It’s January, and the holidays are officially over. For many, the next months will be dedicated to work without the hope of a vacation and may be the hardest part of the year to enjoy. To stay motivated, some may focus on when the next getaway is, but it’s more beneficial to develop a daily habit of renewal.
In the article, “Recovery, Work Engagement, and Proactive Behavior: A New Look at the Interface Between Nonwork and Work,” the study found that if you practice recovery rituals on a daily basis, your work engagement and productivity levels will increase. Therefore to maintain positive motivation both at work and home, we must create a mini vacation on a daily basis. Forming this habit is a simple exercise that requires three easy steps.
Recovery will be different for each person, but the first step is to recognize your current pattern when you leave work. Do you have a coming home ritual that allows you to unplug? Do you mentally leave work, or do you instead stay connected to technology and the stress of your job? Do you exercise or plop on the couch with your dinner and remote in hand? Can you talk to those who matter in your life, or are you distracted and irritable?
After you’ve contemplated what your day looks like now, decide what needs to change. One important step is to “bookend” your day. Some call this the Mr. Rogers method because as we all remember, every time he entered his doorway, he put on his cardigan and slippers. Take this a step further, and instead of putting on your old man apparel, put on tennis shoes and go exercise. Yoga is also a great way to engage in recovery because it melds fitness with centering yourself in the present moment while it purges out your stress through breathing. Think of exercise as a stress filtering tool rather than a chore, and remember that it doesn’t have to be intense, it just has to be consistent.
After you’ve relieved your stress, then you can enjoy those around you who make your life what it is. Whether it’s your spouse, your child, your dog or your journal, truly participate. I often am greeted by daughters inviting me to dance when I enter the house. This ritual releases me from work and allows me to appreciate my family, my home and my life.
Also, eat your evening meal with intention. I know that every night can’t be a gourmet experience, but you can do better than fast food from a chain restaurant or your microwave every night. The experience of cooking is good for community building, health and happiness, and try sitting at the table rather than your couch. Doing so will support communication much more deeply, and connecting to your food will help you eat the proper amount and be satisfied.
Practicing the habit of gratitude will also increase your motivation. This is because being thankful for the bright spots in your day make it worthwhile. If you take time to reflect and appreciate, your gratitude will reframe your mindset into a positive outlook. Also, rather than worrying about work or dreading going in the next day, contemplate what you actually enjoy about your job. Choose something that you’re thankful for and say it audibly. Attitude is by far the most important factor in maintaining happiness.
In short, figure out what habits make you feel mentally at ease and positive. If you get home and do things that make you feel grateful for the life you’re living, you’ll more motivated and energized on a daily basis. These mini vacations are necessary to recharge your perspective and prepare you for work the next day.
So again, recognize your current status, decide what small habits you can change in your day to develop a pattern of recovery, and practice those changes. Doing so will change your mindset and give you a better sense of balance in both work and life.