Reaching our surge capacity and how to restore digital wellness

No one’s limit is identical, but we all know what it’s like to reach it. We stayed productive over seasons of social distancing, but our stress and anxiety has spiked. Here’s how we can replenish our digital wellness.

ARTICLE | 4m read
January 29, 2021

After spending most of 2020 working from home, we are all too familiar with operating on “surge capacity.” This is a psychology concept describing the the mental and physical ways human beings adapt to stressful situations like natural disasters. In the short term, drawing on our surge capacity is invaluable for survival. However, a prolonged crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic can keep us operating at surge capacity for a long time—and our health and wellness is paying a price.

The solution to this prolonged stress is not simply working harder or taking a day off. Replenishing our surge capacity requires us to go deeper in how we practice mindfulness, focus on the work that matters, and find community. Above all, we need to rethink how we approach digital wellness. To support and inspire you during this rethink, Citrix partnered with the Washington Post to create an interactive sound sanctuary tool. As you reexamine how you focus, renew, collaborate, and solve, we’ve prepared suggested sound mixes to accompany each point.

Focus: Power through familiar tasks without distraction

The endless badgering of apps, pings, and notifications can hinder productivity. Replace that noise with sounds to clear your head. Press play to focus on the work that matters.

Focus is often held up as the holy grail of workspace mindsets, that ideal state for getting as much done as we possibly can. However, prizing focus above all else has also contributed to the burnout that’s depleted our surge capacity and hurt our digital wellness. We should treat focus as one tool in our toolbox instead of our go-to for every moment. Focus is ideal for quickly powering through familiar, everyday tasks without letting ourselves get distracted. For deeper and more creative work, we should shift our mindsets into other modes.

Renew: Promote mindfulness to restore digital wellness

Fostering well-being and mindfulness can decrease employee burnout at large. Organic sounds, like crashing waves, can offer a moment of recovery on a busy day. Press play to reset.

Replenishing our surge capacity needs to be a regular part of our work, not something we squeeze into a weekend or one day off. This renewal can begin with simple breathing exercises that center us in the space and moment we are currently in. Next, we should turn off our screens and move our bodies in a relaxed walk or with yoga stretches. These exercises help promote mindfulness, which helps slow the pace of a frantic workday into an awareness of what matters most in each moment. This enables a calm and steady progress toward meaningful work every day.

Collaborate: Choose to listen at an intentional pace

With increased isolation comes a greater need for employees to find ways to connect. Create the space to collaborate with something airy or melodic. Press play to get to work.  

Now that remote work has become primary for most of us, cultivating a collaboration mindset is more important. While building strong community without a shared office takes creative thinking, prioritizing digital togetherness can prevent feelings of isolation and loneliness among your remote workforce. One way to do this is being intentional about listening to each other during remote meetings, making a point of commenting on each suggestion and idea instead of briskly moving on to the next item in the agenda. This can help moderate the fast pace of most meetings and give coworkers a shared sense of presence and working together.

Solve: Prepare your replenished mind for deeper work

Studies show that sound can enhance cognitive performance and even boost IQ test results by firing the nerve cells to the right half of the cerebral cortex (which is responsible for critical thinking). Press play to get to work.

Work is no longer an office—it’s a state of mind. Once we’ve taken time to rethink how we focus, renew, and collaborate, we can use our replenished digital wellness to solve meaningful problems. This involves firing up the right hemisphere of our brains to gain a holistic understanding of the challenges we face in our work, as well as the creativity to find new solutions. A key element of this is patience, as we need to allow our focus- and productivity-obsessed brains to relax and imagine.


Amy Haworth
Chief People Officer

Explore more on The Sound Sanctuary, a partnership with Washington Post.