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Take time to unwind.

Remember those peel away calendars that started each day with a fun fact? It would tell you about that particular day’s kooky holiday, the phase of the moon, maybe give you a lucky number, or a random piece of useless knowledge that actually came in handy breaking the ice around the water cooler? Well, they’re still around! Some of the most popular variations revolve around starting off each day with a motivational quote. Most of us still unknowingly begin our days consuming aspirational content. At least, that’s the supposed intention.

Whether it’s tweets, Facebook memes, or Instagram hashtags about Monday motivation, our feeds are always awash with troves of “inspirational” images constantly urging us to “grind,” “hustle,” and cheering us on via a proxy of stock images to continue striving for that fabled life of bliss captured in the photo.

While hard work and determination are certainly admirable traits and key to enjoying professional success, the reality is this may be promoting unhealthy work ethics that lead to an inevitable burnout. Peeling back the layers of this unintentional phenomena, Dr. Jeanne Hoffman, a psychologist in the Department of Rehabilitation Medicine at the University of Washington, notes that “People who work all the time actually end up being less productive and sick more often because of the constant work,” adding that “Especially during COVID-19, a lot of people feel like they need to be on all the time, but it’s important to take a break.”

The results are in and the consensus from mental health professionals is that “hustle culture” promotes unrealistic and unsustainable habits that over time, actually makes us more inefficient! Take the images of these memes at face value and don’t just visualize yourself on a scenic trail somewhere, use that same inspiration and initiative to book a weekend trip to relax and unwind! Get away from the grind guilt free and make the most of your well-deserved time out of the office.

Whatever awaits come Monday morning will probably benefit from you having the chance to recharge your batteries. Don’t let an unfinished workload weigh down your upcoming weekend. Instead, welcome the opportunity to press pause on your impasse and return to this obstacle with a rejuvenated mind and a fresh perspective. Once you’ve adopted that mindset, go ahead and schedule your out-of-town email to post automatically so that once you’re clocked out, you don’t have to mentally clock back in to tie up any loose ends.

Most of all, just like getting into the headspace of anticipating your leave, you should begin mentally preparing yourself to be able to relax once you've stepped out of the office. If possible, stay off of your phone or computer entirely! Be completely present in the moment and savor your time away. Purposely try to slow down and just be okay with doing nothing! After all, you’re not just doing nothing, you’re celebrating all of the hard work you have already accomplished, just like all of those smiling people in the inspirational photographs!

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