If you are like me, taking time off for vacation, especially at the holidays, is stressful. I dread sitting hour after hour with family and friends while there is yet so much to be done. Turning my head off, shutting down work that needs to be done, putting aside things left on the desk, laying aside things in the hopper, or delaying plans that must be completed, is almost painful. And truthfully, it is not just work things, how long can I go without checking my smartphone, iPad, computer, or the at-home project to-do list?
Over the years work has become more and more consuming and many of us suffer from a work-life imbalance. Do you feel lost if you are not being productive? There is this creeping uneasiness that I get when that little voice inside me says, “you shouldn’t be sitting around when you have so much to do.” This is actually a common problem for those of us in the project management profession. Psychologist’s say that for some people this discomfort around relaxing can even morph from boredom, to irritation, to alcohol abuse. (Oh my!) I also read that it isn’t that different than other addictions, like drugs, or gambling. They call it Adrenaline Addiction: being addicted to stress, in this case, work stress.
Here are a few symptoms or signs that you may be obsessed with your work:
–Feelings of guilt when idle
–Obsessed over things that are left undone
–Strong compulsion to always be doing something
–Afraid something will go wrong if you don’t do it personally
I really do want to relax and enjoy my family and friends over the holidays, but now that I am actually facing a few days of downtime how do I turn off my head?
According to Dr. Tom Muha, a psychologist practicing in Annapolis, Maryland, the first step is to decide that you deserve to be happy. Dr. Muha says that “if you really feel that you deserve to have a good life, then decide to make that the main gift you give to you and your family this year.”
The second step is to face the discomfort that plagues you when you’re not being productive. You might have to fool yourself at first, but here are some things that can help:
1. Get some exercise first thing in the morning.
2. Plan your day around pleasurable activities.
3. Engage in conversations chock-full of curiosity.
4. Ask other people what would make their day terrific, and them do whatever you can to help make that happen. (This works really well with kids.)
5. Pay attention to what you’re seeing, smelling, hearing, tasting, and feeling. Be in the moment.
I am going to have to fight my inner curmudgeon and force myself to have a good time over these next few weeks, but who knows, I just might learn to relax after all.
Wishing you the happiest of holiday seasons and a wonderful New Year.
Thanks for reading The Digital Attitude. See you in 2014.
Keep up the good attitude. See you next blog.