I met a friend for a drink the other night. She was late and clearly frazzled from a long, hard day. She works part time, but to ensure her 5pm sharp departure doesn’t create problems she starts work at 6.30am. So effectively she works four eleven hour days and then does even more on her supposed day off. That’s over 45 hours a week for a part time role.
The conclusion we drew was that the 9 to 5 working day is really a myth, an old-fashioned phrase from a bygone era.
The working day is getting longer. We are asked to do more. Do it faster. With less. Oh, and did I mention we’re also expected to stay connected 24/7.
Yet is this sustainable? Can we really work at such intensity and pace all of the time? When do we switch off? What is the effect when we don’t switch of? Or worse, what happens when we can’t switch off?
My friend confided that she can’t sleep. She also observed that as a senior manager in a large business, she’d never before had so many team members come to her frazzled, upset or on the verge or tears. Her senior colleagues are observing the same increase in stress and tension levels in their own teams.
At it’s extreme, corporate burn out can lead to physical tension, insomnia, anxiety and depression. I know. It happened to me after several years of sustained travel and long hours at an illustrious consulting firm.
And this is why people are increasingly turning to the practice of yoga, mindfulness, and meditation. In a world more connected and switched on than ever before, we are ever more in need of tools to counteract the detrimental effects of running too hard and fast on our uber urban treadmill.
Just a few minutes using a simple deep breathing technique can calm the mind and help us to re-focus. Some basic postures sitting in a chair can help us to re-boot and re-energise. A short meditation has the power to create clarity and much needed internal space. Five or ten minutes of easy practice before bed can help induce sleep.
The practice doesn’t have to be long or complicated. It doesn’t have to be done on a mat or in a yoga studio. The tools of yoga can be harnessed by anyone, anywhere. More than ever there is a need to tap into the power of these practices. They can help us cut through the noise and create the space to focus on what really matters, and let go of what doesn’t, so we can more effectively navigate the mad mad world of work.
Take 5 slow deep breaths somewhere in your day today.