Ever heard of the term ‘focus time?’ Microsoft defines it as “uninterrupted stretches of time in your day to get your most important work done.” In other words, it’s giving a task your undivided attention for a set length.
However, using the focus time method doesn’t have to just apply to work. You can implement setting aside time to give yourself a break for the sake of your mental health. In today’s corporate society, this is an often-overlooked aspect of life. However, your mental health should be one of your top priorities.
It’s easy to get stressed or overwhelmed with everything you have to do, whether it’s for work, school, or just life. This can be especially true if you have lots of deadlines coming up. It’s important that, in the middle of all this, you give yourself some mental space. Here are five reasons why you should use focus time to your advantage.
1. To Give Your Brain a Rest
Without having periods of rest, it’s nearly impossible to function. Think about it — there’s a reason everyone needs to sleep at night. Just like your body needs physical rest, your mind also needs mental rest.
Set aside some time throughout the workday when you can shut off your brain temporarily. To remind yourself to do this, try scheduling it in your calendar. One way to do this is by utilizing a type of Pomodoro style of work and rest. The Pomodoro method involves a five-minute break for every 25 minutes of work. However, you can use the same basic technique for different periods of time.
So what should you do during these breaks? Meditation is a great way to utilize a resting period, as it improves your focus and helps lessen stress. Another idea would be to practice deep breaths or recite words of affirmation. And drink water! So many people forget to hydrate throughout the day.
Taking these moments to relax for a bit will help prevent you from feeling exhausted at the end of the day. Your job shouldn’t leave you always feeling drained. Regularly being tired, overwhelmed, and/or stressed can take its toll on your mental health.
2. To Avoid Burnout
It’s true there might be busy times in your life that are unavoidable, but it shouldn’t be that way constantly. Feeling overworked can be a serious issue if left unchecked. You can start to feel anxious, depressed, or experience a lack of motivation to work. In today’s terms, this is what’s called burnout.
If you’ve been feeling more stressed lately, overwhelmed, or dread going to work, you might be experiencing burnout. It can happen to anyone, no matter what your line of work is. This is another situation when focusing on your mental health can help.
Having time to rest and recharge can allow you to take a step back and survey how you’re really feeling. You can ask yourself, do I actually dislike my job, or am I overwhelmed? There’s a big difference between the two, but sometimes it can be hard to separate your feelings. If you’re stressed about work, you will likely associate negative connotations with it.
Setting boundaries for yourself can be the first step to protecting your mental health. These can be simple, like ensuring you get off work on time. Working overtime just for the sake of finishing a project might seem like a good idea at the moment. However, unless the deadline is the end of the day, keep your working hours consistent. If your hours are nine to five, for example, respect those boundaries and log off at five o’clock.
After work, set aside some time to unwind. Eat a tasty snack, watch an episode of your favorite show, and write in your journal. Whatever helps you de-stress and relax at the end of the day, do it! Having a moment to decompress will help you feel so much better in the long run.
3. To Increase Productivity
Have you ever tried to cram for a test the night before? If so, you’ll know that it doesn’t work out very well. You can feel overwhelmed by all the material, you’ll probably stay up too late, and your work might not be the best. Even if you do get a good grade, you’ll more than likely feel exhausted afterward.
This is the effect that being regularly overworked can have on you. You’re not likely to create your best content because your head is abuzz. Your level of productivity will decline because it’s harder to focus when you’re stressed. And to make matters worse, you’ll be battling a lack of motivation on top of everything.
By setting aside time for yourself, you can essentially recharge your batteries. With a refreshed mind, you can focus on your work better. That means you’re more likely to be productive and efficient.
Giving yourself adequate space to decompress, therefore, improves your ability to be productive. If you’re having trouble staying on task or getting through your usual workload, consider taking breaks. Your mind will feel sharper, and you’ll have a moment to calm down and remind yourself you’re doing your best.
4. To Give Your Eyes a Break
Looking at a screen or reading for long periods of time can give you serious eye strain. Even with glasses or blue-light blockers, your eyes can still get overworked. This can lead to eye- or headaches, which are painful and can negatively impact your mood.
It’s no secret that when you don’t feel well, you’re not as productive. If you’re battling a headache at work, you’ll naturally get less done by the end of the day. This is, of course, no fault of your own. However, taking breaks to prevent eye strain can help with this.
Try setting aside some time every hour or so to turn away from your screen. Blink a few times to clear your eyes, then close them for a minute. Additionally, looking at something far away can help ease the strain caused by staring at an object up close, like a screen. It’s kind of like eye yoga.
Giving your eyes time to ‘destress’ will overall assist with frequent headaches. Keeping them glued to a screen all day will only continue a pattern of migraines. So give your peepers a break, too.
5. To Remind Yourself that Life Exists Outside of Work
Depending on your job, it can be hard to establish that work/life balance everyone talks about. When you feel weighed down by assignments and deadlines, it might feel like there’s no time for balance. However, this is another reason to prioritize your mental health — because your life is about more than your job.
Being dedicated to your line of work is a good character trait. But that doesn’t mean you need to become a slave to your career. This kind of attitude is unhealthy, especially for your sanity. Repeated late nights and long hours will wear you down.
Without having a special time to unwind and relax, you’ll start to feel the effects of being overworked. You deserve better than that, so give yourself room to be a human and experience life. And with established boundaries between home and work, you’ll provide your mind space to thrive.
Reclaim Your Life
Overall, not allowing yourself time to get away from stress will keep you feeling anchored down. Break free of the chains by prioritizing your mental health. Focus on yourself by creating moments of downtime, and you’ll start to feel the positive effects.
Featured Image Credit: Photo by Mauricio Mascaro; Pexels; Thank you!