Photo by Jackson Simmer on Unsplash
  1. You don’t have proper de-stress time: “Weekdays are for work”

Many of us put crazy hours into their work. Constantly prioritizing career makes it harder to predict when we finish, so we tend to stop making evening plans. There is just no point when so many of them were cancelled! Yet, this is a vicious circle. You don’t have anything planned – you will continue working. You have no motivation to be productive.

A few hours off with your friends, however, can make you feel happier, less stressed and improve your productivity the next day. It’s worth giving it a go!

  1. Your weekend is a to-do list of everything you couldn’t do on weekdays

You wake up, you clean your flat, you go for groceries, you prepare food, you pay your bills, etc. Yes, you are productive. No, you are not recharged.

Life is not about completing to-do lists. Find time for joyful activities by outsourcing and minimizing the effort on others, e.g. shop groceries online, use cleaning services. You deserve to relax.

  1. Your perfect well-being routine is not that perfect

Are you going to a yoga class because you love it or because everyone does it? Does it feel just like another bullet point in your to-do list? Your free time is scarce, spend it on what you truly love. Personally, I like yoga but I won’t choose it over a good dancing class.

  1. Your me-time is too much focused on instant gratification

Whether you are a yoga or dance lover, often after a hard week there is a high temptation to stay in bed and just binge-watch Netflix shows until Sunday blues hits us. It’s absolutely normal to have lazy weekends, just probably not all of them.

There are four general components that work best when it comes to reducing stress and recharging – good people, nature, sport & hobby. So introduce some of these in your routine, e.g. take some fresh air with your family or ride a bike with your friends.

  1. You are deceived on what truly makes you happy and less stressed

“I’ll be happier when I get richer”, “There can be no success without struggle”, “I’ll sleep when I’m dead”. Are there assumptions in your head you know are not true but you still keep acting as if they were? Write down as many as you can think of – the first step is to identify the enemy.

  1. You care less for yourself than for your work/other people/status/money/etc.

We’ve identified our biases but knowing is not enough. We keep making same mistakes. Prioritizing your well-being is hard as it requires saying ‘No’ to other things, including work. How many times did you choose yourself over others?

This is the most crucial point which is also the hardest to change. You need to rewire your brain to act differently and it won’t happen overnight. Like mastering the piano, you need to practice and with time you will find the balance between your well-being and other “stuff”. It starts with the first “No” to the latter.

  1. Your environment is… challenging

Let’s face it. You have more or less manoeuvre in your life depending on which company you are working at. You can’t expect an investment bank / consulting firm to be as laid back as a slow-growing corporate giant. You can’t expect a toxic environment to suddenly become all rainbows and unicorns, either. So don’t. Be realistic about how challenging your environment is. This will help you assess your prospects objectively and even make a decision to change the environment (read, quit the job) should you feel like you had enough.

  1. You don’t use all environment resources to counter its effects

There are all shades of grey in how people work in the same environment. Even in the most demanding jobs you see people who are quite nonchalant.

Think about resources your environment presents to you. It can be people to whom you may delegate or it can be the values the company translates, even if it’s a mere lip service. Example: if your company value the result over the number of hours invested, what can you do to achieve the most with working the least? Be smart about it – evaluate the terrain and use it to your advantage.

I once had a fascinating dialogue with a junior in my team. I said “Hey, you should send this slide to the design team instead of doing it yourself”. “No, I can do it myself”. “Just because you can doesn’t mean you should”, “But I’ll do it faster than them anyway”, “Yeah, but you could use this time to do something else or just take a break…” Just because your company praises hard work, you shouldn’t always choose the hardest path.

  1. You experience your problems alone / you don’t open up to people

You can do yoga all weekend, but this won’t make actual work less stressful. To make your environment less tense, you can start with being more open with people. This may sound counterintuitive because openness means demonstrating vulnerability. However, instead of suffering in silence, get your worries off your chest and help others do the same. The more open atmosphere you create in the team, the fewer misunderstandings and the more empathy you will see as a result. Be honest with others and leave your bravado for a bar night.

Work can be stressful but don’t let the stress take you hostage. The only person who is responsible for your well-being is YOU. With that being said, this person needs your support, not judgment. There is no one-size-fits-all. Some people just need proper rest, some need to work on resilience and others can benefit from changing the environment. So what do you need?