Why Turning Off is So Important

How many times have you taken a vacation or a day off and have taken a call from work, checked your email or called work to check in? How often, at the end of the work day do you go home, only to check your email or make one more call? It's so hard to turn off from work, even when we're supposed to be away. Someone might need you. Something might break. What happens if I don't answer that call?

When you don't turn off, you're affecting your health, your family time, your relationships and your effectiveness at work. Yes, even though you're working and "showing up", you're not as productive when you don't take the time to refresh. But, let's talk about your health and the impact that overworking has on your health.

When you're under constant stress and you don't take the time to refresh and reset, you have a higher risk of Adrenal Fatigue. When you're under stress, your body produces cortisol. That's the hormone that you need for the fight or flight response. But, if your body is constantly being overtaken by cortisol, your adrenals will give up. They'll waive the white flag and you'll end up causing a lot of health issues.

The following image is from the Institute For Integrative Nutrition (IIN). It shows all the affects of adrenal fatigue on the body. If these symptoms go untreated, and you keep adding in stress, it will be a downward spiral.

In a study by The World Health Organization done in 2016, people working over 55 hours per week are dying at a higher rate of heart attack and stroke. According to the study, "In a first global analysis of the loss of life and health associated with working long hours, WHO and ILO estimate that, in 2016, 398 000 people died from stroke and 347 000 from heart disease as a result of having worked at least 55 hours a week. Between 2000 and 2016, the number of deaths from heart disease due to working long hours increased by 42%, and from stroke by 19%."

This study was done in 2016 and the world of work has changed drastically since then. The boundaries of work life and home life are completely blurred, so it's much easier to work over 55 hours per week. We find ourselves checking email while watching tv or finishing up projects after the kids go to bed. It's much more accessible and sometimes, it's even expected, depending on the organization.

The good news is, that you can reverse it. Taking time off and away will help reset your stress level. Schedule time on your calendar to block off for time for you. This time could be used to exercise, meditate, do yoga or go for a walk. Plan your time off in advance and assign a back up while you're out. If you're in a role that gets a lot of emails, utilize the out of office feature and direct coworkers or customers to your back up. That will put you at ease that nothing is falling apart while you're gone.

If you're a leader, you're setting the example. Even if you talk with your team about taking time off or self care and you're working around the clock, you're setting the expectation that they need to be on all the time. If someone on your team is on vacation, don't call them or email them. Set the expectation within the team that no one is to be bothered while on vacation, that includes you. Lead by example. Take time off and turn off. This will give the rest of the team permission to do the same.

In a recent article by Joe Robinson, he notes the impact of vacation time on productivity. He states, "Humans are simply more productive when rested. Researcher Mark Rosekind of Alertness Solutions found that the respite effect of a vacation can increase performance by 80%. Reaction times of returning vacationers increased 40% in his study." So, it's a win, win. You're healthier and more productive when taking time off. Go ahead and turn off!

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