Overwhelmed at work? Try a ‘mental refresh’

The best solution is to have a job that is not overly demanding. Yeah, right.

Most of us members of the “Professional 99%” have been running to keep up with the pressures and changes in how we work in our “always on, always with us” workplace. Combined with an economy that has struggled to bring us much beyond more pressure, it is no wonder many of us are in a state of “brownout.”.

So what to do?

The best solution would be to address the root cause: Have a job that is not overly demanding. However, that’s probably not practical. Most professional jobs are stressful, so there really isn’t truly green grass available to us. Instead, we need to build strategies to give ourselves a “mental refresh” to deal with our reality. Many of these strategies will help raise our game.

How to deal with co-workers with more faces than Big Ben.

  • Meditation. This is a hot trend right now, and companies such as Google and Goldman Sachs are big believers. When you think about the benefits you will understand why. Meditation is a way of taking a break from our overloaded world and clearing your mind. It can be practiced by repeating a mantra or just focusing on your breathing (easier said than done, but worth trying). The reported benefits include better decision making, sharper memory and improved interpersonal communication and listening skills. And, of course, lower stress levels. If you are interested, read 10% Happier by Dan Harris. It is a hugely accessible and a short read to boot.
  • Read a book. Get into the habit of having a book on hand (I like thrillers, but it could be anything: romance, fantasy etc.) That is not going to challenge you, but instead, is something in which you can lose yourself and so relax.
  • Take time out. Acupuncture, yoga or even a 30-minute massage can give you a timeout and a chance to slow your racing brain. While acupuncture, in particular, may seem like a “new age” thing to do, try not to think like that. Instead, view it as a way to get back into balance by forcing you to turn off all devices and media and then purposefully relax.
  • Get a real interest. Have you noticed how people who have a real interest outside of work are more refreshed come Monday morning? I know one designer who enjoys Sunday-morning watercolor painting. Others I know swear by the benefits of sports, walking and running. It’s not a radical concept, but just a reminder: Find your own interest to refresh yourself.
  • Take a vacation. Getting a refresh through a vacation is an established route to enjoying your life. In my book Early Stage Professional: starting off right, I highlight how important it is to take vacations. We Americans find it very hard to take time out. You may think that taking your vacation will harm your career. It won’t! Plan ahead and take vacation outside your business’ peak season and you will be just fine.
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    Warning: Avoid smartphone shame at work. Keep them out of sight.

    If you find that even getting a mental refresh is tough, you could try lightening the load by outsourcing more of your tasks. In the same way that we have become used to pre-cooked or delivery meals and shopping online, as well as employing an apartment cleaner or gardener, we’re seeing growth in virtual personal assistants provided by companies such as Time etc. They may seem like a luxury, but by having an assistant help with those mundane but time-consuming tasks such as filing expense reports, you could find that the cost is worth it. It could be just the thing to help you get your busy life back into balance.

    Let me know if you have other ways of dealing with our overwhelming lives at [email protected], I look forward to hearing from you and trying some of your tips! Fergus Mellon is author of “Early Stage Professional: starting off right, a book for professionals in their early career years.”.

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