The Importance of Mentally Detaching From Work

Workers who take regular time to relax are less likely to experience burnout. Studies have shown that taking time away from the job can have physical and mental health benefits. People who take vacations have lower stress, less risk of heart disease, a better outlook on life, and more motivation to achieve goals.

But in this day and age, it’s easy to be always on, bypassing breaks, checking emails on weekends, and even delaying vacations.

We all need time to mentally and emotionally detach from work so we don’t get burnt out. Also, it’s much easier to prevent burnout than deal with it after the fact.

Here are some ways to start mentally detaching from work:

  • Start the day with the end in mind. The day starts, you check your email, and are already in “go mode”. Monday morning, instead of checking emails first, write down the ONE one thing you have to get done that day. Do your best to prioritize that task, meeting, and/or conversation. At the end of the day check back in – did you get that one high-priority task done?
  • Create two lists at the end of the day. One list is all that you’ve accomplished that day. Often, it’s more than you think. The other list consists of items that are still on your plate and you feel a need to get done. This will help unpack them from your brain. Make any urgent and important items your priority the next working day. Chances are most things can wait until then.
  • Start an end-of-the-day routine. Whether it’s clearing your desk, stretching, or planning out the next day, create a routine for yourself. This signals that the workday is done.
  • Leave your computer at the office. If you are working from home, power down your computer so you’re not tempted to check your email after dinner “real quick”, then get caught up in one more email syndrome.
  • Give yourself a break to recharge between work and home. What you do on your way home (or before stepping out of your home office) should relax you. Whether that’s calling a friend, listening to music, or driving in silence – do something that leaves you feeling refreshed for your home life. This is especially true if you work from home. Spending even five minutes recovering from the workday can help you leave work behind.
  • Create a no email after 6 p.m. rule (and tell your co-workers about it). Make boundaries for yourself and tell others for accountability. They’ll also better understand why you aren’t answering their emails off-hours!

Practice one of the strategies, see what works (and what doesn’t) until you find what works for you.

Have a strategy that works for you? Share it in the comments below.

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