We've all been there - those days or weeks when you can feel how your job is slowly but surely in the process of swallowing you up. I recently went through a couple of weeks where the hours in each day were just not enough to get things done.
We all have natural ways of coping with pressure (some more effective than others), but I found that the simple things make the biggest difference for me:
- Schedule me-time everyday: While everything around you is competing for your attention, it helps to schedule a time slot to do ONLY what you enjoy doing. You have to literally slot it in on your calendar and approach it like a meeting you are not allowed to miss. I enjoy sitting in a coffee shop with a book (not work-related of course) or doing some window shopping on my own. What works for you?
- Remember to breathe - Sounds simple enough, but when we are hunched over in front of our computers all day we rarely take a moment to take a couple of deep, long breaths and stretch out as far and wide as we can. Not rocket science, not time consuming. More oxygen to your brain means better concentration and less stress.
- Switch off you phone: Don't switch it to silent, don't keep it in your pocket. When you have your me-time, make an effort of cutting of that connection to the ever-demanding world of emails and messages. The world will NOT end if you are out of reach for one or two hours every now and then...
- Go for a jog: Or a swim. Or whatever gets your heart pumping for a while. I really don't like to exercise, but the effect it has on my mood, concentration, appetite and sleeping patterns is amazing. I do it because it works. When I feel exhausted the last thing I want to do is put on my running shoes, but those 45 minutes on the treadmill is such a great stress-reliever. I am never sorry that I went for a work-out!
- Ask someone to check in on you: When I can see that things are about to get tough at work I ask a good friend of mine to keep me accountable. She asks me if I'm sticking to my regular eating/sleeping/exercise routines. I don't know if accountability works for everyone, but you'll only know if you try it at least once. This helps me focus on the bigger picture and reminds me that work is not everything.
- Control the things you can: I'm reminded of the scene in Julie & Julia, where Julie Powell says to her husband: “You know what I love about cooking? I love that after a day when nothing is sure – and when I say nothing, I mean nothing – you can come home and absolutely know that if you add egg yolks to chocolate and sugar and milk, it will get thick. That’s such a comfort.” What are the things that feel "sure" to you when a day it work has been everything BUT sure?
- See your friends: Without a few cheerleaders of our own, life will be a lot harder than it has to be. Knowing that you have friends who accept and enjoy you just the way you are can make any tough time easier. Ensuring that you don't neglect your social calender even though work keeps you busy can really help you prevent burn-out.