The climb to success can be a fast-changing, exciting and stress-ridden journey but with the risk of burnout, some entrepreneurs and executives have put “switch off” on their daily to-do lists.
According to corporate psychology firm AccessEAP, 40% of people aged between 16 and 35 list anxiety as their biggest issue while 30% of older age groups feel the same.
AccessEAP CEO and corporate psychology expert Sally Kirkright believes that around-the-clock availability through constant access to mobile devices making it impossible to switch off could be one of the causes.
“Anxiety not only harms our wellbeing, but [it] also sabotages productivity,” says Kirkright.
Sign up for SmartCompany newsletter.
Free to your inbox every weekday
Without taking the time to switch off, Broadband Solutions director Sam Bashiry can often forget how much pressure he is under.
Bashiry, who turned a $1000 second-hand router into an internet service provider that turns over more than $15 million annually, lives in a high-stakes environment.
The rapid growth of his business means he has to quickly respond to increasing responsibility, sales targets, company KPIs and staff.
“With our growth there’s a lot of pressure and stress that comes with [it],” he told SmartCompany.
“You don’t even realise it’s there until you take time to switch off,” he says.
Switch off your phone for at least one hour a day
Bashiry switches off by literally turning off his mobile phone and starting his day with a 5-kilometre walk, which takes him about an hour.
“You get so caught up in everyday work and everything that’s going on and you don’t stop,” he says.
He believes it’s crucial to pause during his rigorous 12 to 14 hour workdays.
“You need to just make the time,” he says.
Bashiry says going offline for an hour to walk by himself helps him find focus, pause and reactivate so he is better placed to get back in the game and drive his business forward.
“It’s actually okay to stop and just take time,” he says.
Call it a night
Being in the events industry means Event Negotiators chief executive Adriana Brusi is always on the go.
“The only thing I can guarantee in event management is something will go wrong,” she told SmartCompany.
So working with stress is not new to her.
“I work well under pressure but the unwinding part in the evening takes me a bit longer,” she says.
However, Brusi has experienced the danger of not slowing down.
Previously working in the music industry, Brusi’s all-day-all-night career came to a sudden stop when she contracted glandular fever.
“When I got to the end I realised I had pushed too far,” she says.
“If you love what you’re doing it’s not work but you can become over-passionate and you can over-commit.”
Now Brusi is very mindful with taking time to switch off and has also picked up the habit of regular gym visits.
“It’s something that doesn’t let me engage in any interaction work-wise,” she says.
She also allocates two hours when she returns home that is dedicated quality time with her family.
Her phone is switched off and they may watch meaningless TV.
With a partner who also runs his own business, the couple commit to a weekly date night to ensure they stay connected with each other as they pursue their own ventures.
“The gym, the TV and my husband are my vises to unwinding,” she says.
Former foreign exchange banker Sarath Weerakoon has spent more than 20 years in highly stressful dealer rooms of international banks where employees often suffer from high blood pressure.
Meditation has been a strong part of Weerakoon’s life in helping him switch off.
“I meditate for stress reduction, clarity of mind, improved functionality through clear thinking and to improve output,” he told SmartCompany.
Practicing meditative breathing techniques or walking by focusing on the heel-to-ball touch of the foot on the ground with each step for 10 minutes, three times a day, are some of the ways Weerakoon meditates.
“By being there in the present moment, I avoid worry, reduce anger and improve relationships” he says.
After practising such techniques for many years, he has come to a realisation the practices help him regain control of his thoughts.
“What’s important is not what you’re thinking, it’s that you are thinking,” he says.