How to Take a Break in a Work-A-Holic World

You work hard; you play hard, right? But what happens if you never play? You might be considered a work-a-holic, and if so, today is your day! Work-a-holics Day celebrates the triumphs and accomplishments achieved by working constantly. Getting “in the zone” is easy while working on a big project, but working long hours on a consistent basis affects your health, personal life and even your quality of work. It’s time to hit pause and take a break.

Overworking can lead to both mental and physical health issues. Oftentimes, individuals who work more than eight hours per day feel fatigued and have a harder time keeping their mind focused on work. This can lead to mental health issues such as sleep deprivation, stress, depression or anxiety, which can take a toll on your quality of work and client relationships. Additionally, sitting at a desk all day can have a negative impact on your health. Even with exercise, people who sit for more than eight hours a day are at a higher risk of diabetes, obesity, cancer and heart attacks.

Not only does working too much have a negative effect on health, it can also put a strain on your personal life. Juggling the demands of a job, the needs of your family and an active social life are difficult. With communication at our fingertips, it makes it easier for a work-a-holic to never completely shut down, even working while at dinner or on vacation.

Take a break

Taking a break isn’t always easy; work needs to get done, and someone has to do it. If you are self-employed or own a business, it’s even harder to get away. However, the break from work is necessary, so even if you aren’t able to cut back hours, try focusing on the areas of life you can control.

1. Plan a vacation (or two).

Don’t be afraid to take a few days off (or even a full week!) a couple of times a year to spend time with your loved ones and leave the stress of work at the office. Taking a full week off might be difficult, so try planning a vacation around another holiday such as Memorial Day or Labor Day to minimize the days out of the office.

2. Leave work at work.

When you leave for the day, set your out of office email so people will know not to expect an immediate reply. If you’re not able to do that every day or need to be available in the evenings, try scheduling an hour or so around dinner to turn off phones and laptops to spend uninterrupted time with family.

3. Take a few minutes.

Take a few minutes every hour to relax your eyes, stretch, listen to a song or take a walk around the block. Sitting and staring at a computer all day can be exhausting. Set an alarm on your watch or phone every hour to remind you to take a break.

4. Create a workout schedule.

Exercise not only improves physical health, but it will also boost energy and increase alertness. Try scheduling workouts with a buddy to help hold you accountable. If you know you’re supposed to meet a friend for a walk or attend a workout class at 5:30 p.m., it will be easier to leave work on time.

5. Plan events proactively.

Having a social event on your calendar gives you something to look forward to. You’ll also have an extra incentive to manage your time wisely to avoid rescheduling. Try planning a month in advance so that it’s already scheduled on your calendar. Make it a priority.

6. Limit your unproductive activities.

Time spent watching TV or YouTube videos, gossiping by the copier or checking social media goes by faster than you realize. When you start to do these activities, think about the work you need to get done, the time you want to spend with your family or that new book you’ve been dying to read. When you think about the things you’d rather be doing or need to be doing, the latest episode of a TV show becomes a lot less important.

7. Be realistic.

You know what you can accomplish in eight hours. Be honest with your clients and co-workers and let them know when you need to push the deadline back a day or two. Communication is key. Have a discussion about expectations and set realistic deadlines.

While having a strong work ethic is essential to success, it’s vital to take some time off to spend with your loved ones and relax your mind and body. Studies have shown that even brief distractions can boost productivity and creativity. Furthermore, with brainpower expending 20 percent of your body’s calories, that energy needs to be restored – proving that playing hard is just as important as working hard.

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