Days are merging into one. Let's be honest, weeks are merging into one. It's becoming more overwhelming and there's not really an end in sight yet but we have to perservere and we have to keep working. Things will eventually get better and until then all we can do is try make the best of the situation at hand. So, we're back with some top tips gathered from friends and family about how to manage this tricky time best.
Allowing Myself to Relax
Relaxing in ways I don’t normally have the time to or have always wanted to but have never gotten around to has been a real treat. I don’t normally have a moment to pop on my favourite playlist and have a boogie, or to sit down early in the evening with popcorn and watch a film that’s been on my wishlist for years (finally watched My Neighbour Toroto and I have no regrets). Have a list of luxury ways to relax, luxury in the sense that you don’t normally have the luxury of time to do them. I've been finding that this wishlist making my relaxing time feel less guilty and more fulfilled.
Keeping Busy vs Feeling Bored
Closely related to the first point, striking the balance between keeping busy and feeling a bit bored is important. You don't want to overwhelm yourself with so many to-dos that you don't want to do any of them and they all become chores. That feeling of boredom is what excites our creativity to come up with new ways to spend time, or helps us remember all the things we wished we were doing when we were working 9-5 pre-coronavirus. In a life where I hardly get a second to stop and breathe, feeling bored has been quite welcomed.
However, there's a fine line, boredom for too long ends in grumpiness (believe me, I've already made this mistake and it's not fun. Then I fell deep into a hole of TikTok and Instagram videos and felt even worse). The list from the previous point can be helpful in this case but also having a bit of a routine to fall back into when you really can't think of anything to do can be useful. Maybe your go-to is knitting or yoga or reading, just something (preferrably not technology-based) that lets your mind rest a bit while keeping busy enough to not feel frustrated.
As someone who has recently discovered the value of exercise to my health and has become reliant on my gym subscription, this one has been particularly tricky. We all know the story, endorphins and all. Genuinely, moving our bodies in some form should make us feel better and getting your sweat on is a great way to break up the day (and a good reminder to shower because let’s be honest, they can’t smell you through those Microsoft Teams calls). I’ve been trying to do some at home workouts that don’t disturb my downstairs neighbour and it’s made me feel a lot better. 20 Minute Full Body Workout - no equipment, no noise // Full Body HIIT Workout - no equipment, no jumping // Lizzo Truth Hurts Cardio/Abs Workout. If I’m not feeling up to a workout, I’ll just do a ten minute yoga flow or some stretches, anything to move my body and adjust my posture has been a huge physical and mental relief to all the confusion. It’s just nice to feel something real and be connected to something tangible.
It can be really hard to get into the mood of being productive and many of us are working from home so we can't spend all day ticking off our relaxation wishlist. Motivating ourselves to get online and start work isn't easy but there are definitely things that have helped me. I start every morning with a bit of a routine, at least I still have breakfast, brush my teeth, get dressed...etc. This semblance of normality tricks me into starting work as if I was at work. It's a start.
Clearing my workspace is also key to being motivated, otherwise I just sit at my desk, get overwhelmed and check the Guardian for half an hour. Clearing my workspace almost preps my mind for a day of work. I also clear my digital workspace, which includes archiving emails and emptying my downloads and bin folders. That only lasts so long though before the dirty coffee mugs and random notebooks begin to pile around me, so to keep me going through the day I break the day up with goals and breaks. I try limit myself to three key goals a day with anything else achieved as a bonus and I start my work day by setting these out. Then I set out my breaks, maybe my one form of outdoor exercise can be one, and an online coffee date can be another. I work these into my schedule to keep me going!
Finally, the Flora app has been great to help me get through chunks of time working also whilst not being able to use my phone. The premise of the app is that you plant virtual trees and they take a set time to grow. If you exit the app mid-growth then the tree dies, and you travel around the world planting different trees. You can do it with friends and also add a financial consequence if you are so inclined. Of course this isn't necessarily possible for everyone as phones are key tools in the workplace, but it's really helped me keep off my social media whilst also remembering to take breaks inbetween tree-growth for stretching and water.
This is a weird time and we need to look after ourselves and each other now more than ever. Two weeks into being isolated from society is tough enough and it sounds like we may be this way for the long haul so I’m committed to making these tips part of my daily routine. Oh and here's a playlist or two that are helping get me through.
Stay home. Stay safe. xx