The problem with our modern working practices is that it is very difficult to fully disconnect from work. We check our emails on our smartphones at all times and with the working from home legacy of the pandemic, there’s been a blurring of the lines between our working day and the rest of our life. Many people now actively choose holiday destinations with excellent Wi-Fi, knowing that they don’t intend to fully switch off.
However, more and more of us are experiencing burnout. We are worn down and have little left to give. Taking complete breaks from work and recharging in the way that works best for us as individuals, without interruptions, is essential.
The benefits of taking a complete break
Disconnecting from work means completely having a break. No checking emails, no quick calls, no in an emergency contact me on…’ You need to be able to switch off completely. It has hugely important benefits for your mental and physical health. These benefits go on to improve your work performance and productivity once you’re back at work. Stress is lowered, you can think more clearly (and therefore be more innovative) and your morale will be boosted. With improved sleep, you’ll experience higher energy levels and improved relationships.
Breaks should be regular – for example, occasional weekends where you take a digital detox, intentionally switching off the phone and taking time out. There should also be longer breaks where you get a complete change of scene from work, and disconnect. No one says you need to go off grid, but you do need to assert your own boundaries. However, several studies do show that getting into nature and away from screens can boost your creativity and productivity, so don’t dismiss it until you’ve tried it.
You need to make an intentional decision to disconnect
With working models the way that they are, you need to make a conscious decision to switch off and disconnect. Put on an out of office and stick to it. Delegate your work to colleagues, knowing that you will do the same for them when they take a break. Explain to your manager the need to totally disconnect and that you are doing it to prevent burnout. Some people even go so far as deleting email and work-related apps from their phone for the duration of their break to limit the temptation for checking.
There’s also the fact that your colleagues get used to what you’ve always done. If you’ve always been someone who checks their emails before bed or on holiday, and dashes off replies, then you’ll need to re-educate them on your new approach. By respecting other colleague’s needs for downtime, you can also ensure that your downtime is protected too.
It may feel easier said than done, but hopefully by knowing the benefits, it gives you good motivation to follow through on disconnecting.
When it’s too hard to disconnect
If, no matter how hard you try, it’s difficult to disconnect and pressure is put on you to always be available, then it may be time to consider a different role where your work-life balance is better respected.
Disconnecting from work is important. If you need to change your work-life balance, it’s time to browse our latest vacancies
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