A Guide to Winding Down for the Busy Workaholic

In The Work-Work Balance: 70 Hours in 7 DaysI talked about my hectic schedule. And if I’m really being honest, there are weeks when I hit 90 hours. This might surprise you, but those weeks come around more often than you might think, for a business owner.

The problem lies in the fact that I love what I do. Who thought that would be a problem, right? But sometimes it is. When your hobbies coincide with your work life, it’s difficult to reach over, hit the off switch, and just relax.

So after multiple warnings from my Dad, and way too many complaints from friends, I finally decided to try this whole relax thing. Here’s how I’ve been winding down during and after my 70 to 90 hour weeks, and how you can, too.

Planning

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Needless to say, with a schedule like mine, even date night gets pencilled into my planner. If it’s not pencilled in, it might not happen. I also do this to ensure I’m never overbooked, and so I can spread out activities for work and play. This, in turn, helps me lower my hours.

Do I ever have time for impromptu romantic trips out of town, or the occasional coffee meetup in Midtown? Of course! But more often than not, if I get asked on the day, the answer is no. Even outside of work, I’m never short of plans and offers to go out, but always short on time.

Reading

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When I first started my weekend job, I spent my lunchtime working. I typically don’t do client work on the weekends, but there’s plenty of back-end work to do for Alexis Chateau PR.

Recently, however, I’ve been spending my lunch time reading. Thanks to this, I’ve made good progress with George R. R. Martin’s A Feast for Crows, while also working my way through one PR textbook each month.

Reading fiction improves my creativity, while reading non-fiction makes me a smarter panda today than I was yesterday. That’s a win-win on both sides.

Video Games

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During the week, when I work from the home office, I spend my lunch break playing video games. Most times my game of choice is The Sims 4, but I also play Unravel. The games transport me to a fantasy world for the moment. I certainly can’t stay there, but it’s nice to visit.

If you know you’re likely to get carried away with playing video games, then set an alarm. Try to set realistic times. If you know you can’t play for less than an hour, don’t play it when you only have time for a half an hour break, and don’t set an alarm for 45 minutes.

Once you get used to ignoring the alarm, it no longer works. If you’ve ever hit the snooze button so often you start sleeping through the alarm, then you know what I mean.

Pets

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As many of you know, when I work from home, I have my Goodwill Ambassador, Shadow the PR Cat, by my side. But along with being our very own PR kitty, he’s also my full-time pet.

I don’t have many stressful days, but when I do, he’s right there to make it all right again. It’s hard to stay mad at the world, when there’s goodness looking you in the face, begging for an ear-scratch and a tummy rub.

According to a Huffington Post article, there are plenty of ways our pets help to keep us sane. They reduce stress when we pet them, cure loneliness, provide a great distraction, and make us smile every day.

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Since late 2016, my new gym partners have been my parents; and on occasion, Johnson Sainvil, my Senior Business Consultant. We’ve even invited our Atlanta-based clients to tag along. We have memberships at the same gym, so it makes perfect sense.

Exercise might not seem like a great way to wind down, but try it before you knock it. There are plenty of ways to get exercise outside of a gym, if that’s your complaint. Go for a walk, take a ride on your bike, go hiking and bring your camera, or try rock climbing. The meditation aspect of yoga is also a great way to clear your mind and regain control.

Exercise has a cure for everything, and the endorphins (feel good hormones) we get from exercising are pretty damn helpful too!

Going Out

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Even before my crazy work shift, I was always picky about where I went, why, and with whom. It’s unlikely that anyone can get me to leave my house to “hang out”; or that anyone will ever get an invitation to come by my place just for that.

To me, that’s a waste of time. If there isn’t a specific reason for us to hang out, I’ll spend the entire time thinking of all the things I could be doing instead. For better or worse, that’s how I’m programmed. But for some people, that’s another great way to relax. To each their own.

In any case, it’s important to get out of the house for more than work, errands and grocery runs. When I do, it’s to go hiking, take a road-trip,  suck at rock climbing, and of course, date night.

Alone Time

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Despite my love for travel, and my usual sociable nature, there is no company I prefer more than my own. After working 40 hours with people in person, and then another 30 – 50 with people online, I tend to spend a lot of my free time unwinding by myself.

For a while, I tried to do this by staying home. But that never works out. If I’m home alone, I’ll inevitably start working. That’s the downside of a home office.

So these days, I’ve gone back to the old habit I had in Jamaica. Back home, there was many a-time, when I went snorkeling, headed to the gym, went for a run, went to see a movie, or had dinner – all by myself.

A lot of people asked me how I did that. Did I not feel weird sitting alone at a restaurant? That’s confusing to me. I can’t imagine why being alone would make anyone feel that way. I always tell them:

If you can’t spend time alone with you, why should anyone else?

When you’re a workaholic like me, saying no to work can send you into a wild panic: thinking of emails you should be reading, business calls you should be making, and deadlines fast approaching. However, no matter how much you love what you do, it will eat away at your sanity if you don’t take breaks.

How do you unwind after a crazy work-week? Do you try any of the same methods I do? Or is there something that works even better? Share your wisdom in the comments!

62 Comments Add yours

  1. This is a great post 😀

    1. Thanks Violet!

      1. You’re welcome 🙂

  2. I love this! I have to completely disconnect from my work – set times when things are done and I don’t even THINK about it outside of those.

    1. I’m working on that! Haha. I think I managed to do that today when I went hiking.

  3. Shandean™ says:

    This is kind of freaky. I’m going to start believing you are a fly on the wall in.my house if you’re not careful, lol. Just last evening at minutes to 8pm I made a comment and my husband’s response was that it was a.holiday, so… My head literally snapped up, asking ‘Holiday? What holiday? When is the holiday?”. I was truly confused and he looked at me like I was daft. Turns out, I just jumped in front of the computer anf kept at it all day. Only pausing to cook. Since my hubby worked a night shift and came home in the am, I had no reason to ask why he hadn’t gone to work. So I completely missed that Ash Wednesday was going on. That’s never happened to me before. I definitely need this advice going forward, lest Easter passes me by too, haha. Awesome insight as usual!

    1. Maybe I am a fly on your wall. Jamaican obeah strong innuh, even from farrin. 😂😂 Haha. I’m kidding. Not spying, and I leave the withcraft to the Moreaus. We are just in sync. 😇

      It got so bad for me that my dad and Johnson started threatening me to take time off. So today I went hiking and took some great pictures and had a nice time relaxing and enjoying the quiet time. Next time I want to bring Shadow. I’ll be posting about the trip for the next one.

      Take time to relax. Don’t become like me! 😅

      1. Shandean™ says:

        😂 Will definitely pay more attention to that.

  4. sparkledawn says:

    Loved your post, our working lives have changed so much and everything seems to overlap. My de-stress switch off pursuit is singing and music. Whether it is a touch of Swedish House Mafia and I dance like a crazy thing around the room or a touch of Country where I can get lost in the latest heartbreak/new love/songs of home or even some Mozart which completely relaxes me – music is the key for me.

    Last year I started running for the first time ever via couch to 5k podcast. I had a love/hate relationship with running but I felt great, toned up and stress busted – worth a try. If I can run, anyone can 😀

    1. I was just thinking to myself a few hours ago that I need to start running again. I stopped when it got cold. I hate the cold.

      Kudos to you for getting to use music as an escape. Unfortunately I will play music and sing at the top of my lungs… All while doing work. 😂 I work best with music. As a matter of fact, Paramore is playing at the moment. Not sure if you know them.

      I’ll get back on my 5k game. Promise!

      1. sparkledawn says:

        What a great way to work, surrounded by music. I love singing, I’m hoping in the Summer to start recording an EP. More about that another time. I’ll check out Paramore.

        I know just what you mean about the cold. I actually surprised everyone including myself when I started Couch to 5k in the Winter time, on a windy frosty day. I even ran in the rain last Summer and it felt so good!!! Spring is on the way lovely, perhaps we can both start back on our running soon. Have a fabulous day 😀

      2. Yes, I enjoy working while music is playing. And congrats on the upcoming EP! That’s amazing. What genre do you sing in?

        I’m not their biggest fan to be honest. I play music on shuffle. If you want to check bands I would actually recommend try RED and Chevelle. 🙂 those are my two fave bands of all time.

        And yes, I plan to try running this week or next. Perseverance!

      3. sparkledawn says:

        I’ll definitely check out your music suggestions. Love music, it just suits all moods and feelings, there is always some song or some piece that just feels right. I mostly sing Country and Irish but I’ve recently dabbled into some 60’s music and a touch of Rock too!! Even getting to a recording studio will be a dream come true for me!!

        Happy running!!

      4. Thank you. Those are all rock bands I suggested. I never did get into country try music, but one of my clients worked with a few country musicians. They’re based out of Tennessee. We handle their social media.

        May all your wishes come true! Let us know if we can help make it happen. 😊

  5. angela1313 says:

    Synchronicity! My call with my personal coach last night was all on this very topic. It’s nice to know I’m not the only one in this boat.

    1. Angela, you’re definitely not alone! We definitely need to get better at slowing down – and fast! 😅😂

  6. Elizabeth says:

    I am now retired, but when everything was crazy, there was nothing like a “drama” tv show once a week to relax me. It varied over the years, but I usually had a favorite, the last one “Greys Anatomy.”

    1. That’s my mom’s favorite show! Haha. I much prefer swords and unkempt sweaty men or Victorian era stuff, so you will find me watching Game of Thrones and Penny Dreadful. 😂 I really haven’t watched anything in a while though. I’m really bad with TV.

      1. Elizabeth says:

        My grandson fights with swords with my husband ( homemade wooden ones!) which probably exposes me to my quota of unkempt sweaty males.😜

      2. Hahahahahahahaha. That sounds like the life! Don’t you just love your husband when he’s done? 😅😂

  7. I’m not a workaholic… Well, not exactly. But these are still valid tips that might be able to relax at night and go to sleep (which is something I struggle with)

    1. I definitely have sleep problems. That’s probably why I work so much. When I hit the sheets I’m out cold. Reading before bed definitely helps me sleep better. So does some raw garlic, as it lowers my blood pressure.

  8. That’s a very motivational post and I love some alone time! In fact, I can’t wait to have some alone time soon!! 🙂

    1. Thank you! I had my alone time on the hiking trail today. I feel so refreshed! I’ll share the trip with you guys for the next post.

      What do you have planned for your solo time?

      1. Nice, you must feel great now! Well, At the moment I stuck with my son who is nearly 1, I need to try and get him a bit more independent first! 😉 I am now joining a gym where they have a crèche, so somebody can look after him while I workout. That will be my alone time I guess! 🙂

      2. The gym is a great place to get some alone time. I used to go by myself all the time. I loved it. And it sets a good example for him as well. 🙂

  9. Kotrish W. says:

    Working nonstop sometimes seem irrevocable. Recently, I’ve taken pride in being able to destress and even desiring to do it alone. Until a few months ago, I couldn’t understand how exercising (doing more work) was an enjoyable method to destress. I’ve always recognized its benefits, but did not appreciate the work it required! Now, I anticipate the weekly group workouts and personal training sessions. I feel so relieved after a good cardio & weight training workout.

    I also enjoy listening to music, reading, and traveling; however, traveling can be exhausting so a good nap is always rejuvenating.

    1. That’s great! Exercise is one of my favorite ways to de-stress. It has so many long-term benefits that help with long-term stressful situations. Hard to feel bad when you look great and feel healthy! Keep it up! 😊

  10. Sure can relate to what you are saying. Its hard sometimes when we get going to slow down but it is soooooo important.

    1. It is, but work is so hard to resist sometimes. What do you guys do when you’re not traveling?

      1. We agree. We have started defining what is “work”. We are busy constantly doing things we enjoy including travel, personally interacting with people including strangers, friends, family, reading, watching old movies, deveoloping videos, taking photographs, writing, and basically writing the next chapter of our lives. So, is this work? Some would define it as such. We define it as doing things we enjoy. I guess we could sit back and watch re-runs of leave it to beaver, lol. It sounds Alexis that we are alike, doing things we enjoy.

      2. I’ve had to do that as well: draw the line for what is work and what is not. Like any time spent on social media is now work for me, and any time spent blogging.

        I’ve even wondered if taking care of my cat counts as work, since he’s our Goodwill Ambassador. Should I clock in while I clean his litter box?? 😂😂

      3. LOL. If you add that to your list that suggest we would have to include this for Emma too. So lets not make that a job even thought they do their job, lol.

      4. Haha. Does Emma work for you too?

      5. She sure does. She is constantly rounding us up and when we are at the computers to long she’ll bring her Frisbee and poke us in the leg with it. It is like she is saying “hey you two, time for a break”. And of course she has us trained well because up we get to take her out to play, lol

      6. Oh, Emma is your dog! I think all pets train us as well as we train them.

      7. So trueeeeeee.

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