It’s no secret that workplace stress is on the rise. Industry competition is high, stakes are even higher, and humans are human: it doesn’t take long for anxiety to take hold.
From sharing information about EAPs for personal stressors, to bringing massages into the office to loosen up team members, to painting walls to lighten the mood, HR and employers are ideating around the clock to alleviate stress for their team members. With a calling in a field that focuses on satisfaction and productivity of everyone around them, it’s easy for HR professionals to forget that they’re people who need to unplug, too.
But how? We know the stats, and while we spend hours coaching leaders and managers on how to manage their careers and time, we often find ourselves feeling behind. Emails pile up, team members wait on responses, projects simmer in the flames and on the backburner: time is a valuable resource we can’t seem to get ahold of ourselves. We accept it as our reality and we charge on: at least we’re doing what we love, after all.
While we’re passionate about our work, giving in to chaos and disregarding our own mental health is risky. Not only is recharging crucial for our employees, but it’s imperative for us. If your work drives you, that’s great! Setting a routine that allows you to relax but still feel on top of your priorities is possible. While the “perfect” routine will vary from person to person, below are a few tips to get you started if you’re looking for a change!
- Throughout the week, write stuff down. Whether you like to email notes to yourself, block your calendar, or use apps like Reminders or Todoist (highly recommend that second one), putting all of your priorities and tasks in writing allows you to see what lies ahead, and takes loads of stressful weight off your shoulders. Helpful hint: don’t use 3 or 4 different apps or methods to do this, it only causes you to have to check multiple resources and can further overwhelm you.
- Before the weekend starts, set aside time to prepare for the week ahead. The last 30-45 minutes of each Friday – or your last workday of the week – view what remains on your to do list, glance at your calendar of the week ahead, and close out time-sensitive items that must be dealt with that week, or reschedule the rest as needed. This allows you to enter your weekend relieved that everything pending will be handled, so you can focus on the present moment and truly regroup.
- Speaking of focusing on the present moment, practice mindfulness to bring closure to your workweek and enter your weekend with a sense of purpose. While trying to clear your mind may seem to be an act of futility at first, with too many thoughts whirling, stick with it: countless studies tout the benefits of mindfulness on our productivity and mental clarity, which yields benefits both at home and work. Whether you prefer to journal, take a fitness class, or meditate (another recommendation: Calm is a helpful app for beginners), taking this time for yourself will allow you to step out of a haze and see your own work in a new light. Both you and your employees will win!
- Step away. Get outdoors, work out, or spend work-free time with friends and/or family. While it’s hard to ignore emails or unplug as HR (emergencies do happen), you can give yourself designated time to check or neglect your inbox during the weekend. Whether this means logging in only once in the morning or evening to browse for truly urgent needs, taking the email app off your phone, or turning off push notifications, make it easier to focus on personal time by making it more difficult for work tasks to pop onto your radar. While it may feel more chaotic at first, like mindfulness, it eventually allows you to return to your tasks refreshed and with new insight.
- Own Sunday nights (or Monday mornings). If you’re stressed about your workweek coming around: ask yourself “why?” and go from there. Anxious about an overflowing inbox? Take 30 minutes the night before or that morning to scan and organize your emails, so you aren’t surprised when you get into the office. Deadline looming? Take 5 to map out a plan to tackle it step-by-step throughout the week. The key here is that work-life balance looks different to everyone: if ignoring the elephant in the room makes life worse for you, take some time to address it so you can feel better and move on.
Again, while the above works for me, the thing to remember is: “You run the day, or the day runs you.” – Jim Rohn. How we spend our time is our choice, even if it doesn’t always feel that way. Dedicating time to yourself, getting organized, and recharging are crucial and attainable, and there are multiple ways to get there! & don’t forget, if your anxiety is more than a few routine tweaks can tackle, you can use your company’s Employee Assistance Plan, too. From conversations with mental health professionals to free articles and webinars and more, there are ways to get more help and support, from people who are happy to help you.
What about you, #HRTribe? What are your favorite recharge tricks? Always excited to learn more and try new things, and I hope this helped some of you, too!