Living in the pandemic we have experienced extraordinary technological advancements, but now it often seems impossible to truly connect within and with those around us, and nearly impossible to walk away from work.
We are subjected to a constant and endless barrage of video conferencing apps like Zoom and Teams, email and messaging. This, along with the Whatsapp messaging culture of sending texts and voice notes all hours of the day, and the necessary engagement with social media in almost every industry has blurred the lines between our professional and personal lives.
Even when your ‘out of office’ is activated, miles from Mauritius or retreating into the desert, turning off is a struggle. In fact, studies have shown that it takes at least a week of vacation for the full effects of the vacation to be felt, and even more so for those experiencing intense levels of stress and burnout. However, most don’t take that much-needed downtime, and even if they do, they don’t really log out.
There is immense pressure to be ‘on’ as we overcompensate for being more at home, scrambling to check inboxes, text messages and social media feeds all hours of the day. . The pandemic has confirmed this and the reality is that with fewer borders we almost never stop working.
So what can we do differently?
Understanding the impact of stress
The intense fear and anxiety around COVID, compounded by a culture of working remotely with blurry boundaries, has contributed to high levels of burnout. In part linked to this, the workplace is also seeing the mass exodus of employees leaving their jobs, dubbed the âbig resignationâ by Anthony Klotz, associate professor of management at Texas A&M University.
The endless onslaught of stress on the body retards our creative capacity and attention span, so that we then operate from a place of mere survival. We then become more rooted in numbing activities like compulsive snacking, smoking, scrolling social media, and drinking alcohol.
Getting enough rest is imperative to combat such pressures. This means turning off screens at least 2 hours before bedtime, figuring out when to check email, and making sure at least 7-8 hours of sleep is a top priority.
Move your body
A wonderful way to come into a more harmonious state within yourself is to move. Walk, dance, practice yoga, swim, or do whatever requires you to focus on the new activity at hand. Exercise can absorb you and help induce a deeper state of flux, not to mention the inevitable biochemical change in the brain and body.
Connect with your tribe
Take time with those who bring out the best in you and who you feel energized with. Seek out the community when you are feeling particularly stressed at work or anxious in general. Get out of the neurosis of your mind by serving others and giving without expectation.
Spend time in nature
Take the time to step away from your screen and reflect on a walk on the beach or a sunset, ideally without your phone in hand. Learn to listen to the sound of waves crashing on the sand or the chirping of birds in the garden. Come up with new activities to enjoy while the weather permits, take advantage of weekends to make your way through the mountains and explore new wadis.
Learn to meditate
Adopting a meditation routine of just 3 minutes a day is extremely helpful in improving cognition and developing self-awareness. The more aware you are of your internal stress and fatigue levels, the more these feelings become a trigger for you to take a screen break or just rest.
Start by simply closing your eyes and practicing segmented breathing. This could involve a continuous cycle of 4 parts sniffing through the nose and 4 parts sniffing through the nose. It’s an easy exercise that not only helps us change our biochemistry, but teaches us how to live in the present moment. You don’t have to be spiritual or religious to appreciate the value of living here and now.
Disconnecting from work will happen naturally as you learn to reconnect with yourself.
The reality is that most people are oblivious and abundant about how they use technology and engage with work and the world in general.
The key is to be more measured and aware during our workday. It’s up to us to set the parameters and the limits.
It is essential for our health and well-being.