by Diana McLaren
Joining a coworking space can bring you many great connections, resources and tools for your business. But what can coworking do for you as a person?
The biggest benefit has to do with handling stress. Thanks to the ever-increasing encroachment of technology (we’re looking at you, “smart” phone), we are now stalked by our work. In the entrepreneurial world, overworking and burnout are not just accepted but also expected. Working long hours, allowing your phone to buzz 24/7 as emails come in, cutting back on your personal life and once-favorite activities are all considered signs of an individual so passionate that they are going to succeed. But appearances can be deceiving.
In small doses stress can be helpful, but constant long-term stress is dangerous. It can lead to fatigue, headaches, high blood pressure and even digestion issues, which in turn can lead a burnout so complete that it requires months to recover. Stress destroys our immunity, makes us overly emotional, interrupts our decision-making abilities and can create anxiety and other serious mental health problems. Even when mildly feeling the effects of stress, we are not at our best. Do these conditions sound all right for someone who’s trying to build a company?
Luckily the conditions found in coworking spaces can help balance out stress. Here are some ways your coworking space and its resources can be utilized to lower your stress and help you thrive.
1. Activities such as yoga, meditation and exercise clubs exist in many coworking spaces. Sure, you can do these things on your own, but making it a routine with others helps ensure you’ll actually do it. Take breaks with others throughout the workday to help focus the mind and decrease anxiety.
2. Take a nap. A lot of coworking spaces have nap rooms, hammocks and quiet zones. If you feel fatigued, take a quick nap, just 20 minutes or less, and recharge. It beats struggling through work and getting nothing done. Some people find even their peak productivity just after waking from a nap. [Editor’s note: In the course of editing this article, this advice was heeded and a nap was taken.]
3. Choose effective work hours. The problem of being able to work 24/7 includes its own solution. Keep track of when you are most effective and try to schedule those to be your working hours. If you can find your optimal time, you might even be able to reduce the amount of time you spend working.
4. Switch off a little bit by blocking the flow of updates to your smart phone outside of your chosen working hours. These updates can distract you from your relaxation and down time.
5. Remember you don’t have to meet in the meeting rooms. Use the hour-long discussion you need to have as a chance to take a walk together or play some ping pong. Remaining physically active throughout the day will help blood flow and keep your mind clear.
6. Skip the seat and desk. Experiment a bit with a hammock, a beanbag, a standing desk, etc. If you’re about to change tasks, change spaces while you’re at it. It helps break up the day.
7. Have a workday buddy. Taking regular breaks is great but sometimes we get too focused and forget to step away. Find a buddy that will remind you to come and grab a cup of tea.
8. Talk about it. Stress often comes from dealing with the unknown, so if you’re facing a task that has you unsure, talk to your neighbors and see if there’s someone in the space who can help you.
9. Give yourself permission to stop. Sometimes the hardest part is telling yourself it is okay to take breaks and take care of yourself. If you’re having this problem, let people know and ask them to remind you.
10. Indulge in your new community. Whether stopping for a chat while you make some tea or going out for lunch as a group, the small social break will allow your mind to rest and comfortably recharge.
While it may not be as cozy as staying home and working with your cat, your coworking space can help you keep your work/life balance in order – and even help you toward fulfilling your goals and dreams –especially if you make it a point to use it that way.