Have you ever dreamed of working? From an overcrowded inbox or a presentation they’ve been swiping across the screen for several days? When work is really demanding, it is often impossible to really shut down anymore, even during supposed rest periods. Even in your sleep, work haunts you sometimes. In the long run, this is quite stressful and unhealthy. But there are ways out of the loop.
This is often easier said than done. When you start worrying about jobs, they often grow on their own. Then you should consciously take a step back to assess the situation realistically, advises Utz Niklas Walter, head of the Institute for Occupational Health Advisory (IFBG).
To do this, you can use a method called “decatastrophization”: you classify the things that concern you on a scale of one to ten. There is one small problem – for example, the washing machine was not turned on. And ten is the worst problem like death in the family.
“At first it feels like a late train is like an eight. But if you classify the whole thing realistically and consider that there will be another train in an hour, for example, it could be three, ”explains Walter. “This technique helps many people think faster.”
Another tip for staying calm sounds too simple: breathe. “You can apply the one-to-one breathing technique,” advises Walter, and explains: “For example, you breathe in through your nose for three seconds and breathe out through your mouth for the same number of seconds.” With practice, this will help control your mood.
draw the boundaries
To keep worries from getting out of hand, it’s important to set boundaries. Mentally, but also spatially and temporally, as Utz Niklas Walter from IFBG advises. She recommends a meditation chair technique: For this, you are looking for a place in your apartment that you only go to meditate. “This technology should help you stop thinking about things everywhere and all the time, but only in a certain place and time.”
As you think, you can take notes and then stay on the chair. Walter emphasizes: Thinking about the brooding chair should solve as many problems as possible, not worry. This technique takes practice. Walter recommends training for about four weeks before assessing whether the method is right for you.
Another possibility is the so-called countdown method: you give yourself a limited time, around five minutes, to consciously consider what is bothering you at the moment. Then the meditation was over.
It is important that the situation is clear so that you do not have to think about your work all the time. For example, by setting fixed working hours for yourself. “It doesn’t have to be between 8:00 am and 4:00 pm,” emphasizes Walter. “But the time window should suit you, your own biorhythm and of course the employer’s requirements, and then be respected.”
During the lunch break and after work, Walter advises you to switch your mobile phone to flight mode. “Even private messages can lead to overload.”
keep in touch
Career coach Ute Bölke advises that anyone who notices that they are stuck in a constant stress and worry loop should not deal with it alone. “It’s best to talk to your friends, colleagues and even your boss about it.” She also recommends that you avoid contact with people who demean you as much as possible – or make up for it as much as possible with beneficial contacts.
Walter also says: “Not everyone will be successful alone.” Sometimes you need the support of friends or a partner, provided they agree to it. Occasionally, professional help may also be needed.
Shutting down doesn’t just mean lying on the couch as still as possible and getting sprinkled. “You should consciously plan small events with others where you are deliberately not talking about work,” advises Walter.
He also advises on offline hobbies: “puzzle, handicraft, knitting, origami – be creative”. Coach Bölke also feels that it is important to distract sports and exercise from walking to yoga: “There are thousands of possibilities.”
Rituals can also help you shut down. These can be very simple things, explains Bölke. “You can make a habit of always opening the window during breaks: fresh air for body and mind.” It is equally important to leave the desk tidy after finishing work.
Take notes so you don’t have everything in your head. According to Bölke, a to-do list that you write down before leaving work for the next day can help you worry less about these things. It may also be helpful to listen to yourself and write down your worries.
The next step is to reprogram bad thoughts like “I can’t do this.” This means that each time that thought arises, you think, for example, “step by step” instead. For example, you can complete a task that you are sure to do the next day. Then the list gets shorter and shorter – and the worry less and less.