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We spend more time at work than we do around friends and family and often, those work environments can be fast-paced and frenetic.  High-pressure work environments, staffing shortages, and endless hours in online meetings can make you feel like you want to give up, go home (or walk out of your home office) and crawl back into bed. Over time, these challenges can begin to wear on your enthusiasm for your career and can leave you feeling burnt out and like quitting is the only way out.  If you want new results, then take new actions.  Doing more of the same gets you, well, more of the same.  And that’s the definition of insanity. Here are five ideas that can quickly shift your energy and increase your resilience at work when you experience overwhelm.

  1. 90-minute sprint / 10-minute break

    Those of us with strong work ethics often try to push through and skip breaks. Our workday consists of non-stop meetings that include a working lunch and sometimes a working dinner.  The problem is the brain begins to lose focus over longer periods and the body begins to feel depleted from lack of movement. Try to adjust your schedule to work in no more than 90-minute sprints followed by 10-minute breaks throughout the day. Doing so helps you maintain focused attention but then gives your mind and body an opportunity to disengage and relax. 10-minutes of relaxation is often enough to inspire in you creative problem solving and intuitive thinking. Your mind and body work best when you take time to frequently rejuvenate and align with your natural rhythms.  Consider implementing this work strategy as a team so you and everyone else feels supported and at their best. It’s a working smarter vs harder strategy to maximum productivity and increase your energy levels. 

  2. Stop, Prioritize, Communicate.

    Are you a pleaser?  Are you working to earn your worth? Are you a super achiever? Bosses love these types of employees because they will work and work and work. Over time though, this super achiever can often get burned out and frankly feel irritated because it seems to them that no one is working as hard or doing as much as they are. This leads to frustration and feelings of defeat. Often the super achievers can feel taken advantage of.  As someone who can handle A LOT, it’s your responsibility to continually rebalance your workload. Stop and think before you automatically say yes to new projects or assignments. Give yourself a day to look at what’s currently on your plate then decide whether you can take on something new. Be realistic rather than hopeful and idealistic.  If your “to do” list is a mile long, categorize the work into big buckets then prioritize what’s in each bucket. Highlight only what needs to be done this week then stay focused on those tasks.  If it seems like everything on your list needs to be done this week, communicate with your manager and ask for help. The goal is to align your priorities with your manager’s expectations.  Agree on what can be put in the “parking lot” and what falls “below the line” for what can be accomplished this week. Be sure to communicate your existing commitments and priorities with your teammates so they also know what to expect.


  3. Get Moving!

    Dr. James Levine, a professor of medicine at the Mayo Clinic, coined the phrase “Sitting is the new smoking”. Moving your body before work impacts your energy throughout the day.  Movement tells your body it is time to wake up and get moving, sending signals to your biological system that it is time to get productive!  Incorporating a morning exercise routine can lead to increased energy that lasts throughout the day.  Don’t let your excuses be the reason why not. Instead ask yourself, what is possible given my morning routine? A short walk with the dog, a 15- minute stretching session on the family room rug, or a 30-minute at home workout all qualify as energy boosters and activities that support a healthy mind.


  4. Activate your life force.

    Wait! Is this something woo-woo, you ask? Absolutely, not! Your life force is simply your breath and it has the power to calm you, ground you, warm you, cool you, or energize you. It’s free and available 24/7.  No purchase required. Maybe that’s the reason we often take our breath for granted. Purposeful breathing is adjusting the pace, rate and depth of your breathing to alter your physiology. It’s the best tool I know to reduce overwhelm and anxiety. A simple exercise in purposeful breathing can help you feel more balanced in your body and provide you with greater energy at work.  Try a simple breathing technique like the   4-7-8 breath taught by Dr. Andrew Weil or try a more advanced technique like ocean breath. These practices are simple enough to do at home or at your desk and will benefit you throughout the day.  As always, if you begin to feel lightheaded when you are practicing purposeful breathing, stop and return to your normal breathing.


  5. Make time for play.

    All work and no play leads to a decrease in energy and a lack of pleasure in the day-to-day.  Lean into the saying, ‘work hard, play hard” by making time for both productive work and energizing play. Happiness is about finding a balance of both. When you have something fun to look forward to, be it a vacation, a special dinner, a card game with friends, or a hike in nature, work becomes less burdensome and you become more interesting. We are all bombarded by the 3 Ds – drama, disasters, and dysfunction. So, seek out opportunities to laugh and be lighthearted.  Don’t be afraid to be silly and child-like. Make a new friend and go do something fun together. Finding time for play will lead to increased energy and motivation.  

A new year often comes with a feeling that we can start fresh and create new habits.  I hope that these ideas help you live and work with intention and find more energy in your day no matter how overwhelming the work environment gets. 

Sara Harvey

Founder & President, innertelligence

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