RGG Law on Making the Most of Downtime
People take time off work for a variety of reasons, and, more often than not, they enjoy the break. However, if you are forced to take a hiatus from your career because of a disability or illness, the time spare time you have can quickly become more of a burden than a blessing. Not only that, but extended periods of downtime without productivity can sometimes lead to issues outside the initial disability such as depression, only compounding things further. RGG Law has a few pieces of advice for keeping busy when you are facing a longer break from your working life.
Enjoy the Initial Downtime
Although it sounds counterintuitive, it is important to actually use some of the time you have to relax and, depending on your condition, recuperate. You have likely been told to take the time off, and there is a reason. Spend some time doing nothing, just enjoying the peace and learning to take things slow. Embracing this part of your leave from the outside is more likely to help you begin to get active again later, since most of us get bored or not doing very much after a while. The lack of pressure, both of the workplace and the idea of recovery, will be a big help. Depending on your condition, illness, or disability, it may even help to take your mind off your symptoms.
Set Specific Tasks
Once you have spent some time just appreciating having the time off, you should start putting yourself to work. At the outset, the RGG Law team feels it is important here to firmly remind you to take things slowly. If you have been put on leave due to a serious illness or a disability, the last thing you should do is over-do. Make sure that you make work for yourself that is within reason – physical or mental tasks that you are up to, and that do not push you too much.
With that said, it can be important for both physical and mental illnesses to challenge yourself in small increments. Seeing gradual improvements in what you are able to accomplish makes a big difference in how you feel. Whether these are basic household tasks, taking time to garden outside, sort through possessions, clothes or other household items that you have accumulated to declutter. Just make sure that, whatever you are doing, to make sure it is within your current abilities, and to check in with friends, family and any medical professionals you may be under the care of.
Discover a New Hobby
If you find you have done everything you can around the house and still have a long time left until you can return to work, or are indefinitely unable to, it may be time to find a new hobby. If you have always been creatively-minded, now is the time to exercise that creativity with the spare time you have.
Creative endeavors such as painting, writing, stitching, or anything that involves making something that is expressive and requires focus have long been held up as major boosters of mood and confidence. This is especially important if you are on long-term disability, as it can help immensely to stop you finding yourself in a slump. If you are out of work due to mental health issues, creative exercises are an effective form of self-help that can improve the results of professional therapy or medication.
Even if you do not consider yourself a burgeoning Picasso or Steven King, picking up any hobby – whether it is brand new to you or an old passion that was sidelined for your career – can be just as rewarding as more typically creative hobbies. Gardening, Yoga, DIY, or intently reading fiction or nonfiction are all ideal as long as they are within the current limits of your abilities. Remember, as with setting yourself tasks, avoid pushing yourself and making your situation worse.
Plan Your Schedule
The RGG Law team knows that one of the biggest, yet underappreciated advantages of working life is that it provides a structure and routine that helps many of us feel at ease. Taking long-term leave, whatever the reason, can very easily disrupt that routine. Unstructured, unfocused and unproductive free time can have a surprisingly negative effect on many people. Not only does it disrupt things like your sleep schedule, resulting in over-or-under sleeping, but it can lead to depression and difficulty focusing.
If you are facing a lengthy time away from work, RGG Law recommends that you schedule your days. Whether you are doing household tasks or indulging in hobbies and interests, doing them by a timetable is good way to structure your day. Even people with creative careers such as artists or writers will structure their day much like an office job, as it improves their ability to focus and prevents them from distraction. For those with mental health or neurological issues, this is also an effective method of avoiding dwelling on negative thoughts or feelings. Even if your daily schedule remains vague and flexible, just a semblance of structure will help.
A major risk in being off work for a long period of time is a lack of contact with others. Work often offers an easy way of socializing day-to-day, and having that taken away by disability or illness can lead to feelings of isolation. The RGG Law strongly advises that you stay in touch with friends and family, especially if you live alone. If you do find yourself discovering a hobby, consider looking into whether that are any local interest groups that share it and attending when you are able. This not only helps you feel less alone but can help you form lasting relationships with new friends.
RGG Law and Long Term Disability
If you are facing a long-term disability, or are seeking disability benefits, RGG Law is here to give you guidance and advice. You can contact one of our disability attorneys today for a free consultation.