Back to Work
How a self-reflective practice can set you up for success.In a 2018 study of more than 1,500 workers, almost a quarter of the participants (based in the US) said they felt that the mental health benefits of taking a holiday disappeared as soon as they returned to work, while 40% said the benefits only lasted a few days. The thought of returning to the daily grind after a prolonged break can induce feelings of anxiety as thoughts turn to the email backlog waiting for us on our return and this can mar our last few days of freedom. So, when the sun starts to set on our break and reality starts to bite, how do we prolong that zen-like feeling and make for a smoother transition?
Self-care is Key
Keeping self-care at the forefront of our minds is an important factor for everyday wellbeing and this is especially true when we’re in a state of flux. Eating well, staying hydrated and getting enough good quality sleep are all markers for health so making time to ensure that we are looking after these areas will go a long way to prolonging the benefits of your rest period. But how many of us take the time to consider how we are feeling or what external pressures may be contributing to our overall sense of wellbeing?
The Power of Self Reflection
The art of self-reflection is as old as time and yet in our incredibly fast-paced, modern world, it’s not necessarily easy to practice; unfortunately, most of us don’t take the time to fully get to know ourselves. Some might dismiss the practice as navel-gazing or even self-indulgence, but the truth is, with a deeper knowledge of who we are, comes a deeper sense of purpose and understanding.
Self-reflection is the key to self-awareness and puts us in touch with our thoughts, feelings and subsequent actions. With practice, regularly asking yourself how you feel can lift the barriers that lead to stagnation and ultimately lead to positivity, happiness and growth. Carving some time out each day to consider how we feel can spark our curiosity, motivate us to delve deeper and help us identify hidden factors influencing our mood, productivity and stress levels.
“The unexamined life is not worth living” – Socrates
T-Cup’s newly launched WellCup app encourages this practice by asking nine daily reflective questions prompting you to think about your Health, Happiness and Success to help you gain a deeper understanding of the factors which could be impacting wellbeing. T-Cup’s technology is proven to effectively raise 8/10 people’s conscious awareness and 7/10 people saw a direct increase in motivation as a result of using the app.
Before answering nine reflective questions, WellCup offers the opportunity to take part in a short mindful audio meditation. Being fully present before reflecting will ensure you are in an optimum frame of mind to get the most out of the experience. When we become more self-aware, we become more conscious of our strengths and weaknesses and we are better able to address unhelpful thoughts that may be harmful or self-defeating. Once we gain more insight into our thought patterns, we can steer them toward more constructive behaviours to encourage positive action. Regularly checking in with yourself may also help in recognising the signs of “burnout” that 79% of UK workers have experienced, according to a 2021 survey. Burnout is the term used to describe a state of physical and emotional exhaustion which can occur due to long-term career stress. Common signs include feeling drained, helpless or defeated.
The graph below shows T-Cup community data pulled from last year’s holiday period, August to September and shows stress levels at the lowest with relationship scores at 70%.So, pulling out all the stops and throwing yourself back into work could potentially send your stress levels soaring back up and cancel out the benefits of a well-earned rest. To help make the transition as smooth as possible, we’ve compiled some tips below which may help.
Try to ease yourself in gently if your role allows and ensure you take the time to write a to-do list on the first day to get off to a steady start. You may have to fight the temptation to power through breaks and inhale a lunchtime sandwich at your desk. This is not recommended and it will likely set you up for some bad habits going forward. Start as you mean to go on!
Nourish your body
Ensure you’re choosing healthy options to keep up your energy levels and don’t forget to keep hydrated. After a break, our mealtimes can get out of synch so it’s a good idea to get back into a routine.
Breathe. Take some time during the day to check in with yourself. Perhaps try some calming breathing techniques to improve focus and concentration levels.
Take a moment to reflect on how you were feeling before your holiday and assess whether there are any changes to be made. Were you running on empty? What needs to change to ensure this doesn’t happen again?
If we don’t take time out of our busy lives to self-reflect, we risk making choices based on the needs of others and what we think is expected of us. Checking in with ourselves by incorporating a daily reflective practice into our routine can give us the clarity to understand what we want to change, how we’re going to go about it and how we are going to hold ourselves accountable.