How To Breathe Easy During 'The New Normal'
It's not been easy locked in for a year now. After months of lockdown most of us are ready to give up on staying sane.
Trying to find happiness and relaxation amidst a world on fire can do wonders for your mental health and can even improve your immunity in the long run. All it takes is putting as much effort into your peace of mind as your latest work project.
Separate your work and home life
Working from home can blur the lines between job and life, and it's important to separate the two; both for your sanity and for your family's sake. Your best practice here would be to designate a workspace for yourself, where your worries at home and stresses at work don't intermingle. Conversely, when your workday is done, cut off from the office completely. Don't check your emails after work hours, put your work laptop away, and consider turning on your phone's "Do Not Disturb" mode. When you create healthy boundaries that keep your work worries at the office, it becomes easier to engage in leisure time at home.
Make your house a safe haven
If you think a home office makes you more productive during working hours, why ignore your time away from the office? Create a safe space for yourself in your home. Provide for yourself a little corner with a comfy chair, mood lighting, some scented candles, and maybe even a pair of noise cancelling headphones. Decluttering your space is also a big part of this, as piles of papers have been shown to subconsciously increase stress and anxiety levels even in a resting state.
Create healthy routines
Healthy routines go a long way towards maintaining a work/life balance, as well as encouraging good habits. For instance, if you kickstart your morning with a cup of coffee, consider ending your day with a relaxing cup of tea. It's a good way to mark the end of your workday, and over time create a subtle signal for your body that it's time to relax and prepare for bed in a few hours. Try dressing up like you would for the office and log in on time to keep to your previous work rhythm. That way when the clock tells you it's closing time, you can have the pleasure of walking away and changing into more comfortable clothes.
If you have the space to go out and take a walk amidst nature, you're better off than most people. For the rest, even bringing the green home can do wonders. Try cultivating houseplants and observe the kind of difference it makes to both your home ambience and your mood. Or perhaps instead invest in a bird feeder you can latch onto your window, so you can observe them every day. It's a good reminder that even when our lives seem to have come to a standstill, the world keeps turning.
Find a hobby
It may not be enough to just find leisure time, many people also question what they would really do with it. Consider engaging in a hobby you haven't had time for, whether that's artistic pursuits, gaming, cooking, music, or something else. Find what sparks joy in your life, and it serves as a counterpoint to your daily work stress. An activity you can look forward to pursuing in your free time, even if it's just once a week.
Exercise your body and mind
What with being trapped at home, most of us aren't in the best shape right now. Take that as a challenge to better yourself. If you can't go for a daily walk, and pumping iron isn't your speed, try something like yoga instead. That way you're keeping your body active and fit while also finding a way to channel your restless energy.
Find solace in friends and family
Human interaction is especially important when it comes to being happy. Though some people attempt to be happier by focusing on just themselves, studies have shown that people with at least one social happiness strategy grow to be more satisfied with their lives over time. What that means is engaging with other people is a surefire route to happiness.
Start movie nights for the family, video chat with your friends, teach the kids to ride a bike or play a new board game, spend date nights with your significant other. Being locked in at home can feel isolating even with people around you, unless you make the effort to engage and spend time with them.
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