How to Recover From Work

By | May 7, 2020 | |

Find out what could help you heal from burnout.

Nowadays, many people are experiencing that working is no longer clocking in at 9:00 am and clocking out at 5:00 pm. Work is now physically or virtually arriving between 7:00 am and 10:00 am and leaving between 3:00 pm and 6:00 pm, all while juggling personal phone calls, work e-mails, doctor’s appointments, social media, conference calls, news reports, in-person meetings, the list goes on. At home, the work phone still buzzes from colleagues around the world or from people burning the midnight oil. There is no longer a concept of ‘work-life balance’ but now a concept of ‘work-life integration’. We now have more tasks to squeeze into a day, without scheduled ‘on’ and ‘off’ times for each task. 

​This integration is particularly problematic when new research has now shown that we need fully detach in order to recover.  Researcher Bakker and his colleagues recently published a meta-analysis* to help us understand what helps us recover from all the hard work we expend during the day. What did they find? Some findings seem to be common sense. For example, all demands will make us more fatigued. Demands such as job ambiguity, conflict with others, overload etc. will make us feel fatigued. However, some demands will also invigorate us like solving complex problems or achieving results under a tight deadline.  The less ‘common sense’ results were how to recover from these demands. ​

​*A meta-analysis is where a researcher examines all the available studies on a topic and statistically combines them to see overall what effect they have

There are four typical ways people recover from work:

  1. Control (e.g., schedule their evening or next day to reduce chaos)
  2. Relaxation (e.g., nap, be a couch potato)
  3. Mastery (e.g., take a night class, learn a musical instrument)
  4. Detachment (e.g., mentally check out, completely submerge into another task)
Source: Photo by Kelvin Valerio from Pexels

Okay, so what did the research say was the best technique? Of course, the answer is “it depends”!

If you experiencing fatiguing demands during your day, the best thing you can do is to detach to rejuvenate. Some examples of how to detach include turning off your work email/phone, engaging in group activities, or reading. Detaching will allow you to complete your home tasks without distraction allowing you to focus solely on work the next day. It will also allow you to sleep better at night by stopping any ruminations over tomorrow’s workday.

If you facing invigorating demands, the best thing you can do is control. Scheduling your work and non-work tasks will allow you to keep control of your demands, ensuring they remain a source of energy rather than become a source of fatigue. Other suggestions on how to control your demands are to make to-do lists and set daily, weekly, and monthly goals. Having greater control will increase your self-efficacy and allow you to feel that you accomplished more.

Even though the research found these are the best techniques, it doesn’t mean ignore the other techniques. If you can, combine them! For instance, meditation will allow you to detach and relax. Using multiple techniques will have an incremental effect to reduce your fatigue. 

Overall, although work-life integration can increase flexibility and autonomy, we run the risk of not recovering from our demands. Ensure you schedule time to detach to avoid burnout and to remain energized at work.  

Blog Author:

Lauren Florko, Ph.D., is an industrial and organizational psychologist based in Vancouver, British Columbia. She is the owner of Triple Threat Consulting.

Reproduced after appropriate permissions from original author . Original link

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