How to switch off from work

Many people have problems with their work-life balance, and those working in education are particularly susceptible to struggling to switch off from work in their own time due to the high-pressured, ‘always on’ environment. Many SBLs find it impossible to fight the urge to check in with work even in the late hours of the night. With this in mind EdExec caught up with Richard Holmes, director of wellbeing at Westfield Health, for his top tips on how to switch off
In the face of increasing challenges from budget cuts, to rising pupil numbers, it’s more important than ever that school business leaders and management are getting the proper headspace needed to ensure they are working to the best of their ability when at work.
In order to do this they need strategies to help them leave work at work. Richard has the following advice for SBLs struggling to leave work at work:

  1. Be conscious of how you spend your free time. The education sector is constantly on the news agenda and it can be easy to be consumed by media and work-related conversations in the time when you are supposed to be relaxing. Make sure to incorporate periods where you are participating in hobbies and spending time with friends and family in order to fully remove yourself from the work headspace.
  2. Avoid ‘checking in’. Turn off your mobile and resist checking your emails or, if you must, put aside ten minutes (be strict!) at the beginning or the end of the day. Being connected all the time will lead to stress and adrenaline and prevent you from unwinding.
  3. Create a routine and stick to it. Working long hours, combined with term-time working, can make this difficult, but setting aside time each day for activities like exercise, healthy eating, relaxation and sleep will mean you’re more likely to do it. It also ensures you’re setting aside set periods of the day when you won’t be preoccupied with work.
  4. It’s ok to say no. Just because someone asks you to take on an extra task or responsibility doesn’t mean you have to. Respectfully saying, ‘No’ is ok, especially if you already have a heavy workload. Saying ‘Yes’ to everything is a slippery slope to more unhappiness.
  5. Don’t bring work home. For closure, visualise yourself stopping work and leaving, and don’t take your laptop home with you. To help with this, take five minutes at the end of the day to write a list of tasks you need to work on tomorrow to ensure you’re not worrying about the next day before it’s even begun.

These small steps can make a big difference and Richard strongly advises SBLs to adopt as many of these as possible. “By implementing these tactics you’ll notice a real difference in your ability to de-stress, relax and, most importantly, enjoy a better work life balance.”
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