Have you ever experienced one long week at work extending into an absolutely draining month? You are trying your best to relax in the evenings, but nothing seems to be working. Somehow, you still feel fatigued and stressed. With work not slowing down and the summer months ahead already seemingly packed with plans, you can’t stop thinking about how many cups of coffee you’ll need to make it through! To help you prepare (and work more sustainably), we’re sharing five personal restoration techniques to help increase energy and reduce stress.
Understanding Personal Restoration
Personal restoration is a relatively straightforward concept.
Personal restoration, or recovery, involves using techniques to restore your mind and body to prestressor levels after being exposed to workplace stressors.
Recovery is how you increase your personal resources that support your performance at work. For example, energy, motivation, emotional or soft skills, and mental well-being. Unfortunately, these resources can be tricky to refill because they are needed to work efficiently or effectively but are also directly impacted by stressful experiences we have at work. So, it’s quite a tricky cycle.
Acting on the concept by using just that simple definition can be overwhelming. Where would you even start? Understanding the different recovery categories, however, might help you know what techniques will work best for you and your unique idea of work-nonwork balance.
Categories of Recovery
There are four common categories or types of recovery – psychological detachment, relaxation, mastery, and control.
- Psychological detachment – Psychological detachment is the ability to “switch off” work-related thoughts or stressors. The key to detachment is building boundaries and firmly separating your work domain from your life domain.
- Relaxation – The most commonly identified recovery experience. An important reminder, relaxation is a necessity, not a luxury.
- Mastery – Mastery recovery focuses on engaging in activities that support personal growth and learning.
- Control – Control recovery requires allowing yourself to take control of your recovery in two aspects. First is work control which might include enforced work-nonwork boundaries or a flexible schedule. The second aspect of control is leisure control which includes deciding how to spend your time off.
Take a moment to consider which one of these methods you may be unconsciously using. Is there a method you aren’t currently using that sounds more rejuvenating to you? Perhaps some of these techniques for increasing your personal resources will inspire you to try new ways of recovering from workplace stressors.
5 Ways to Recover from Workplace Stressors
The following techniques can help you increase your personal resources including energy, focus, and motivation. By “refueling” those resources you are setting yourself to work more efficiently and more sustainably.
1. Engage in Common Personal Restoration Methods
Recovery and restoration aren’t one-size-fits-all! Perhaps using a mix of two techniques will help you to feel the most balanced. Here are some tactical ways to try each recovery method.
The key to psychological detachment is building boundaries and firmly separating your work domain from your life domain. We shared more specific ways to set those boundaries in this work-nonwork balance blog.
Most people connect the idea of relaxation with recovery. If you want to relax, you should consider making it a routine. For example, every day take 30 minutes after work to do an activity that relaxes you. Some of you might be thinking, “well, I’m already doing that but I still don’t feel relaxed or refreshed.” Many people don’t realize the activities they choose to do during downtime aren’t actually relaxing to them. For instance, for some people running two miles while listening to their favorite podcast is relaxing and for others, it’s a chore. Or, some people find scrolling through TikTok for an hour on the couch relaxing. Others may find that more stress-inducing.
We encourage you to try a few different activities and reflect on what actually makes you feel good and what is adding more stress to your life.
Perhaps what energizes or inspires you is expanding your knowledge and pursuing personal development. Think about hobbies or passions that you are interested in but never started. Try taking some time each day to learn more about them. For example, if you’re interested in learning more about dancing, take a few minutes each day to learn a new step or move.
2. Take a Microbreak
There are a few different types of microbreaks but all can help increase energy throughout the day.
- Relaxation Microbreak – stretching, taking a walk, gazing out a window, taking a quick power nap
- Nutrition Microbreak – drinking tea or coffee, eating a healthy snack
- Social Microbreak – Chatting with friends or coworkers, checking social media
- Cognitive microbreak – surfing the web, reading a non-work-related book
These small breaks, one to five minutes, are an excellent example of tiny but mighty! We encourage you to take at least one every hour. Or, if you’re taking shorter ones (say 30-60 seconds) every 20 minutes.
3. Find the Purpose of Work
The thought of finding your meaning and purpose can seem really intimidating! While it also doesn’t sound like much of an energizer, having meaning and purpose in your work life can drastically impact energy levels. When you have a purpose, you tend to be more engaged, focused, and in general, less stressed. Dig deep and uncover what makes you do what you do.
What about your work fills you with meaning and purpose?
Whenever you feel de-energized from work, think back to this moment of reflection. Remembering the meaning and purpose behind our actions will help lead to positive outcomes like energy.
4. Appreciate Nature
Did you know that exposure to nature increases focus, improves mental fatigue, and decreases stress? By taking a step outside and being immersed in nature, your mind may experience clarity. Your body may also appreciate the endorphin release. Our team utilizes this Attention Restoration Theory (ART) by taking quarterly team hikes! We use this time to bond as coworkers and enjoy a breath of fresh air. If hiking isn’t your thing, simply stepping outside and taking a deep breath can still make all the difference.
5. Decorate Your Space
Did that last technique have you thinking, “that sounds nice but I live on the 8th floor of my building” or “there isn’t that much nature in the city?” Don’t worry, we got you! Decorating your office with a plant or two can elicit a similar response to being physically outside. It is possible to get the same benefits of decreased stress and improved focus. Don’t have a green thumb? Try growing succulents. They’re easy to maintain but still add a pop of color and life to your workspace.
We also recommend making your space aesthetically pleasing to you. Everyone deserves a space full of art or items that can briefly capture your attention and spark joy or satisfaction.
Moving Forward with Personal Restoration
Knowing how to refill your own cup is key to managing and maintaining workplace well-being. Plus, trying these techniques can help you both recover from workplace stressors and learn a lot about yourself! For more tips, best practices, and resources for supporting workplace well-being (for employees and employers alike) subscribe to our blog. You won’t want to miss a single post from our 10-week Workplace Well-being blog series!