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‘Switching Off’ for the Holiday Season?

Here’s what you can do to help restore mental and physical energy while away from work….

'Switching Off' from work can be very difficult

In fact, personally, it takes me at least 3 days to stop worrying about missing an important email, or waking up in the middle of the night with a shock – “There’s something I forgot to do!!” (You know the feeling).

So what can we do to really, truly (and quickly) switch our brains ‘Off’ for the holiday season this year. Read on to find out ThreeSixty’s ‘Switch Off Suggestions’. 

The secret is to practice something called “Psychological Detachment” – the ability to mentally disconnect and not think about work-related issues when you are away from your job.

Successful detachment from the work-place is known to enable you to recover more effectively and benefit more from your downtime, so that when you’re back at work you feel restored and able to undertake work tasks more effectively.

“Much easier said than done” you might be thinking. Me too. 

Psychologist Sabine Sonnentag has researched this particular skill, and found that those who were able to psychologically detach outside of work experienced many benefits – less fatigue, more positive emotion, greater overall wellbeing, improved relationships outside of work, and less conflict between the demands of their work and their family. And of course, return to work feeling refreshed and ready for action again. 

Here's some suggestions to help you succeed

#1 – Identify which activities help you detach from work

We all have things in life that give us energy, or take energy away. What are those things for you? 

We live in a beautiful part of the country – with Wenderholm and Shakespeare Regional Parks right on our doorstep. There’s nothing like being out and about in nature with good friends or family (and being a bit puffed out) to take your mind away from work and bring you into the present.

Plus, kids love a ‘treasure hunt’ along the way.

If you’re too exhausted for walking or tramping, or are prevented from doing so by aches and pains (come and see us) – you can always take a picnic blanket or chair and a good book and sit under a shady tree.

This is one of my favourite things to do, plus add in eating a very cold, big fat juicy orange – it really bring me into the here and now, and helps me appreciate the smallest but most pleasurable things in life.

#2 – Create habits which help you disconnect from your job

I read somewhere a long time ago, that when we get home from work, we tend to off-load our stresses from the day (or week) onto our partner – like having a hot potato “simmering” all the way home and then immediately ‘passing it on’ to our family. 

What can you do, at the end of every day / week / when you finish for the Christmas break to draw a line in the sand, as such, and arrive home ready to be the best version of you possible. 

If you have a long drive to get home from work, perhaps you could listen to some very loud music, or even something relaxing like pan pipes – as long as it doesn’t put you to sleep of course!

What about keeping a small diary or booklet in the car, and making a few notes of things to remember next week / year / when you return. That way (because you know they’re going to come into your mind as you’re driving along the road) you’ll have gotten them out of your brain, and you wont be stressing about them over the holiday period. 

During the early Covid days when we were able to re-commence working, I got into the habit of taking a shower at the end of my work shift, and then putting on fresh clothes before collecting my daughter from school. It didn’t take long and really felt like I was starting afresh for the evening. Perhaps you too could literally ‘wash away your day’ and mentally enter into a different frame of mind for the evening / weekend / holiday?

What habits or practices could you put in place as a psychological or physical ‘line in the sand’, ready for holiday relaxation?

#3 Actually switch ‘off’ from work

This will involve some personal ‘policing’ – you have to actually take physical steps to tell the world – “I’m not available right now”.

For example: Setting up your out of office email auto-reply;

Turning off the work phone (change your voice greeting including the dates you’ll be uncontactable for);

Connecting with your regular work contacts in advance to let them know you’ll be away shortly, and who can help them in your absence.

If it helps, you can even put a label on a ‘special’ box, and put everything work-related in there that you come across over the holiday time, so that you know A) you wont lose it; and B) you wont for get about it and C) you have a plan for the little way that life has of trying to sabotage your great progress.

Then set aside some time to go through this prior to returning to work (e.g. the day before) because you know what usually happens after any break is that the ‘to do’s pile up. Even just knowing that can ruin your great attempts of Psychological Detachment.

You know it is going to happen. Plan for it to happen, at a designated time or day, of your choice.

Good luck to everyone - let us know how you got on over the holiday period, next time we see you.

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