How often do you feel like you need a break?
During a break, what happens in an individual’s mind is that he/she is so worked up in his/her work life. As it is evident today, everyone is facing competition. We can see that we are all busy achieving something. Though every individual has goals and dreams they wish to fulfil, everyone is chasing that far-off future. The question is, is it wrong to do so?
Absolutely not, there is nothing wrong with wishing for something or working hard to achieve a goal. However, what we tend to forget is our own life. We forget to pay attention to our personal life.
Sometimes, we are so engrossed in our careers that we work on our days off. This is where we need to be extremely careful. There is a fine line between being career-oriented and workaholic. One should be aware of working extremely hard and working too much. For the sake of thinking the worst, this situation can cause a lot of mental health conditions.
What is personal life?
Personal life means an individual’s other areas of life. What are these other areas of life? They are as follows:
- Family life
- Social life- friend circle
- Marital life
Often we hear people say that we manage these areas after our work hours/office hours. This indicates that we are missing personal life priorities. Mental health professionals suggest that to have a healthy mental life, we must prioritise all areas of our life.
How do we give priority to all the areas of our life?
We need to identify what it is that we want to give importance to. Of course, work-life is equally important compared to others. On the other hand, we live in a community where certain roles are expected from us. We are to perform our daily chores and routines. We have few duties and obligations towards our families, friends and marital lives. These are also responsibilities we need to perform.
What will happen if we ignore our personal life?
Imagine a person who is living with his family. He has a wife and two children. His working hours are from 10 am-7 pm. His wife is permanently working from home. She is looking after their children. One day he falls ill and stays at home. At the time of lunch, his daughter comes to him with a fight she had in school. He asks her to consult her mother. The daughter sadly replies, “I thought you could help me with this. We never get to talk much, papa!”
Can you feel the emotions that the person must have felt? It is as if the father exists in their children’s life but is not present there for them!
An individual starts feeling short of mental and emotional support. Logically, we need to give emotional and mental support to others to receive it back. This can be the aversive effect that can happen in a person’s life if he/she fails to pay attention to his/her personal life.
As mentioned before, we must set clear personal and work life boundaries. We must decide the priorities of both lives. It is absolutely understandable that in today’s fast-paced life, trying to go above and beyond in careers is tough. As a result, we spend more hours of our day achieving tasks of the day.
How do we keep boundaries between personal and work life?
Due to COVID-19, the duration of workdays and working hours have increased. To signify this, Fingerprint for Success found that the average workday lengthened by 48.5 minutes following the initial lockdowns in March 2020. The primary reason behind it is companies assume that as the employees are in lockdown, they are free to work as many hours as can be based on monetary gain.
“The good life is a process, not a state of being.”- Carl Rogers.
Life is a mixture of all parts of our life. It is an ensemble of personal and professional life. Many researchers suggest that an individual carries two different sides, one in his personal life and one in his professional life. With this line, Carl Rogers is trying to tell us where we need to focus.
An excellent place to start setting boundaries between our personal and work life is to start taking time off work. We often see people around us who fail to take a leave from work. On their days off, we find them checking emails, calling clients on weekends and compromising lunch and short breaks to finish their work.
In order to stand out in the competition, they are pacing their life or pushing themselves beyond limits. One research reveals that 2.4 billion Australians have gone a year without taking leave.
What can be the reason behind this? When we ask such individuals, the common response we receive is that they feel guilty for taking leave. For them taking a holiday is laying back from others. There is a strong belief existing in these individuals stated by a famous psychologist- Albert Elis. He said that when there is self-depreciation, an individual tends to think that something is wrong with him instead of looking at the confirmed reality. What we need to change here is to start looking at professional and personal lives as two different coexisting parts of life.
As we are talking about taking time off, one consequence we need to consider is burnout. The aversive effect of over-work can result in this unpleasant condition of burnout. Burnout signifies that the individual has reached a particular threshold of his/her life. Beyond this limit, he is unable to take on the pressure.
When one is working out of their working hours, it says that he/she cannot think about anything but his/her work. From the moment he/she wakes up, all they do is think about how they can finish their projects/work.
Burnout can cause severe damage to one’s mental health. The person starts developing anxious thoughts regarding the deadlines, stress of conducting meetings or presentations, managing workload, etc.
The important aspect we can never look away from is that these burnouts are not healthy for the organisation or the company. The performance evaluation of the individuals starts to go down. The colleague relation can also be hampered. In a nutshell, the effects are not in favour of mental health.
Taking time off!
To kick start deciding the boundaries, one needs to learn how to take time off. There are a few as follows:
1. Create a schedule
It is vital to design a schedule to determine what you need to do in your regular and daily routine and appropriately allot time to it. Following a schedule is beneficial for us to understand how much time we spend on one particular activity.
If they are becoming too much for us, we can edit the schedule, understand our limits and then redesign the schedule. We will be able to assign priority to each part of our life.
For example, I will spend my time only with my family and children after working hours. Once we decide this, it becomes easier for us to participate and be there for our family and friends (personal life).
2. Detach from technology
Today’s work culture is based on technology, for example, smartphones, laptops, tablets, etc. Hence, it is understandable if we are engaged with these gadgets for most of the day. However, is it going to help us to take time off?
No, right? Instead of helping us have time off, the gadgets will only remind us about the work we have to do.
Thus, we need to keep aside these gadgets when it is time for ourselves/our personal life. Until the time we do not keep them aside, we cannot think straight and have productive thoughts.
Therefore, when we have time off, we need to give these gadgets a break and experience our surroundings.
3. Leave work after working hours
We can see people staying back in their offices even after working hours. The reasons behind this situation can only be that a) they have too much on their plate or b) they are not getting sufficient time to complete their allotted projects of the day. Some individuals prefer finishing work from tomorrow beforehand. Globally, 11% of employees say they work more than 50 hours per week.
What we need to change here is the number of our working hours. We need to set a boundary here: no matter what work we have left when it is time to leave the office, there shouldn’t be any sacrifice.
4. Establish boundaries with others
Individuals fail to communicate their boundaries regarding their lives to others and their supervisors. If your boss has asked you to complete a project even after working hours, you need to show denial in that situation. Communicate with them that you cannot work at that moment.
There is no harm in helping colleagues regarding you to do a few things relating to help with their work. However, it is important to communicate that now you cannot work as it is your time off.
It has been proven and observed that meditation helps you to get your senses together. Many people have reported that it allows you to increase productivity. We see individuals saying that either they do not get the time to meditate, or even if they do, they cannot focus.
What can be the reason behind this situation?
The skill of meditation is not very difficult. However, the hardest part is that one needs to get their thoughts into the present and not do anything but breathe and sit. As we discussed, individuals cannot think of anything besides their work, even on their day off; this can be challenging for them.
Meditation helps you to learn to live in the present moment rather than anticipating future actions.
To summarise today’s subject, it is of high importance to take care of our own mental health. The first step towards setting boundaries is to understand that work is not your life; it is a part of your life. Take time off for yourself and your close ones. This will help you to overcome current tensions and pressures.
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