Wellbeing Series: Switching Off

You need to learn to switch off!

Great advice right! And if it was that easy, we’d just flick a switch off in our minds every time we walked out of the office at the end of the day.

The reality is, its really bloody hard to ‘just switch off.’ Our minds are full of unfinished business; to do lists, conversations, actions arising form meetings etc and before the day is done, we are already thinking about what we need to tackle the next day.

Often, we underestimate the emotional impact of our work on our life outside of work.

Here’s a beautiful activity to help you begin to release your mind from your working day so that you can be more intentional about letting go of of what’s been and being more present in your evenings. Give it a try, you’ll only need a pen, paper and a timer on your mobile phone.

Gift yourself with 15 minutes before you intend to leave your workplace. Ensure you’re somewhere where you won’t be interrupted.

Sit with your pen and paper and set your phone timer for ten minutes.

Use a simple sentence starter for your writing such as ‘I am’ or ‘I feel’.

Start writing… get out everything that is going round and round in your mind and weighing heavy on your heart.. Don’t stop writing.. let it come.. let it flow … with no concern for spelling, grammar, handwriting… just keep going. And going. It doesn’t matter what comes out, this is for your eyes only. Let is be emotional, venting, angry, sweary…. Whatever it needs to be. Keep going until the timer stops.

Now, take a deep breath. And another, and another.

Set your timer for a further 5 minutes.

Re-read your writing with a rational brain now. What have you written that is of real concern? What can you let go of? What can wait? Can you label any sentences with the emotions attached to them?

Writing a stream of consciousness allows us to free up more space in our mind, and be more intentional about letting go and switching off each day. By getting those thoughts out of your head and onto paper, you’re doing something intentional and tangible to release and process the emotional baggage (any guilt, fear, resentment, anxiety, inner criticism) built up during the day, to help you switch off and bring you more peace.

Better still, try screwing up the paper and binning it before you leave work. It’s done, dusted, and left behind.

Wellbeing Series: Energetic boundaries

Here’s a reframe for you. Start thinking of tasks and experiences in terms of energy instead of time. If you think about the tasks you do and the interactions you have in terms of energy, you start to think more realistically about what you’ve got to give to that situation. The weight of the emotional energy you carry building up to, and coming down from a challenging task needs to be considered.

Here’s an example. If you think about the time that it takes to hold a transparent conversation with a team member (and note, I‘ve used the term transparent conversation as opposed to difficult/fierce - intentional vocabulary) you may be fooled into thinking about the length of time that conversation will take to hold. But the truth is, you’ll spend a lot of your energy before hand thinking about that conversation; imagining it, making assumptions about it, worrying about it, practicing it… whatever it is that you do in the lead up to that conversation. And what about the energy you spend after the conversation? Analysing it, overthinking it, actions that may arise from it, retelling it to others… We don’t always allow ourselves time for that, but it does take up time. It takes up energy.

When you think in terms of energy, you realise the real cost of the task and you can be more intentional about how you prepare and recover from it.

In every interaction you have, you commit yourself to an energetic exchange with another person and you open yourself up to the unknown consequences of those interactions.

If you’re aware of this commitment, you can consider whether you have the energy and capacity for the connection. Sometimes we do. And sometimes, we need to recognise that we may be depleted with little to offer. Knowing your own energetic boundaries and upholding them will serve you well.