Switching Off: Why It’s More Important than Ever

Celebrating Anne Frank’s Birthday
July 31, 2020
Summer Staycation: 4 Ways to Unwind
August 6, 2020

We’re living through strange and unusual times. And that makes the ability to switch off and relax at the end of the day a skill even more worth nurturing.

The stress of the pandemic, the fear of the effects of COVID-19, and the experiences of living through lockdown are all taking their toll on many of us. 

For those shielding, or with caring responsibilities, or those working on the frontline, the stress is even greater.

This has led some commentators to warn of a looming mental health crisis

By working together, we can overcome the challenges

Lockdown and social distancing have shown us how much we crave human connections.  

As Shep Hyken notes in Forbes magazine: “Not being able to dine with friends, see family members (who don’t live with you) or interact with co-workers has put a strain on the human spirit… People’s frustrations and fears are creating higher levels of anxiety.”

Averting a mental health crisis

Even once a vaccine is developed, many people around the world with be grappling with the economic aftershocks of the crisis.

So how can we develop good habits that help to build our mental resilience and sustain good mental health throughout the ongoing stress of the new coronavirus-affected world?

One important way is to develop the ability to switch off – whether from the TV news or social media “doom scrolling” or simply from the stresses of our new, altered working life.

Learning to switch off

Some question whether it is possible to achieve a work-life balance when you work from home.  But with the time and space between work and homelife being more blurred than ever, as it is for so many of us now, it’s really important to develop new rituals to signify the point at which you stop working and switch off for the evening.

This might mean creating dedicated time for contemplation, or a relaxing activity such as yoga or meditation, or it could be something as simple as reading or having a soak in the bath.  The key is to find something that works for you and make it part of your daily routine.

Developing good sleep habits, such as putting down the screens well before bedtime, and sticking to a routine have also been shown to be important for our mental wellbeing – and can help our creativity too.

As a manager, you have an important role to play

In an earlier post, we noted the responsibilities that managers have to ensure their team understand the importance of time off and to give them the space to take a break and prioritize their health and work-life balance.

This is easier for employees who are working from home – they are, by necessity, suddenly finding themselves judged on results, rather than the number of hours they sit at a desk.

Managers need to show leadership and support their staff through this culture change and open discussions about how – or, indeed, whether – things will return to “normal”.

Eventually, this crisis will be over.  The habits we form now and the discussions we have about how we are working and how we want to work in the future will help to shape the world we emerge into.

Let’s make sure it’s even better than before!