Do you feel tired after a long day at work? Not just tired, but exhausted, where all you want to do is unwind? Today, we talk about what causes you to feel this way and share a couple of tips on how to unwind effectively.
Need for Recovery
The ‘Need for Recovery’ is defined as the desire to take a break, unwind, and recuperate after work. It’s the feeling you get when you need to ‘recharge your batteries’ or want to just be left alone for a bit at the end of the day. I think we’ve all been there before. After a long day, I just want to lay on the couch and binge watch mindless TV. It can be hard to do anything productive when you feel a strong need for recovery. Simple tasks like making dinner can be challenging.
While we all know this feeling and understand that it is caused by stress, there’s a lot of research that can help us understand it more deeply. What makes this need to unwind stronger? What happens if we don’t meet this need?
Job demands contribute to your need for recovery. They are stressful work situations that include things like working on a short deadline and having to work long hours. Stressors would be considered job demands. We spent some time defining stressors in the workplace in a previous post so check that out if you want more detail!
Research shows that having more job demands leads to a higher need for recovery. Importantly, the more energy you use at work and the amount of work you complete both have a strong impact on this need. In other words, if what you are doing is challenging or takes a lot of effort, you will feel that exhaustion and need for a break more quickly. Also, if you have too much work to do, you will feel a serious need to unwind.
It may seem like removing those stressful job demands isn’t realistic. However, I would argue that’s not the case. If you have too much work on your plate, speak up! Your manager may not know and can help you. If you manage a team, feel free to delegate! Maybe there’s something you are doing that someone else can help with. Is there a task that someone on your team can learn from? Someone might want that experience. So, ask around and see if there’s potential to remove some of your workload!
What about those tasks that take a lot of effort? Think about ways to make those tasks easier. Is there a tool or some training you can take to help you become more efficient with those tasks? Can you choose when to complete them? Maybe you can tackle those tasks right before a much easier task.
I encourage you to think about what job demands are contributing to you feeling like you need to unwind. Think about whether you can change any of these demands and don’t be shy about talking to your manager to help you manage them more effectively.
Job Control refers to whether or not you can choose when to take a break, what tasks to work on, and how to approach your work. Someone who has a lot of job control is able to switch to easier tasks or take a short break when they are feeling drained. If you have little control over what your day looks like, your need for recovery increases.
Unfortunately, changing the amount of control you have on the job is challenging. That lack of control can also reduce your chance of improving your job demands too. So what can you do? Take the time to unwind. Sounds obvious, but it is crucial for those of you that can’t change your work day to help you balance your demands. Make sure you disconnect completely and take your time off seriously. You will need it. Otherwise, you set yourself up for long-term fatigue.
There are so many different things you have to take care of outside of work. We have to clean the house, grocery shop, cook, take care of children and pets, do laundry, pay bills, and the list goes on. These household activities add to the demands that increase your need for recovery. You can’t unwind while doing these types of tasks. You are still putting in effort to accomplish what you need to accomplish.
On the other hand, leisure activities require little effort, such as watching TV, or provide you with some sort of positive experience, such as spending time with friends or taking that yoga class you love. These types of activities actually reduce your need for recovery. In other words, these activities help you unwind and make you feel less drained.
Some research does suggest that household activities aren’t all bad but I would recommend you try to minimize these types of activities on days where you are experiencing a strong need to unwind. If you can put it off, wait until you feel more rested. It’s better to refresh right away than to set yourself up for long-term problems.
In terms of leisure activities, some research shows that taking a more active break is more helpful in reducing your need for recovery. Going to dinner with friends or squeezing in that workout helps people feel refreshed. It is sometimes easier to just relax at home but make sure you are checking in with how you feel. If you aren’t feeling recharged after, consider doing a different, more active activity that you enjoy.
Unwinding and Well-Being
Being able to unwind after work reduces your need for recovery. Sounds obvious, right? But it’s important to know that feeling the need to recover results in lower well-being. Once you are able to unwind, your need for recovery decreases and your well-being improves. It’s also important to think of long-term impact. If you ignore your need for recovery, you can create long-term health issues, constant fatigue, and reduced overall well-being.
Any time you feel the need to recharge or unwind because of a hard day at work, take the time to address that need. It’ll make you happier, healthier, and more productive at work!
Hopefully this has given you some insight into that tired feeling and will motivate you to take care of yourself! Comment below with your thoughts. Have you experienced this need for recovery? Have you ever ignored it? What happened? What do you do to unwind?