A study conducted by Gettysburg College found that you spend one-third of your life at work. On average, a person will spend 90,000 hours at work over a lifetime. This is a lot of time away from family while undergoing a lot of mental and physical stress. Overtime work starts to take priority over family and before you realize it, your productivity, creativity, mental, and physical health starts to decline. Why does this happen?
The reason is we do not give our minds time to re-charge and refocus on our priorities. We keep letting lesser priority tasks slip into our daily schedule and end up working long hours with less motivation. Then, every day starts to look like what Bill Murray experienced in the movie “Groundhog Day”. It is the same day every day!
Below is a five-step process to break this vicious cycle, reset your mind, and take a break from work:
1. Do a Mind Dump
Our minds already have all the information about our goals, interests, passion, and what motivates us. We need to tap into this rich information by strategically writing them down and making them visible. This is where the Mind Dump Exercise helps. Whenever you feel lost, not accomplishing your goals, overcommitting yourself to various tasks, feeling overwhelmed with ideas and thoughts, do this exercise, and document everything in your mind on to a piece of paper.
The exercise helps to give more visibility into your emotions, and you can take action accordingly. There is no right or wrong way to do this exercise. The goal is to write down everything you have in your mind. Then use this to guide your actions.
“Rest when you are weary. Refresh and Renew yourself. Your body, your mind, your spirit. Then get back to work.” – Ralph Martson
2. Write Down All of Your Accomplishments
One of the biggest problems with the human mind is it easily sways towards negative thoughts if we allow it to. We are constantly thinking about the things we haven’t accomplished and feel bad about ourselves. Let’s change that narrative in our minds.
Write down all your accomplishments in a given time frame. It could be – three months, six months, a year, or whatever you see fit. Once you start writing down all your accomplishments, it gives you a chance to appreciate the past and the present, in terms of all the items you have already completed that gives you purpose in life. Don’t think about the future alone.
I may go one step further and take a print out of all these accomplishments and stick it in a visible portion of your office to remind yourself every day that you are doing great work.
3. Write Down All of the Things You Are Grateful For
Yes, life sucks and throws you curveballs that hit you when you least expect it. But, each time you fall, you can stand up again and keep marching. One way to help do this is to write down all the things you are grateful for, like – your family, health, job, kids, friends, having money to support your family, having a roof over your head, and much more. Research conducted at UC Berkeley found a strong correlation between gratitude and well-being. It directly impacts mental and physical health.
When you observe the things you are grateful for, it helps give a different and more informed perspective on your current situation. Remember, “Tough times don’t last, tough people, do.” – Robert Schuller.
4. Give Yourself Some Grace
The problem with us as humans is that the way we treat ourselves is different than the way we treat others. We are kind to our best friend, and make sure we treat him/her with respect. But, when we mess up or do something that we do not like, we berate ourselves. We tell ourselves we are not good enough; we always mess up; we are stupid, and we do not deserve a second chance. Would you say these things to your best friend? Of course, you wouldn’t. Then, why do you treat yourself any differently?
It is unusual for people to say, “I am not going to do the best I can.” We all strive to put in our optimum effort to do what is best for our loved ones and us. So, when things aren’t going well for you, or you feel like giving up, give yourself some grace. Recognize that you are doing the best you can under the circumstances you are currently in. Sometimes things do not work out, and that is okay. There is always next time.
“Treat yourself with love and respect and you will attract people who show you love and respect.” – Rhonda Byrne
5. Do Something Fun
We get so attached to our work, that we sometimes forget life is more than just our job. Many beautiful experiences are waiting to be explored. There are fun things to do by yourself and your family. This could be as simple as spending more time with family, going on a mini-vacation, taking a staycation – where you catch up on reading, favorite TV shows, and eating great food. Detach from your busy life at work. Remember “We all have two lives, and the second begins when we realize we have only one” – Confucius.
So are you feeling overwhelmed, stressed, or anxious at work? Then, it may be time to take a mental break from your job and focus on you. Follow the five-step process and give yourself the headspace you deserve.
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