Coronavirus has changed everything. Most of us are now working from home. We are all experiencing the effects of “social distancing” and other impacts of the current lockdown which have dramatically restricted our lives. The biggest of which is that we have no idea when or how this will all end. Many of us are feeling anxious.
Having worked from home for several years now and been isolated from the country where I normally conduct my business and where, more importantly, most of my friends are based, I have unintentionally gained some experience of how to cope with working from home, the effects of social distance and the anxieties that arise from this.
I have also benefited from the regular practice of mindfulness. So from these perspectives, I offer the following 5 practical suggestions:
1. STRUCTURE & BALANCE TO YOUR DAILY ROUTINE
We are creatures of habit, routine and ritual.
Create a structure for the day and follow the same structure every day - of if you work have a work day structure Mon - Fri and then a weekend structure.
Break the day down into sections
Getting Up Routine: ablutions, walk into the garden / just outside to see what weather's like, breathe in some fresh air do a little exercise just to wake up.
Work: Coffee + do some work tasks/if not working engage in a project.
Exercise: Get out of the flat/house - I walk the dog or go buy food [even with current lockdown we are allowed out to buy food and separately to exercise.
Lunch break - I ALWAYS have a set lunch break and read my kindle for 20-30 mins - you could listen to music or do something else for 20-30 mins while you have lunch.
Lunch break is important as it marks the passage from morning to afternoon and is a complete psychological and emotional break.
Work: I spend a couple of hours after lunch engaged in work or a personal project.
Tea Break: have a tea/coffee/water break for 10 mins and just sit and take a few deep breaths and look out of the window and relax.
Exercise: Get out of doors and get fresh air and walk/jog for 20-30 mins. You may plan this so you walk past a friend's house and he/she could just "happen" to be sitting on their doorstep leaning over the fence or whatever and you have a quick face to face chat from 2 metres before continuing your walk. It is vital to have outside exercise wherever possible and walk/jog hard enough to break a sweat.
Socialise: Shower and prepare for the evening section of the day. Pour a drink - or have another water - and call a friend - better still call 2 or 3 friends and/or family. You may need to plan/arrange some of this but this is your daily social contact and it is important.
Dinner : Prepare your evening meal and think about and select your evening's entertainment - Netflix/Amazon/TV etc. I always find something to watch that is engaging and that takes me out of myself.
Bedtime : Try and get to bed early and/or on time every night. Sleep and rest are very important to strengthening your immune system. Try and get outside in the garden/backyard etc for 5-10 mins - to just look at the sky and take a few deep breaths - just before going to bed.
Take a book or kindle to bed to read before sleeping and to read in the night if you wake up or are a poor sleeper (like I am).
2. FRAMING YOUR PRESENT LIFE
This is absolutely the key to all this! Adopt a mindful approach to each day. Use this website for specific material and practical guidance on this.
* Focus on each moment, each activity and task with your whole focus.
* Be present in all that you do.
* Live one day at a time.
* Live each day as if it was your last day on this earth.
* Find the meaning in the smallest of things.
Done mindfully every action and activity becomes deeply meaningful. This is a big subject and requires conscious effort - but the payback in learning “how to think” and even more importantly how to ”not think” - is massive. Again I would urge you to use the resources on this website - or any other such material if you have it.
3. EXERCISE INDOORS AND OUTSIDE EVERY DAY
As outlined above, exercise is key for physical health and mental health.
4. REGULAR DAILY SOCIAL CONTACT AND CONNECTION
As outlined above, social contact and connection is key for emotional and psychological health.
5. FINDING THE MEANING
The meaning, point and purpose of your experience of current times is entirely what you choose it to be.
You can allow this time to weaken you and diminish and disempower yourself, OR you can choose to create your own meaning and purpose and use this time to strengthen, refresh and empower yourself!
Please refer again to the notes in Point 2. above. If you would like a series of emails - offering brief messages of insight and encouragement - based on the Zen Tools website themes - approximately every 3 days - then see Zen Tools Email Series.
Take a Mindful Approach to COVID-19
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Video - Some Good News with John Krasinski
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