses with anti-glare protection. They limit your exposure to blue light that comes off your phone, computer screen and even certain light bulbs. You eyes are sensitive to the blue light, and by wearing the glasses, you can reduce digital eye strain. This can make you feel more awake and boost your productivity. Blue light can also keep you up at night. So, wearing them when scrolling through your phone in bed, will help you enjoy a restful night’s sleep.

Let’s talk about sleep

Sleep is routinely ignored as a bodily need. We kid ourselves if we think we can either delay or defer the rest that we need for optimum health and performance. More and more, research is supporting the notion that everyone needs between six and a half and eight hours of sleep to operate at their optimum level. If you are staying up late to get extra work done, you may be engaging in counter-productive behaviour. Your mood will improve too.

Healthy mind, healthy body

How often are we told to watch what we eat? When feeling busy or stressed, it is far too easy to reach for comfort instead of for health. Take your lunch break, and if you can go for a walk and enjoy the fresh air. Gold stars are not awarded to the workaholics who never step away from their desks, even when they need to. Choose superfoods over comfort foods and something that is going to keep you satisfied for longer. Eating fast food will only lead to more guilt. In the evening, take the time to cook from scratch. Spending 30-minutes making a meal with fresh ingredients again is going to boost your mood.

Get down and give me 20

Just as it is far too easy to make poor choices concerning what to eat, you may not want to work out regularly. Exercise, however, can help work off some of the frustration and pent up anger that may be accompanying your job burnout symptoms. Work out for at least 30 minutes a day three to four times a week even if it is nothing more than taking a brisk walk around the neighbourhood. Working up a good sweat may help to alleviate some of your pent up emotions around work. Vigorous workouts can help to produce endorphins that will help elevate your mood.

Drink up

Staying hydrated is likely the least of your worries when you’re working. You need to drink plenty of water to stay hydrated, so your body can flush out the toxins that it manufactures daily. Drinking enough water helps with concentration, energy levels, decreases stress levels and is a natural headache remedy. Having a pint glass or re-useable bottle on your desk will remind you to drink up often. Adding sugar-free squash is also a great way of making it more interesting.

Unplug and turn off at the end of the day

Once you have finished for the day, do not leave your laptop or work phone turned on. Switch them off and put them in a cupboard or out of site. You do not have to be reachable all of the time. I often remember things I have forgotten to do or have ideas that I can implement into the marketing strategy. I simply email myself, to remind me to put it on my to-do list.

What are your relaxation tips?

There is a saying that hard work has never killed anyone. But in today’s day and age, overwork does kill, if not instantly, slowly but surely. Being overworked doesn’t help anyone. Not you, your health, or your company. And understanding that and protecting yourself from slipping into long hours is one of the best things you can do for your productivity.

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