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Published on March 3, 2021

How To Relax Quickly When You Are Addicted To Work

How To Relax Quickly When You Are Addicted To Work
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You’ve finally reached the end of your workday—a day that started with you skimming hours from sleep to get a jump-start on your to-do list. It continued with you eating lunch at your desk to avoid losing momentum, ignoring calls from family and friends to fend off feelings of guilt about not working, and adding new projects to your plate after finishing up others. You’ve managed to reject anything that resembles a break so you can stay firmly focused on your work performance and success. Now, you’re exhausted. And, let’s be honest: you’re also addicted to working.

There’s some part of you that knows this and understands the urgency with which you need to conjure personal courage to confront the unhealthy, underlying causes of your obsessive work style. But, for now, the only mental energy you can muster is the bit that’s required to figure out how to relax quickly so you can do it all over again tomorrow.

Here are 5 temporary solutions to try out to ease the tension of mental exhaustion from being addicted to work until you’re ready to put in the courageous effort to change your approach to work.

1. Take a Walk Around the Block

Once you close your computer and step away from your desk, kick on your walking shoes and head outside. Walking has long been identified as a way to relax the mind and the body. In fact, research has shown that a brisk walk can relieve stress and tension similar to how aspirin relieves a headache.[1]

The reason for this has to do with how this low-impact exercise triggers the release of endorphins or brain chemicals that stimulate relaxation.[2] If your work addiction has left you with limited time, you’re in luck. A walk as short as 10 minutes can provide the stress-relieving benefits you need to reset your mind.

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If work has depleted you’re energy to the point where a vigorous walk seems like more trouble than it’s worth, you can try a slower-paced walking meditation to help you unwind. Mindful walking is practiced within many forms of Buddhism and focuses on walking with reverence. This means that each step is taken with intentional breathing, whole-body awareness, and deep gratitude. Mindful walking is meant to bring your body and mind together peacefully and can help you relax in as little as 10 minutes.

If you’d rather unwind with a little less movement, give a weighted blanket a try.

2. Crawl Up Under a Weighted Blanket

For many people, taking a nap is an ideal antidote for restoring the body and brain after many hours of work. If you are addicted to work, however, you may not be able to easily disconnect from unfinished projects and allow yourself to drift off to sleep.

A weighted blanket may be able to help. This type of blanket ranges from 5 to 30 pounds and is designed to help you feel snug and secure like a comforting hug. In theory, the blanket provides “pressure therapy,” which helps to settle your nervous system and lower your heart rate when you are stressed.[3] Pressure therapy can increase the amount of serotonin and oxytocin released in the brain, which can lead to a sense of calm.

Some experts recommend staying under a weighted blanket for 20-30 minutes. However, the duration is up to you depending upon how much comfort and relaxation you feel. Once you’ve snuggled underneath a weighted blanket, you may find your way to sleep in no time.

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However, if a weighted blanket alone doesn’t seem to be doing the trick to help you relax quickly, you may want to add music to the mix.

3. Turn on Otis Redding

Music is often a go-to resource to stimulate good vibes. If you’re addicted to work and looking for a way to release the built-up tension generated from your intense focus on productivity, power up your favorite music streaming service and turn on some soothing sounds. Research shows that “music around 60 beats per minute can cause your brain to synchronize with the beat” and create alpha brainwaves.[4] These are the helpful brainwaves that appear when you are relaxed.

You might be wondering what type of music comes in at 60 beats per minute. Think Otis Redding. Spotify features a playlist called “60 bpm” that includes several of Redding’s songs like “My Girl” and “These Arms of Mine.” If you’re not a fan of old-school jams, you’ll find other artists and songs on the list as well. You can also do your own research to create a custom playlist that’s immediately ready when you need it the most.

When choosing relaxing music to listen to, keep in mind that you don’t want to simply turn to a tune because science says so. Listening to music that doesn’t appeal to you might have the opposite calming effect that you’re going for.

4. Say Cheese

Smiling is easy, quick, and loaded with relaxation benefits. All it takes is getting past the awkwardness of sitting down or walking around with a grin on your face for no reason other than to unwind. Research shows that an act as simple as smiling can be effective in reducing the intensity of the body’s stress response and lowering heart rate levels after stressful activities.[5] And all of this can happen regardless of whether you actually feel happy.

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When you smile, your brain releases dopamine and endorphins, which are chemical messengers that help to lighten your mood. This makes smiling a sneaky—yet effective—way to trick your brain into helping you feel good.

As a bonus, research shows that smiling can help you look more attractive. In a study conducted at the University of Aberdeen, Scotland, participants found men and women who made eye contact and smiled to be more good-looking than those who did not.[6]

If you really want to take your relaxation up a notch, try smiling while lying on the floor.

5. Lie on the Floor

If being addicted to work has left you in a severe state of exhaustion that the only thing you can think to do is lay flat on the floor, you’re closer to relaxation than you may realize. The Alexander Technique, named after a Shakespearean actor, offers up a specific way to lie on the floor so that you release tension in your muscles.[7]

The technique, also known as Constructive Rest, involves turning on your back with your knees bent and feet on the floor. In addition to helping you relax, the specific position supports spinal alignment.[8] Be sure not to get too cozy, though. Lying on the floor for an extended period of time could lead to soreness and stiffness. You only need to hold the Alexander Technique for a few minutes to feel a sense of ease, and practicing each day can lead to longer-lasting results.

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The Bottom Line

Being addicted to work can bring on an unbearable amount of tension and unease that leaves you with an urgent desire to find relief. But until you can conjure the courage to transform your approach to work and success, that relief is destined to be temporary. There are several methods, backed by science, that can help bring about a brief sense of relaxation.

Walking has been proven to release neurochemicals that are responsible for easing stress. Positioning yourself under a weighted blanket has been thought to provide pressure therapy, which helps settles your nervous system.

On top of that, listening to music at a specific rhythm can cause your brain to create alpha waves—the waves that are generated when you are relaxed. You may also try lying on the floor. The right horizontal position can help you release the built-up tension that comes from working overtime. The simplest and quickest way, though, for those addicted to work to bring about a sense of calmness is by cracking a smile. Smiling has been shown to reduce the body’s stress response.

Now, if you’re an overachiever in figuring out how to relax, just a much as you are an overachiever at working, consider walking around the block, returning home, turning on smooth sounds, lying on the floor with a weighted pull on top of you, closing your eyes, and smiling concurrently.

More Tips on Leading a Balanced Life

Featured photo credit: XPS via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Anxiety & Depression Association of America: Exercise for Stress and Anxiety
[2] Prevention: How To Walk To Relieve Your Stress
[3] Harvard Health Publishing: Anxiety and stress weighing heavily at night? A new blanket might help
[4] University of Nevada, Reno: Releasing stress through the power of music
[5] Association for Psychological Science: Grin and Bear It! Smiling Facilitates Stress Recovery
[6] Psychology Today: There’s Magic in Your Smile
[7] Harvard Health Publishing: The Alexander Technique can help you (literally) unwind
[8] BodyIntelligence: Stress Reliever: The Alexander Technique Practice of Lying Down

More by this author

Candace Doby

Speaker, author and coach helping young leaders build courage in themselves.

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Published on June 11, 2021

What Is Well-being: A Guide On How To Measure And Improve It

What Is Well-being: A Guide On How To Measure And Improve It
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Well-being is a term often utilized in psychology literature to describe healthy individuals. It is often associated with contentment, happiness, or fulfillment. However, there is debate about what well-being really is and even how to spell it.[1] With so much confusion around the definition, individuals are often left to wonder what well-being is and how to achieve it.

This article will unlock the answers to three questions:

  • What is well-being?
  • How is it measured?
  • How is it improved?

What Is Well-Being?

Well-being includes a combination of feeling states and lifestyle factors. Feeling states associated with it may include happiness and contentment. Lifestyle factors may include feelings of fulfillment, achieving one’s potential, having some control in life, and engaging in meaningful relationships. Well-being is also associated with positive mental health.[2] In simpler terms, It is a construct used to describe many facets of life including psychological, physical, and social health. Synonyms for it include happiness, health, positive feelings, welfare, and wellness.[3]

It may also be defined as a state of balance or homeostasis. This balance is achieved by having enough resources to cope with life’s challenges.[4] Both challenges and resources may be prevalent in three areas: physical, psychological, and social.

When there is an abundance of challenges and inadequate resources, well-being is lost. However, humans are designed to work towards achieving a state of balance. Well-being is linked to interpersonal, professional, and personal success. It often results in greater productivity at work, increased learning and creativity, prosocial behavior, and fulfilling relationships.[5]

Why is well-being difficult to define? Likely because it encompasses a variety of life experiences and feeling states that may vary among individuals. To help individuals assess themselves, several measures have been created.

How Is Well-Being Measured?

Researchers need to agree on a standardized definition of well-being to accurately measure it. An adequate measure must therefore encompass every facet of well-being, including as a feeling state as well as a lifestyle. In other words, an effective measurement takes both life satisfaction and functioning into account.

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Well-being can be broken down further into two categories: objective and subjective.

Objective Well-Being

Objective well-being looks at standards of living. This is useful for research looking at cultures, countries, or groups of people. It includes measuring education, income, safety, and life expectancy.[6]

The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, the United National Development Programme, and the Italian Statistics Bureau have identified six areas for study related to objective well-being:

  1. Health
  2. Job opportunities
  3. Socioeconomic development
  4. Politics
  5. Safety
  6. Environment

Subjective Well-Being

Subjective well-being includes an emotional and mental assessment of an individual’s life. Two prominent subjective measures are life satisfaction and happiness. Measuring subjective well-being is useful for predicting mental health patterns.[7] It is determined intrinsically by the individual. Regardless of how their life might be perceived by others on the outside, this measures how individuals feel on the inside.

Subjective well-being can be broken down further into two categories: hedonic and contentment. The hedonic component relates to feelings, emotions, and moods. The contentment component relates to thoughts and whether an individual feels their life has been fulfilling. Individuals often measure their thoughts and life fulfillment against social and cultural backgrounds.

In other words, it is important to consider the context in which an individual lives. Individuals may perceive their lives differently based on social and cultural expectations. Furthermore, individuals cannot be measured without taking their environment into consideration.

In 2013, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development determined subjective well-being to be an important factor in assessing well-being. Because it is perceived by the individual, it is often assessed by self-report measures. In other words, individuals rate their own level of well-being through psychological tests.[8]

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There are five areas associated with subjective well-being:

  1. Genetic factors
  2. Basic and psychological needs
  3. Social environment
  4. Economics and income
  5. Political environment

How to Improve Well-Being

There are many ways that individuals can improve their sense of well-being. It is a complex construct with a variety of factors at play. Therefore, there is no one, perfect solution for it. Instead, the goal should be to engage in a holistic approach the incorporates a variety of factors.

The following methods are not comprehensive. What works well for one individual may not be the right approach for others. Instead, these approaches should be considered suggestions for improving well-being.

Individuals looking for a truly comprehensive assessment of well-being should consider scheduling an appointment with a psychologist, therapist, or medical doctor. These individuals may also provide resources, prescribe medication, or share tips for making lifestyle changes to assist in overall improvement.

1. Spend Time in Nature

There is evidence to support the claim that interactions with nature increase well-being. This includes an increase in positive emotions, happiness, and subjective well-being. Time spent in nature is also linked with an increased sense of meaning and purpose in life as well as the ability to manage challenges in life.[9]

One study found that spending at least 120 minutes in nature each week was associated with greater health. In the study, it did not matter if that time was spent all at once or stretched out over the course of a week. Peak gains in well-being occurred between 200 and 300 minutes of nature time, weekly.[10]

2. Practice Gratitude

Individuals who experience gratitude as a trait experience increased well-being. Trait gratitude refers to the willingness to see the unearned value in one’s experience. State gratitude is a feeling that occurs after individuals experience an act of kindness and, therefore, feel motivated to reciprocate.

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One study assessed state gratitude, during Covid-19 in China. Individuals were instructed to journal while practicing gratitude for 14-days, which included a one-month follow-up. The study found that gratitude practiced in a natural setting during times of increased stress and anxiety resulted in increased positive feelings and increased life satisfaction. However, increased life satisfaction was not sustained after one month.[11]

As a result of the aforementioned study, there is evidence to support a daily practice of journaling and gratitude for increased well-being. Individuals should practice both trait and state gratitude, whenever possible. Over time, these practices will become a habit and lead to lasting improvement.

3. Develop Increased Awareness

Increased awareness is associated with improvements in positive subjective experience, increased self-regulation and goal-directed behavior, and successful interactions with others.

Increased awareness can be attained through meta-awareness. Meta-awareness is the ability to consciously notice an emotion, thought, or sensory experience. It is a skill that can be taught. Mindfulness-based meditation and psychotherapy are two ways in which meta-awareness is learned. Kindness and compassion meditations are both linked with improved well-being. Both Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) may help increase awareness.[12]

4. Achieve Work-Life Balance

An individual’s workplace has the potential to either help or harm them. Workplace factors that negatively impact well-being include:

  • Work-related pressure or demands
  • Lack of autonomy or flexibility
  • Poor coworker and supervisor relationships
  • Shift work
  • Longer workday length

Employers can directly improve their workers’ well-being by providing paid leave, opportunities for salary growth, support for individuals with disabilities or those returning after injury, and access to health care. Improvements in the work environment and job structure may also be helpful.[13]

Worker well-being is beneficial both for workers and their employers. It is associated with improvements in:

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  • Performance at work
  • Coping with stress and self-regulation
  • Satisfying relationships, prosocial communication, and cooperation
  • Immune system functioning
  • And physical and psychological health

Workplace well-being is also associated with a decrease in burnout, stress, and sleep-related issues.[14]

5. Seek Out Positive Relationships

Individuals with caring and positive connections often rank higher in well-being. On the flip side, poor social relationships can be more damaging than excessive drinking and smoking. Positive social relationships also help to protect against mental disorders, such as depression and anxiety.

Prosocial behaviors are important for forming social connections that lead to increased well-being. Appreciation and gratitude are both pro-social traits. For example, focusing on the positive qualities and actions of others. Empathy for others also contributes to higher levels of well-being. Lastly, generosity is also a strong predictor of life satisfaction.[15]

6. Stay Hopeful

Hope is a concept often related to spiritual and religious traditions. However, it entered the world of psychology around the 20th century. It is now an important construct in positive psychology. Hope can be defined broadly as the belief that things can get better, and that goals are achievable.

Hope is associated with an increase in:

  • Emotional adjustment
  • Positive feelings
  • Life satisfaction and quality of life
  • Social support
  • A sense of purpose

Takeaways

Well-being is a construct that is hard to define, yet widely cited in psychological literature. It is linked with feelings of happiness and contentment. It might also be described as a sense of purpose or satisfaction with life.

To accurately measure it, there needs to be an agreed-upon definition. In general, it has been separated into objective and subjective categories. Objective well-being considers social and cultural constructs. Subjective well-being refers to the individual’s felt sense and internal assessment of their own.

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There are several things that individuals can do to improve their well-being. However, no one thing will improve everything. Rather, this requires a holistic practice of mental and physical health. Nevertheless, individuals who spend time in nature, develop positive connections, practice gratitude, stay hopeful, and develop awareness have a greater chance of experiencing better well-being.

More Tips For Your Well-Being

Featured photo credit: Mor Shani via unsplash.com

Reference

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