Madissyn Fredericks, Licensed Professional Counselor, Symmetry Counseling

When it comes to a healthy work-life balance, the term “unplug” is one that is often thrown around. Designating some time for yourself to unplug from work is a critical part of psychological self-care yet many find it difficult to fully disconnect. The number one reason for the lack of a break is that people don’t want to fall behind or return to a mess. Whether it is the weekend or a vacation out of the country, they don’t see the harm in keeping up with emails, taking calls, or video-calling into meetings if they feel up to speed. The problem is that when you don’t completely disconnect from work while away, you are still consumed with work and are unable to be fully present in what you are doing in your free time. Neglecting to unplug over time may leave you feeling exhausted, burnt out, and dissatisfied with your job. Below are a few tips that may help you have a healthy break from work and fully unplug when you are out of the office.

Physically Disconnect

While physically unplugging or turning off electronics is extreme, try doing without them for most of your days off. Write an out of the office auto reply, avoid binging Netflix, and engage with people instead of your phone. Screens have become such a huge part of our daily lives that we barely realize how often we use them. Therefore be mindful of how much screen time you are using during your time off and refrain from spending it checking work emails.

Mentally Turn Off

Physically disconnecting is crucial for a healthy work-life balance, but so is mentally unplugging. Thinking about work can be all consuming and lead to sleepless nights, anxiety, depression, change in appetite, and isolation. Therefore, it is important to relax in your down time by turning work off mentally. Try reading a new book, write in your gratitude journal, listen to music, or whatever gets your mind off work. Spending time with yourself doing things that take your mind off work will leave you feeling mentally rejuvenated.

Allow Yourself Time Away

Whether it is a trip to the grocery store, a dinner with friends, or a vacation to the beach, make sure you are getting out of the house and away from technology. Engaging in these kinds of activities make it more difficult to sit on your phone or computer and facilitates social engagement of some kind. Allowing yourself time to do basic necessities or be around others make work feel more distant. Most likely, the world won’t end if you don’t answer that email or work on the project for an extra hour. It is important that you prioritize your time away from work over what may await you when you return.

If you are finding it difficult to prioritize time for yourself to unplug and would like some support, it may be useful to connect with a therapist. Contact Symmetry Counseling at 312-578-9990 to set up an appointment with one of our very skilled therapists today!