What is Strategic Disengagement?

sleeping at desk
I’m not sleeping… I’m strategically disengaging.

Strategic Disengagement is corporate terminology for taking a break, relaxing, and recharging your batteries. It helps prevent burnout, improves concentration, and increases productivity.

Most people strategically disengage at some level already (those two weeks of vacation, or two days over the weekend), but the workday doesn’t have to be over to start strategically disengaging. You can use quick five–minute breaks throughout the day to stay energized and engaged all day long.

The term “Strategic Disengagement” comes from the Human Performance Institute, which studied world class athletes as a way to better understand how to make world class employees (referred to as “Corporate Athletes”).

What they found, which will be no surprise to athletes, is that you reach peak performance not by exhausting yourself 100% of the time, or by sitting around doing nothing, but in oscillating between energy expenditure (such as working out) and energy renewal (resting).

Which leads to an important point—not all stress is bad. Yes, chronic distress causes muscle tension, increases blood pressure, lowers immunity, and can cause anxiety, depression, sadness, and burnout. But there’s also a good kind of stress, called eustress.

Eustress, defined as the positive cognitive response to stress that is healthy, helps you develop skills and is the key becoming more efficient and more effective. If you are never challenged or excited by your job, your skills will become stagnant and never improve.

Regardless of what kind of stress you face, you need rest. Taking a break helps you recharge, meaning you come back to work stronger, more focused, and re–energized.

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