Productivity goes down when stress goes up

Relaxing after work can be hard in our over-stimulated world but researchers are proving that “switching off” improves well-being and productivity.

How to know when to switch off from work

The necessary step to switching off, and sometimes the hardest one, is recognising the need to do it. Taking the time to take stock of where things may be going awry can unlock important answers.It is important to know when to switch off, and how to flick the switch. If you find carving out quiet time challenging, try starting small, even if it is only five minutes a day,


7 guilt-free ways to switch off 

Step back. Give yourself an opportunity to disconnect. Turn off phone notifications and sign out of social media. Be open to asking for help or delegating. Say no to more demands on your time.

Reduce the tech. Useful as smartphones and email are, the downside is constant connectivity, so work is difficult to leave behind. Make a conscious effort to leave work at the office: don’t check for business messages at home, and find a form of recreation that does not involve a screen.

Get creative. Keeping a journal, as well as undertaking non-work writing, is a good way to clear the mind. It can help to build imagination and “mindfulness”. Drawing, or even going to an art gallery, can provide a pathway to preventing overload and resetting the brain.

Take rest breaks. After every 20 minutes of sitting at your workstation, take a short walk away from it. When you finish a long phone call, take four slow, steady breaths. At the end of the day, change out of your work clothes into casual ones.

Organise time for yourself. This might include taking up a sport, going on a camping trip, spending time with the family, wandering through a plant nursery or a botanical garden – and while doing so do not thinking about anything work-related.

Take a few deep breaths. At the start and end of each day, and after incidents of stress, take a series of deep breaths. Focus on the depth of each breath, and count the duration of each breath. A good rate of breathing is between 10 and 14 breaths a minute.

Put aside the guilt. Fighting workplace stress through organised relaxation means moving from quantity of hours to quality of output. Making time for yourself, and caring for your mental and physical health, will lead to greater effectiveness. Breaking your routine patterns of work can lead to improved innovation and productivity.