It’s Friday afternoon and you’ve had a really busy week. But, the sun is shining and it’s nearly the weekend. Perfect time, then, to take some action. Here are five things you can do right now to start the next working week with a spring in your step and forget about the stresses of the week just gone.
1. Schedule outdoors time
Put an appointment in your calendar now. Block out an hour one day next week and commit to going for a walk in your lunch break. Bring a sandwich to eat at your desk and make use of the full hour outside. Have a look at Google Maps to see if you can find an interesting route from the office – somewhere you’ve not been before – away from the usual lunchtime hoards. Parks, rivers and canals are all great candidates. If not, try to discover a new part of the city – take a road you’ve not been down before to see where it spits you out. It’s all about having an adventure and making sure your day isn’t solely about work.
2. Learn to breathe
Who’d have thought something as simple as taking a few deep breaths could be so effective? We all have those moments when everything comes at you all at once: horrible e-mail has just landed; phone is ringing; colleague has just asked you to take more work on. We press on, without realising the damage it’s doing to our mental health.
When that feeling of panic strikes, you need to take action. So, here’s the secret – close your eyes and take some long, deep breaths. Really focus on your breathing. If any anxious thoughts creep in, just observe them as clouds drifting across the sky and away into the distance. Two minutes is all it takes and that short pause can be enough to put things in perspective.
3. Make a list
Before you go home for the evening, make a list of everything you’ve got to do. Then, go back through your list and highlight those items which are urgent and whether it’s a quick job or a longer job, then rearrange your list in order of how you are going to tackle it.
I tend to go for the urgent and quick tasks on the list first. You’ll probably find work falling into that category isn’t as much as you think and addressing those items as soon as you are at your desk can score you some points and ease the pressure, freeing you up to focus on the more urgent things which aren’t getting a look in.
Lists are a superb way of creating some head space and allow you to switch off in your free time, leaving any work issues where they belong – on your desk.
4. Do something with your weekend
It’s tempting when you are stressed at work to do nothing with your time off. Work becomes all consuming so you spend the weekend dreading the arrival of Monday morning. Most of us only get two days a week to ourselves so you need to make the most of them. Don’t use all of Saturday morning up deciding where you are going to go – it’ll be too late and you’ll convince yourself it’s easier to stay at home.
It doesn’t need to be too adventurous, nor should it cost the earth (the best things in life are free). A drive to the coast, a local wood, a stately home with a coffee shop. Whatever it is, decide now then all you have to do is go. It might take a bit of effort but getting out the door is the hardest part and the rewards are worth it. Besides, it’ll give you a more interesting story for the inevitable ‘how was your weekend’ chat at the coffee machine on Monday morning (which you’ll be able to linger at given you organised your to-do list on Friday).
5. Enrol on a course
Doing something completely different is sometimes just what you need to break that cycle of stress and worry. Even if it’s just giving you another focus for a while, you’ll get much needed breathing space to throw yourself into something other than what’s on your desk.
Don’t fancy taking up something new? There are plenty of options for refining something you already do. Perhaps you love walking but your navigation skills are a little rusty, or you feel you should brush up on your knowledge of first aid. Maybe you are a keen cyclist who’d like to know a bit more about bike maintenance. The choices are endless and you’ll get to meet a whole load of new people who are interested in the same things as you (and won’t talk about work).
Whether it’s in the evening, at the weekend or one lunchtime, having that time to look forward to can do wonders for your state of mind and expose work for what it really is – just a job.