As May is Mental Health Awareness Month it’s a good time to reflect on how we’re feeling, what makes us stressed, are we pushing ourselves too far and do we ever actually switch off?
When we launched Another Number it was partly because I had witnessed several colleagues who disliked carrying two phones, or loathed the smartphones purchased by their IT Manager.
The other issue that we wanted to address was that many of my colleagues over the last few years (since I have lived in London in particular), were always working, I mean always; I very rarely switched off too. I used my personal mobile for work as I refused to have two phones. I used to sneak a look at email before going to bed so my brain was busy with work and it took me a long time to sleep, I answered texts to customers at 10pm, or if I didn’t I felt agitated or guilty that I may be letting them down.
The problem is that we have made ourselves too available, we don’t put a value on our time off, we don’t set expectations correctly and we certainly don’t know how to say “NO”. We live in a culture where everything needs to be done now, we constantly seek instant gratification, immediate answers to questions and fast resolution to problems. This leads to stress, unhappiness and burnout.
At an last year held at Here East where we are based, I heard Julia Hobsbawm OBE, author of Fully Connected speak at an event run by the Evening Standard. She challenges us to think about why we don’t address our constant connectivity – “infobesity, network gridlock and email overload” as she calls it, in the same way that we would address problems with diet, lack of sleep, the need for exercise.
Fortunately around a year ago, I recognised my response to the demands of modern life and my behaviour is now very different. Being part of a small business again there are times when I work a little in the evening or at the weekend but that’s because I enjoy it and have made it fit in around other important areas of my life. What is really different though is that when I decide to switch off, I really do, so that I am fully engaged in what I am doing, even if that is simply doing nothing.
If you find it hard to switch off and find yourself a slave to work on your mobile, then you can make small changes to resolve this. You can even use your mobile in a positive way with mindfulness and relaxation apps like HeadSpace, Pacifica and Chillax. If you’re unsure about how mindfulness can help then there is a good guide here at Nestmaven.
With Another Number app we offer a second number for work on your iPhone (Android on the way) so that you can separate your work and personal life. We are also doing our bit to help with switching off by offering a Do No Disturb setting so that when you’re not working and you need time to yourself, you’ll no longer suffer the interruptions I knew so well.
If you’d like to know more take a look here where you can trial the app for free.