Home Mental Health & Well-Being 5 Tips on How to Disconnect from Work and Enjoy Your Downtime

5 Tips on How to Disconnect from Work and Enjoy Your Downtime

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Whether it’s been a busy time at work or you feel mentally exhausted from social events this year, giving yourself a much-needed Christmas break has never been more important. 

While the week between Christmas and New Year is supposed to be a time to relax and unwind, it can be difficult for many to unplug from work.

That’s why Professor Sir Cary Cooper, advisory board member at Delamere, shares some tips on switching off from work and what managers can do to prevent employees from burnout.

Switch off all notifications 

If you have notifications going to your phone consistently throughout the day, including work emails, Slack or Microsoft Teams, make sure to switch the pop-ups off while taking a much-needed break.

Having the temptation to check emails constantly while you off make it harder to fully disconnect from your work life when trying to catch up with friends and family. If switching off notifications doesn’t work for you, it might be an idea to delete any work-related apps to stop you from checking in on what’s happening while you are off.

Tackle your to-do list 

For those that work full time, the chances are you have a long list of life admin waiting patiently in the corner for you until you have time to look at it.

Annual leave can be the perfect time to tackle your to-do list that has been piling up, so start with the things that are the most important and have been sitting for a few more weeks than you like. Not only will you feel like you’ve checked off a few things you’ve been meaning to do, but you’ll also be able to distract yourself from work.

Draw a line under anything you’ve been working on

Sometimes the best way to forget about work in your time is to draw a line under anything you have been working on. 

This means not leaving any pieces of work half-finished and making sure you are on top of your inbox before you clock off.  Having everything boxed off will reduce anxiety while trying to relax and will also mean you come back to work feeling like it’s manageable.

Set up an out of office

An easy way to switch off from work is to set up an office on your email address. This will let managers and anybody who usually tries to contact you know that you won’t be checking your inbox while on annual leave or late into the evening. 

Once this is set up, ensure that people will see you’re out of the office and stick to it so you don’t need to keep checking your emails.

Manage expectations

If you plan on taking annual leave, you must manage the expectations of your managers, clients and staff by telling them as early as possible when you intend to be out of the office.

To fully switch off, it is also important to manage the expectations of your family, friends, and colleagues that might contribute to your work life. If you find it difficult to take time away from your job, remind loved ones that you are trying to relax and any talk of work might make you stressed.

How to manage to switch off from work, and why can burnout affect our health?

We asked Professor Sir Cary Cooper, an advisory board member at Delamere, how individuals struggling with a commitment to work can deal with the symptoms of work burnout and how to avoid feeling overworked: 

What can you do to switch off if you struggle to put down your laptop?

Professor Sir Cary Cooper says: “If the last 20 months have taught us anything, we should be taking time to properly relax with our loved ones. People are now working harder and longer hours than ever before and should use their time to disconnect from corporate life.”

“This means if you have emails or messages coming to your phone, switch them off so that you aren’t distracted or thinking about work when you should be relaxing. Having the temptation to look at work emails while off can mean you go back to work feeling drained because you didn’t fully disconnect.” 

What can employers do if they are concerned about a burnt-out staff member? 

“If you are concerned that a member of staff is falling victim to burnout, there are a few telltale symptoms that you can look out for, including acting withdrawn, looking physically exhausted, as well as over-using substances like alcohol or drugs or using work as a form of escape.”

“To help keep work burnout to a minimum, managers should not send emails outside working hours. For those who might struggle with addiction to their job, receiving an email like this could cause the person to start working again when resting.”

“Countries including France and Portugal have recently brought in legislation that bans managers and employers from doing so, while some companies will choose to shut down the server altogether.”

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