Body and Soul: Do you suffer from work hangovers? Here’s what you need to know

Michelle recently featured in this article on the Body and Soul website talking about list-making and how it comes in handy when setting your intentions on what you want to achieve for the day.

They can make you sleep-deprived, anxious and unproductive, just like a real hangover.

You get home from work and log back on to check your emails. You go to bed making a mental list of what you need to achieve the next day and often wake up during the night remembering that one thing you forgot to do or a conversation you didn’t enjoy. When your alarm sounds, you’re groggy, unmotivated and stressed already.

Sound familiar? You’re suffering from a ‘work hangover’ — and it can be almost as debilitating as one that follows 15 margaritas and a round of karaoke.

Here are six signs you could be heading for one — and how you can fix it…

Sign #1: You can’t switch off at home

A common mistake is not creating a clear separation between work and home. This means your brain never stops thinking about the office.

Leadership coach Amanda Blesing says this is easy to remedy. “Peak-performance researcher Adam Fraser talks about creating a third space, so that there’s separation from work and the personal, and I think it’s really valuable,” she says. “I’ve always created that space by exercising — walking home or going to the gym or yoga.”

According to Fraser, the space in question is any moment of transition between a first and second activity. While Blesing’s transition is exercise, your ‘third space’ can be anything that works for you. “It’s about finding the time to do something that’s about you, such as listening to an uplifting podcast, or simply ringing a friend to talk.”

Sign #2: Your mind is always spinning with to-dos

A great tactic before you head home is to make a plan for the next day so you leave the office feeling organised, which makes it easier to switch off.

But that’s easier said than done, right? So how about you prioritise not prioritising? Instead of getting bogged down by the details, write a simple list of what you need to do — limit yourself to five tasks — and then leave it alone.

Blesing says while it’s natural to want to cram in as much as possible, this can be counterproductive as you end up crowding your headspace. By keeping it simple and leaving some room, she explains: “that’s when you think more clearly and may come up with a better idea that saves you the time anyway.”

Sign #3: You never feel good about what you’ve achieved that day

This is when your list-making comes in handy as it sets clear intentions on what you want to achieve each day, says change-leadership and career expert Michelle Gibbings. “It makes it harder to ignore the task than if it’s just floating around in your head,” she explains.

Next, break it down into chunks of time. “It’s best to work in 30- to 60-minute time blocks, with a break when you finish a task. Highly productive people will tell you that they time-box their work day and set aside the morning for highly complex thinking.”

Sign #4: You can’t let go of a disastrous meeting

“If a situation at work went badly, you’ll likely run the scenario in your head again and again,” says Gibbings.

The key to fixing this is reflection. “When you reflect, you think about the situation, focus on uncovering what you’ve learn and identifying what you would do differently next time,” she says. She suggests doing this reflection exercise at the end of the day and writing it down, which will help you get it out of your head and move on.

Sign #5: You get the ‘work dreads’ on Sunday

Blesing says a lot of people fall into the trap of spending their Sundays getting ready for the week ahead and then don’t sleep properly because they’re already thinking about work.

“My biggest recommendation is to give yourself something meaningful to do on a Sunday — such as connecting with friends or family — otherwise you’re simply starting work early,” she explains.

Sign #6: You can’t seem to let go of old pressures

This is the biggest work hangover of them all — you’ve left your job, but you’re not quite ready to move on to your next role. “You’ve got a hangover of old issues, old guilt and old criticisms,” explains Blesing. Her advice? “Do something proactive like a personal-developmental course. Do something that’s focused on you, understanding yourself better and moving you forwards.”

4 ways to sleep better tonight

A good night’s rest is key to fighting a work hangover. These science-backed hacks will have you drifting off in no time

1. Sniff some lavender oil

Numerous studies have found that lavender not only eases anxiety, it can also improve sleep quality. One study also found mixing it with basil, juniper and sweet marjoram oils helps decrease sleep disturbances and ups your overall wellness. So power up an essential-oil diffuser an hour before bed or add a few drops to your pillowcase

2. Try ASMR

Ever heard of the autonomous sensory meridian response? ASMR refers to the tingling sensation that occurs when people hear certain sounds or watch videos that relax them. Listening to an ASMR audio recording before bed could make it easier for you to fall asleep. Try it for yourself on Spotify (ASMR Sleep Sounds) or listen to the Sleep and Relax ASMR podcast.

3. Get a move on

According to scientists from the John Hopkins Center for Sleep, just 30 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise (that’s running, cycling or playing sports like tennis) each day can increase your amount of deep sleep — the sleep stage in which your brain and body rejuvenate — and may be able to lower rates of insomnia, too.

4. Bring the outside in

Fuel your houseplant addiction and enjoy a better snooze by adding some greenery to your bedroom. A study by NASA has found that plants such as peace lilies, mother-in-law’s tongue and aloe vera can improve sleep quality by emitting oxygen at night, removing harmful pollutants from the air and decreasing stress.