switch off - when you are overworked and overstimulated

Learn to switch off and relax for optimal performance in your work

If you are anything like me, you are not a stranger to that point in the day when you can’t take in a single more useful piece of information. It can happen at about the same time when you notice that your brain will not cooperate, by providing any more bright ideas. At that point, it is helpful to have methods for how to effectively switch off.

It makes sense that we often get to this point. In the beginning stages of a business, it feels important to work long hours to make your business successful. Add study to that, and a day job, and it can feel even more important to squeeze as much productivity as possible, out of every single moment of the day and week.

The problem is, that if you don’t take adequate time to refresh and rejuvenate your brain, you may find that your productivity and capacity for creative thinking, even during working hours is reduced. Research shows that people who switch off from their work completely for a period every day, are more productive and creative during the hours when they should be at work.

switch off in nature - cafe at ngv

To that end, here is a list of activities that you can do to switch off when you get to that point in the day when you are mentally exhausted, or hopefully well before that point:

1. Exercise

Perhaps the best way to wind down and to ‘get out of your head’ is to do some kind of physical activity. This could be an evening walk, or a dance class, or a weight session at the gym, some team sport, or a run. Anything that encourages you to turn your focus from using your brain to using your body, can be very rejuvenating.

Not only is physical exercise good for your health, but it has lasting impacts on your capacity for intelligent thought too. Being fit and healthy helps you make better decisions, faster and with more accuracy. That is why racing car drivers, who travel at speeds in excess of 200 km an hour are expected to be in a highly fit condition. It allows them to make important decisions in split seconds.

switch off by getting some exercise - for example dancing

2. Social life

Work can be very rewarding, and hopefully your work has a social aspect to it. However, for those people who tend to work constantly, it can negatively impact on the quality of your social relationships.

Take time to nurture your connections. Ring a friend in the evening, or make a plan to catch up with a friend on the weekend. We are social animals and friendship is very important to us. Friendship is not something that grows on trees. It requires your input. If your friends don’t feel like you value them and are interested in them, then you will drift apart.

Spending time with friends, can boost your mood and make your life happier. Reach out!

switch off - do something social

3. Do something creative like photography

Photography is definitely my go to activity when I am feeling overwhelmed and overstimulated. It can be very refreshing to browse through your own photographs, other people’s photographs, or better still get out and take some photography of your own.

Most smart phones have great cameras and you will be rewarded with a large library of increasingly sophisticated images if you engage in photography as a creative hobby.

switch off - photography or creative pursuits

Other creative things you can do include writing (I am writing this blog post as an antidote to overstimulation), music, art work such as drawing or painting or sewing. Any of these activities engages the right hand side of your brain. And gives you a break from work related thought processes.

4. Get into nature

Have you ever noticed how refreshing a green open space, or the open vista at a beach can be? This can be especially true if you live and work in the city. Open up Google Maps and look for a park or open space nearby you. Taking time to let your brain and body relax in nature will have a huge impact on your stress levels and your general level of health.

It is amazing how being in nature with trees can affect your mood.

switch off - photography or other creative pursuit

5. Meditation, relaxation or mindfulness

A sure fire way to both reduce your stress levels if you are working a lot, and to actually increase the grey matter in your brain is to practice meditation or mindfulness. There are some great apps on your smart phone that will provide great guided sessions for you to listen to. Calm is one great app and for mindfulness Meditainment is supposed to be very good.

It is a fast and effective way to bring your awareness back to your breath. It can help in your every day work and life. Because it can teach you to maintain your focus, and to ignore distractions. It can also have a huge impact on your general happiness levels.

Sharing ways to switch off from work

These are just some ways that I have found for getting the most out of downtime away from work. They may seem quite simple. The trick is to notice when you need to utilise one of these strategies. And have a strategy at hand for when you are overstimulated. Remember, the more effectively you can ‘switch off’ in your leisure time, and really give your mind a break, the more productive you will be at work or in your business.

What are some methods you have found useful to ‘switch off’ from your work mindset?

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