Teach yourself to manage work withdrawal, by taking time to have a regular break from your work.
Withdrawal is a strong word used in case of addiction. It can be for severe addiction regarding drugs, or for more common ones let say like sugar.
What these have in common is the fact that they are foreign substances to our body that we ingest. However, withdrawal can also happen when we are addicted to specific actions. My point here is to talk about work withdrawal.
I am of those who can burn the candle at both ends to end up exhausted. Eventually, when the work is all done, and I can finally rest for a couple of days, I easily fall into work withdrawal.
In that case, I have issues with managing that downtime and then go back to a regular work schedule as I have no energy left. Taking a daily break is the best mindset shift trigger.
What is work withdrawal?
Well, that very simple: you are so much into your job, hustle activity or any other activity of yours, being devoted to your home and family, that you don’t stop doing it at any time. You want to avoid the withdrawal of not having anything purposeful to do. You don’t want to rest or have leisure because you are addicted to your work.
I’m always talking as a mom for moms, even if what I say can be true for anyone. In that case, I believe that work withdrawal is quite common upon moms. It doesn’t matter that you work outside, or take care of your little ones, or work on a future or existing business from home during the day. When your family is home at night, you already are on your second shift. It’s your second job turn now, the one that occurs at night. You are working all the time, and even if you love what you do, you are on your way to work withdrawal and burn out.
The danger of work withdrawal
First of all, you must know that the Work Withdrawal Syndrome at its extreme is a mental disorder, but can have a negative effect on many aspects of your life. If you or someone you know have doubts about the effects of your working schedule on your behaviour, you should get professional advice.
However, my purpose, as usual, is to talk about common issues. The ones which are not severe enough for professional help. Therefore the ones we are usually on our own to manage. Here are little tips to help you get out of your well of unstoppable activity.
1- Set boundaries
This one is the first one because it’s the most important one. But let’s be honest, it’s also the most difficult to achieve once you are already too deep into your work overload. Setting boundaries are the best efficient way to keep a little time for yourself for leisure and fun activities.
You can do this by keeping a free time block at the beginning or the end of your working day to do something else. You want to set the boundary between your life and your activity. Set a schedule for your work and keep at it as much as you can, even when it’s tough. You must keep in mind that you are more than your job. You can always manage at least 10 min a day to do something that is not on your endless obligation list. Even on the busiest days, you deserve this break. I dare say, especially on the busiest days you deserve this break.
2- Have a mid-day break and make time
Having to stop your professional activity, or your day at home for 20 to 30 minutes is also setting boundaries, but it’s much more than that indeed. This kind of break sends a message to your subconscious brain to remind it that your job, whatever it is, is not that important that nothing can stop it.
If you are working in an office, go outside, walk for a while. The weather can’t be an excuse here. If it’s too cold or rainy, go to a shopping centre or a library, or take your umbrella! If you work from home without babies to care for, it’s the same. Personally, I love to get outside and order a coffee. You have little ones and can’t choose your schedule? Use their nap time to do something for you. Forget for a little while the chores! The world will not end because you take a 20 to 30 minutes break every day to do something for you, something without any other purpose than having fun.
3- Make a list to check during your break
If you have some passion of yours, it’s time to indulge. If you want to get fit, you can schedule a short fitness session daily! But let’s say, as many moms, you are so much into being devoted to your family and colleagues that you have entirely forgotten what you love, and want.
It’s time to do your homework then. Make a list of fun small things you want to do in the next 3 or 6 months. You can go back to your list several times before you get into the habit of jotting down ideas on the go quickly again. Take it slow and be kind to yourself. It’s a new process; time will come when you’ll fill your note with ease.
Use an app on your phone or a little notebook, and fill it with dozens of ideas to have fun during your downtime.
Why this list? Simple, you’ll set boundaries more easily if you have a precise idea of what you have to do during this time. It sounds like obligations again, but it’s not. This time it’s about motivation. You give yourself something to look forward to when the bell is ringing to stop working for a while!
There are so many ways to do something that is not work-related. It sounds difficult at first, but it’s just a new habit to take, a new routine to acquire. A change of pace and a change of scenery, are the best ways to stop your working brain from ruling your world. Taking action takes one trigger, an alarm on your phone is a first simple step. It can also be your baby going to bed, or you can ask someone to send you a text. Your family can help, and it’s another way to connect with your loved ones in the process! They think about you for a few seconds, as you think about them… all the time.
Don’t forget: have fun!
Read more about refocusing: