People Management

Workplace Wellness: The Importance of Disconnecting

By Véronique Forest December 15 2020

The importance of disconnecting is highlighted by the fact that 57% of Canadians have experienced burnout at some point in their lives.


And the onus isn’t only on employees. Employers too have an important part to play by fostering a healthy work environment where people aren’t overworked, and from which they can disconnect.

If you’re the kind of person who can’t resist booting up their work computer during holidays, vacations or days off, this article is for you.

Disconnect From Work

Good work-life balance should be the universal norm for both employers and employees. We all too often glorify being busy and even overworked. I believe that the credit should go to the people who set boundaries and cultivate balance in their lives.

At the end of your workday, you can turn off notifications on your cellphone, for example. Managers, make it clear to your staff that you absolutely don’t expect them to answer you at a moment’s notice. Better yet, don’t contact them outside of working hours. Why not schedule emails to be sent the following day if you work in the evening, for instance? This lets you work during the hours of your choosing while resting assured your colleagues won’t be notified at the wrong time.

But what about you, dear employee? If you’re a bona fide workaholic, start by setting realistic goals to truly disconnect from work. The best way of doing so is by planning group activities. Find yourself hobbies that will gradually take the place occupied by your overtime. Little by little, you’ll see the benefits on your health.

Set Priorities

There’s a time for everything: work, leisure, friends, family and so on. Beyond setting priorities, you need to give yourself the means to observe them if you really want a better work-life balance.

Hold yourself accountable. Stop saying you don’t have the time; rather, say you didn’t take the time.

Many give the excuse of not having the time to exercise more, but they could simply replace 30 minutes of Netflix with a walk around the block, a few times a week. This would meet their goal. Besides, physical activity reduces stress, and is therefore a good habit to have.

Unwind

Some people define themselves almost exclusively by their work. But no matter how much you love what you do, make sure you have something else in your life. You’ll feel less pressure, since your whole existence won’t be dedicated to your work. Unwind by doing other things: you’ll be more balanced as a person, as well as able to truly disconnect.

While in university, I was a stand-up paddleboard (SUP) and surf instructor for a summer. It was my dream summer job: it allowed me to practice my passion every day and get paid for it. But I quickly saw a decline in my motivation since it was all I was doing. For me, the solution turned out to be diversifying my activities and talking about things other than work at home.

Human beings need to refresh and renew in order to be truly efficient.

Take Some Time Off

To disconnect from work, nothing beats taking time off. Vacations are essential to avoid burning out and to truly let you recuperate. They also make you better at your job. Yes, you read that right: rest stimulates productivity, creativity and imagination.

Stop saying you’ll take time off soon without ever setting a date. Pencil it in today. And to keep you from going back on your word, you can book activities and flights in advance.

A Few Tips to Help You Disconnect

  • Turn off notifications on your cellphone outside of working hours.
  • Clearly define the times when you’re unavailable and won’t answer messages.
  • Make time for things that make you feel good: reading, walking, training, painting, etc.
  • Take time off regularly, at least once a year but ideally more often.
  • Calculate the hours you work weekly, and review them, asking yourself if they’re reasonable.
  • Set priorities (at and outside of work) every week to better organize your time.
  • Restrict how much you talk about work at home and observe those restrictions (unless something noteworthy happened).

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