Relaxation life’s illusive elixir.
Coping with stress at work is the one aspect of life that seems to elude us particularly in the current economic climate.
In my last blog aiming to get the balance between work, family and life is practically impossible.
The demands placed on us daily are often insurmountable and impossibly difficult to accomplish.
Yet the more we put pressure on ourselves to relax the more the state of relaxation becomes a self-defeating prophecy.
Everyday our inboxes are inundated with new ways to manage stress headlines that titillate like how to de-stress naturally, 10 easy ways to relax, how to make time to relax.
Making us even more fraught and anxious as the need to relax adds more pressure on the way we live because we know that relaxation is key to managing stress. To thrive and perform well at work we need to be able to switch off.
According to the UK Commission for Employment and Skills UK workers are under more pressure than ever before. The latest findings from the 2012 report show that 40% of workers are required to work at high-speed and 60% work under the pressure of tight deadlines.
The lines between work and home have become increasingly blurred.
Technology means that people can work from home, mobile offices, during their commute.
Workers can be contacted on holiday at weekends even when they are asleep and with the added fear of losing their jobs never has there been a time when employees feel so insecure in the work place.
Fear of losing jobs is at the forefront of employees minds with one in four expressing worry about being unemployed.
The report also found that technology has had a significant impact on workers lives increàsed accessibility to employees via technological devices because of increased competitiveness due to the recession and rising levels of unemployment have all had an impact on the balance of power between employees and employers.
In a recent survey conducted by Mother and Baby Magazine, six out of 10 working mothers felt guilty about leaving their children. Over a 1,000 women in the survey from CEO to retail assistant wanted to spend more time with their children.
94% said that going to work provided them with financial and emotional independence and they felt they were setting a good example to children but the trade off meant they missed out watching their offspring develop.
The impetus for women to return to work is the increased financial pressure as a result of the recession the UK is in despite rising costs in childcare.
The partners of the women respondents interviewed in the survey also felt they were missing out and wanted to participate in assisting with the upbringing of their children by staying at home too but this is not financially viable as men still earn more than women on average.
The government’s child benefit changes which came into effect earlier this year have meant that the number of stay at home mothers has also fallen to its lowest level in 20 years.
If one or both parents have a joint income of over £50,000 a year no child benefit worth £1,752 for two children is available. Even if one of the partners earns nothing the entitlement is no longer paid out.
With the rising fear of job losses, decline in job satisfaction due to the constant high-speed pressures, loss of status in the work place and the added financial pressures on men and women alike to provide a joint house-hold income how do any of us make the time to relax in the face of such stark realities.
There are many well meaning articles on the importance of de-stressing from taking up yoga, SPA holidays, a lavender bath before bed-time, switching off all technology before retiring to bed. The list is endless.
As a working mother relaxation for me doesn’t come easy. I can’t sit still for too long as I fidget being an active person I’m always on the go so I find it difficult to switch off.
At the start of 2013 I decided that I needed to find some time in my working day to relax and de-clutter my mind so let me share with you what I do.
It works for me and I hope it might help you.
Schedule 20 minutes in to your working day at whatever time suits you.
Firstly, switch off all means of communication – mobiles, PC’s, laptops, take yourself off line. If you are a social media addict coming in my next blog then stay off it.
The world will not not end if no-one hears from you for twenty minutes.
Set an alarm on your watch, phone or clock. Stare out of the window, lie down, sit in the back of your chair, relax your head and neck, stare at the ceiling, stare out of the window, do not do anything work related and do not think about ANYTHING.
Empty your mind of all the clutter. EMPTY IT.
I am sharing this with you as I speak from experience. It took me the best part of 20+ years to get deep into time/relax management and I now plan my week to allow for 20 minutes during my work day to do just what I have described.
Boy it took some discipline but unless it’s planned in to the diary then guess what I don’t do it.
At the end of my 20 minutes which I usually substitute as my lunch period I look out of my window and in the distance I can see the hills, blue or grey skies, trees.
I’ve learn’t to really see the world differently, notice shapes and colours more. Sometimes I close my eyes and I feel myself drifting which is why the alarm is important.
Your twenty minutes can be in your work day, or after you leave the office sit in the car put your seat back and relax for 20 minutes before you drive home, you’ll be surprised how much more attentive you’ll be when you walk through the front door.
It should be at anytime of your choosing away from distractions or from anyone who is likely to barge in on your 20 minutes but should be within your working day.
Although I’m a runner and exercise a lot sometimes I take a brisk walk out of the office watch the cars as they pass by and clear my mind I don’t use this time to think about work as it is defeating the purpose.
How has my work pattern changed?
I can see solutions to problems more clearly because I’ve completely switched off my mind and not allowed it to think of anything in those 20 minutes or so I come back to my desk with a clear mind and I feel calmer.
My breathing is deeper rather than the usual shallow breathing associated with stress.
But what has surprised me the most is having better clarity over things which at the time I thought were impossible but in reality were only small blots on the landscape.
It takes discipline. Discipline to make the time and ‘pen’ or program it into your diary and discipline to follow through.
The 20 minute mind rest plan should not be confused with leaving work and relaxing in the evening.
This is finding time in your work day to have a brief respite to clear and free your mind from worry and stress and when you come back to your work/desk you’ll realise that nothing is insurmountable.
After all what’s the worst that can happen ‘ýou lose your job’, you’re unemployed, it may sound awful and you maybe be fearful, but no-one has died have they, you still have a family, a home to go back too and the likelihood of it happening is remote.
Worrying at work to such a degree will impact your work and home life so severely that stress impedes your thinking, you lose sight of reality and what’s really important to you.
Twenty minutes helps you to switch off your mind, re-focus and then you come back to the desk and see problems in a different context.
Here’s a screenshot of one of my days.
It may not be the answer to all your problems and it is no magic wand but try it for a month and let me know what you feel at the end of it.
Remember you must make it a part of your daily routine like brushing your teeth or showering, it must become integral to you so much so that if you miss a day you’ll know you’ve really missed it.
What do you do to relax?
Share your comments with me by leaving a note in the box below.
Until next time.
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