Are you happy or exhausted at work? It's certainly not news in this economy that companies are not adding new employees at a significant rate. With drastic cutbacks in workforce I have been hearing constantly for months from clients about the frustration and stress they are currently experiencing at work as one person having to do the work of two and three people. I have a number of clients who have conveyed experiences of having to cut the departments they manage in half, while their work load stays the same or increases.
I am witnessing severe burn-out and heightened levels of exhaustion and frustration. At the same time that clients voice their frustrations I also hear, "But in this market, I am just grateful to have a job!" This is understandable, but on average we spend 70 percent of our lives working. Consider, therefore, that even in the most challenging of circumstances it is critical to do what it takes to recharge and maintain your health, energy and positive outlook at work.
The tips below specifically address strategies to help manage exhaustion and keep your energy levels raised.
Take Regular Breaks
In The Power of Full Engagement John Loehr and Tony Schwartz came up with an energy management system based on years of experience studying Olympic level athletes. They made a couple of fascinating discoveries. Among those include the obvious, though sometimes overlooked fact that recovery from an output of energy (physical or mental) is critical. In the work environment this translates to taking breaks at regular intervals. Specifically, it is best to take a 15 minute break every 90 minutes. If you work in front of a computer, checking e-mail does not constitute a break. Allow yourself to take breaks that include getting up from your desk, taking a walk, leaving the building and drinking water.
Also breaking up your work by alternating mentally demanding tasks with simple busy work can help maintain the energy necessary to keep your mental focus throughout the day.
Dissolve your energy vacuums:
A toleration is anything that you are putting up with on a regular basis either physical, mental or emotional that vacuums your energy. Perhaps there is a project in your queue that you haven't started because you are feeling overwhelmed (see my article on managing overwhelm), perhaps there is a co-worker who is constantly coming to you to gossip and wastes your time in negative energy. What can you do to dissolve these energy drains? Eliminating gossip may be as simple as communicating to this co-worker that you would prefer not to gossip. In regard to overwhelming projects , begin to take the steps to break them down. Delegate what can be delegated and identify tasks that need to be accomplished and a timeline in which to accomplish them. You may be surprised to see your energy raise simply by addressing the issues.
Generally speaking we live in a society where many people's breathing is too shallow. And, as the work day goes on and hours have been spent in front of a computer monitor or sitting in a conference board room, breathing tends to get even shallower leaving you with too little oxygen to keep your energy level up. As a matter of fact, when you're sitting all day, your heart is working overtime to pump the blood that would normally be supported by unused muscles (i.e. leg movement supports blood circulation). Therefore, take a few breaks throughout the day to focus on deep breathing. For a series of at least five to 10 breaths, focus on exhaling all of the stale breath out of your body and on inhaling oxygen deeply into your abdomen. As you inhale, in your mind's eye imagine that you are allowing breath to flow to all areas of your body and that you are literally recharging yourself
Leave it where it belongs (work at work)
Something that I have practiced myself and encourage others to practice is the act of leaving work at work. One way I have encouraged others to do this is by taking five minutes before leaving the office to take a piece of paper, and actually write down the work items that you feel may plague your mind after you leave the office. For instance, perhaps you didn't quite get everything done that you intended for a project that day or perhaps there is a challenging conversation you have to have with a boss or co-worker when you return to the office the next morning. Write it all out, rip it up, and put it in the trash can (as long as you have your items on a calendar or another list) as you rip it up, state to yourself, "I am leaving these concerns at work, I am not taking them out of the office with me, I am choosing peace and I am choosing to be fully present wherever I am after I leave here today."
Eat sensibly and exercise
Avoid the sugar, cake, soda, etc. that is often too pervasive in typical office environments. Obviously, food loaded in sugar will elicit energy crashes, not to mention make you fat. This is also true for a lunch heavy in carbohydrates. Also, one way to recharge during the day is to engage in some exercise during your lunch hour. A simple brisk walk around the block will help.
If you are doing the work of two, three, or four people as a result of cutbacks at your company I strongly urge you to accept that it is highly unlikely that you will actually get all of your work done. Moving into acceptance of this probability will support you in reducing your stress, which is often the culprit in exhaustion. In addition, simply acknowledge yourself. In a gentle way, let yourself know that you are doing the best you can, and that you deserve to take good care of yourself regardless of the circumstances.
It is understandable that during the chaos we are still experiencing in the realm of employment, unemployment and company cutbacks that people are unwilling to leave less than desirable working circumstances. I also know how easy it is in the midst of exorbitant stress to let simple, self-supportive actions like the ones outlined here to slip away. Nonetheless, it is always within your circle of influence to choose how you manage yourself. This in itself actually leads to a shift in energy, perspective, and even the circumstances themselves.
So even on the days that you feel you don't have it in you to take a small action to recharge, you do! I encourage you to take one tiny action that will lead you in the direction of more energy and even more satisfaction.