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Published on March 3, 2021

How To Relax Quickly When You Are Addicted To Work

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How To Relax Quickly When You Are Addicted To Work

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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Last Updated on November 24, 2021

The Ultimate Guide to Prioritizing Your Work And Life

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The Ultimate Guide to Prioritizing Your Work And Life

Do you ever find yourself telling a friend or colleague that you’re “so busy” whenever they ask how you’re doing? Or, that you “have a lot on your plate and hardly have any time for yourself”?

These are common answers to the question: “ how are you doing?”. Perhaps you see it as an easy response that doesn’t need much explanation.  Or, it could be that you’re in disbelief at the end of the week, wondering where all that time went.

The reality is that time is precious and waits for no man. Yet, many of us unconsciously squander time away; but when that realization kicks in, it’s often too late, or you have little time left to spare. And, the end result of what you were going to accomplish either gets short-changed or fails altogether.

Think about the time when you had to be up early for an important meeting at work; yet, the night before you were up late binge-watching a TV series. You ended up waking up late the next morning and had to rush to work, leaving you flustered and not well prepared for the meeting. Did you really have to watch those TV series late into the night? Or could you have used that time for an early rest?

Or, what about that time you had a deadline to meet, and you spent every night that week working late to complete the project. Did you really have to spend every night working late at the office? Or could you have prioritized your time better and gotten the project done during your typical work hours?

I’m sure we’re all guilty of not spending our time wisely at some point in our lives.

But let’s not focus on the time that has already been spent; instead, let’s look at how we can prioritize and leverage the time that we still have!

How to Leverage Your Time

Going back to the age-old battle of Quantity versus Quality, which do you think matters more? What if I told you that you need not worry about how much time you have left–instead, focus on how you’re making use of the time that you do have so that it’s worth many more valuable moments in the future?

That’s right. You can easily multiply or invest in the time that you have now. This way, you’ll reap many more returns in the future, instead of merely spending time at present. And, one simple way of investing in time now–so that it becomes quality time– is to Prioritize.

I’m sure you’ve heard this before. It isn’t new. Yet, how many of us actually intentionally sit down to prioritize daily tasks and responsibilities? Even less likely, how many of us know a method that can help us effortlessly decide what is important enough to take up an hour of time, and what can be skipped?

What Prioritization Means

When you have a lot of tasks that need to be completed every day, it’s important to develop an effective system to stay on top of them. Prioritizing involves knowing what should be completed first based on importance. Knowing the best ways to prioritize can save you a lot of time and energy while working.

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Prioritizing involves organizing your tasks in order of importance to determine what you should work on first. While you may be tempted to make every task an urgent priority, you should exercise caution. When everything is urgent, everything will lose its urgency.

Prioritization is one of the best time management strategies of all time. By using this strategy, you’ll learn how to organize tasks, have extra time to work on bigger tasks and meet your deadlines. Developing your prioritization skills will help you get more done in less time.

Why Is Prioritizing Important?

Prioritizing your workload has lots of benefits. They include:

Productivity and Efficiency

Prioritizing your urgent tasks will improve your efficiency and productivity. It will help you gain clarity on your most important tasks and ensure that you devote enough time and attention to complete them successfully.

This strategy improves your focus while reducing overwhelm and distraction. By prioritizing urgent tasks, you’ll get better results in a short period. You need to know your priorities to boost your productivity, performance, and effectiveness.

Less Anxiety and Stress

One of the biggest advantages of prioritizing an important task is that it relieves stress and anxiety. When you have a lot of items on your to-do list and less time to do all of them, you’ll experience feelings of overwhelm and stress.

Prioritization reduces items on your to-do list and helps you manage your time effectively. By prioritizing important work, you’ll have fewer tasks to work on and more time to complete the work. Failing to prioritize your work will lead to stress since you’ll end up spreading yourself too thin.

More Opportunities

Prioritizing your workload allows you to focus on your most important tasks every day. When you prioritize your work, you’ll make the most out of the opportunities available and achieve important goals.

By failing to prioritize your work, you’ll find yourself spending more time on less important tasks. Having a lot to do will prevent you from making the progress you need in your career. Prioritization will increase your effectiveness and performance at work and have enough time to look for and make the most out of the opportunities available.

Effective Methods to Prioritize Tasks

1. Determine Value in Any Task or Action

Before you can decide on what to prioritize, you need to know just how important that action is.

Value is what you gain from an action that you take. It’s the benefit you’re getting in return for spending your time. Sometimes, the Value is immediate or short term; other times, it‘s only realized in the long term.

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So when you invest in time, you’re actually creating future value for the time you put in now. Usually, the benefits are not immediate and will take time to manifest. But once they are realized, they are enjoyed over a long period of time.

2. Reduce Time Expenditures

Time expenditure,

on the other hand, creates short-term benefits at the cost of your current time. Usually, the benefits are quickly enjoyed but are one-off. So once it’s done, it’s gone.

Whether you’re aware of it or not, your tasks are automatically prioritized by your brain. Some tasks can get you closer to your goals, while others don’t really get you anywhere at all. Outside of work, most people seldom plan out their tasks deliberately, which allows them to be driven automatically.

This is where you end up feeling ‘busy’ all the time because some of the actions that you’re doing don’t necessarily align with what you want in the future. The consequence is that we spend a lot of our precious time on wasteful time expenditures, and far too little on time investments.

This causes a lot of people to be stuck in the same loop, day after day, month after month, year after year.

By simply determining the value of your daily actions or tasks, you’ll already be intentionally prioritizing at a much more efficient rate. This will not only reduce time expenditure but increase time investments that you’ll be able to use in the near future for much more important areas in your life.

Let me paint you a scenario. Say you’re going on a week-long vacation to Australia. It’s your first time traveling to Australia and there are so many activities you want to do, sights you want to see, and restaurants and eateries you’d like to visit.

All this research can get pretty overwhelming and you may not know where to even start! Do I book a hotel first? Or get my flights? But what if I decide on a specific hotel and realize it’s far away from all the major attractions? Should I then look up what attractions I want to visit first? This list can go on!

In order to not get overwhelmed or over-plan your trip itinerary, here’s where Determining the Value of each action or task can help you Prioritize effortlessly.

3. Start with Your Intention

What is the purpose of this vacation? Once you know the purpose of this vacation, you’ll be able to list down a bunch of tasks or actions–such as booking a hotel, booking flights and land transport, booking tickets to certain attractions, making reservations for restaurants, etc.

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Once you’ve compiled your list, the next step is simply to categorize them into 3 criteria:

Must-Haves, Should Haves, and Good to Haves

Must-Haves

Must-haves

are tasks that are absolutely critical to achieving the objective and should take top priority for resources and time.

Should-Haves

The Should haves is important but not critical; leaving them out may lessen the impact of your outcome.

Good to Haves

And, the Good to haves are just optional. Not having them won’t affect the outcome of your goal.

Once you’re able to sort out your list according to these 3 criteria, you’re already one step closer to prioritizing effectively and spending quality time on those Must have tasks. And, this will be a game-changer. You’ll be able to easily communicate what you are spending time on, and you’ll find that you have more time to spare because it’s crystal clear what’s worth skipping out on!

This can be applied to any aspect of your life, whether you’re a full-time working professional, stay-at-home parent, or working parent. If you’ve ever used the expression “I’ve been so busy” when talking to someone, then I’ll recommend you give this a shot.

Make use of this free guide Create More Time Out Of a Busy Schedule to help you prioritize your everyday demands and align them with your life intention. You will be guided to identify your must-haves, should haves, and good to haves with this guidebook. Grab your free guide here.

4. Quantify Your Tasks

Now that you know how to determine the Value of your actions spent, the next step up to effective Prioritizing would be to quantify your tasks so that you can objectively decide which is more important. This is especially useful when you have multiple items within each Must have, Should have, and Good to have criteria.

Quantifying your tasks by assigning a value will allow you to objectively see the importance, making it easy for you to know which task to work on first. This way, you can be assured that the time and effort that you’ve put into is quality.

5. Use a Master List

You cannot prioritize tasks by keeping them in your head. One of the best ways to achieve this goal is by creating a master list. You can use a project management tool or create it in doc for easy access and updates.

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Your master list will help you discover the priorities that align with your big goals. When you start using a master list, you’ll start focusing on completing big, meaningful, and hard tasks.

6. Discover and Differentiate Urgent From Important Tasks Using Eisenhower Matrix

With a master list, you can still get confused when it comes to figuring out what you have to do now or later. Most people use the Pareto Principle to solve this problem. They focus on the twenty percent of the tasks that account for 80 percent of the results.

However, the Pareto Principle relies on experience. A more effective technique is Eisenhower Matrix. Urgent tasks are those that require your immediate attention such as answering emails, texts, and phone calls.

Important tasks are those that affect your long-term values, goals, and mission. By using this method, you have to complete urgent tasks first, figure out how you’ll complete the important ones. You can also delegate important tasks and eliminate those that are neither important nor urgent.

7. Eat Your Frog

After prioritizing your tasks, you need to come up with the best strategy to complete them successfully. Effective task prioritization requires effective strategies. When you start your day by tackling the most important task, you’ll feel energetic and inspired to keep on keeping on. Frogs are tasks that you find challenging. And in most cases, they are usually important.

Prioritization Tools

Thanks to rapid technological advancement, you can organize and prioritize your daily tasks with your smartphone or tablet to get things done in less time and achieve your biggest goals. Some of the best prioritization tools include:

  • Pocket: This is a great productivity app that will improve your focus by allowing you to save interesting videos, articles, and links to use later. You can save your content directly from other apps or your browser.
  • Todoist: Todoist is one of the best task managers that simplifies your tasks and goals by helping you create an actionable list. The app allows you to share and work with others to boost productivity. It’s available on different platforms. Plus, there’s a free and premium package.

Final Thoughts

Time management is only one piece of a bigger puzzle of change that you can go through, to turn your life around and find more fulfillment. Often, when you find yourself going through an obstacle or limitation in life, it’s not just because of one flaw or a one-off decision you made.

It’s often a process and a result of many actions that resulted to where you are now, and so you should go deeper to reflect and see how things can be done differently.

Learn more time management tips:

Featured photo credit: Marten Bjork via unsplash.com

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