Due to the government guidelines around social distancing, those of us who aren’t essential workers are getting used to WFH right now. And that’s given us a little stretch of extra time in the mornings and evenings instead of our regular journey to the office. It’s tempting to curl up under the duvet for longer and spend an extra hour bingeing Netflix after work, but using this magic time for a self-care activity can be a positive step towards leaving us feeling more relaxed, motivated and organized when it does come to our working hours. Feel free to try one of our six suggestions, or come up with one of your own. You may find you enjoy it so much, you still make the time for it when everything returns to normal.
1 Make time for your meals
Although it’s regarded as the most important meal of the day, nearly half of Brits struggle to find time to eat a proper breakfast, according to a 2017 survey. And when we’re dashing to the office, it can be tempting to wolf down the same bowl of cereal, or slice of toast every day, instead of making something we actually enjoy.
Having that extra time in the morning is the perfect excuse to make a proper breakfast, and to practise mindfulness as you eat it. Whether it’s trying out new porridge toppings, or making eggs your favourite way, take time to prepare your food and sit down to enjoy it properly before starting work. The same applies for dinner. Try cooking some of those slower recipes that you usually save for the weekend by starting your prep when you would usually be travelling back from the office.
2 Prioritise exercise
Even though we’re stuck inside – apart from essential errands and our one allotted walk, cycle, or run each day – fitness brands and personal trainers are coming up with innovative ways to get us moving. Third Space (@thirdspacelondon), Psycle (@psyclelondon) and many other fitness studios are running live workouts on Instagram, conveniently scheduled around office hours. Joe Wicks’ ‘PE with Joe’ classes on YouTube are a great way to get the whole family moving and have some fun together. For something a bit more subdued, search ‘Yoga With Adriene’ on YouTube for an extensive archive of yoga flows and stretches, perfect to help us wake up or wind down at either end of the working day.
3 Organise your space
We’ve all heard the phrase ‘tidy desk, tidy mind’, but when working from home it’s arguably even more important to that our space is working for us. This is because, typically, we associate home with rest and our office with work, so it’s important to establish boundaries to keep us motivated. If you’re lucky enough to have an office room, then why not tidy your bookshelves, put a plant on your desk, or hang a print on the wall to create an inviting space you actually want to spend time in. If you usually work in the kitchen or at the dining room table (yes, us too), make sure the room is clean and clutter-free before you start work. Five minutes before your office hours begin, make sure you have a notebook, pen and glass of water to hand. Then at the end of the day, tidy your work stuff away, so that you can properly distinguish between home and office hours.
4 Spend time reading
When was the last time you actually sat down for an uninterrupted hour with a good book? We’re so used to skimming snippets of news on our phones, or flicking through a couple of pages on the commute, that a lot of us have forgotten to devote time to reading as a leisure activity. And as well as being enjoyable, reading has health benefits, too. Studies have shown that reading for pleasure can increase our emotional intelligence, may help to delay dementia and can boost our confidence and self-esteem. Plus, if the lure of a lie-in is too much to ignore, it can be a good excuse to spend a little bit extra time in bed, or an effective way of winding down early at the end of the day.
5 Indulge in a pamper session
Pampering and grooming easily takes lower priority when we’re busy. But with more time on our hands, it’s another way to relax, take our mind off the news for a while and prioritise our wellbeing for a designated slot each day. Whether it’s giving yourself a manicure, or applying a face mask, treat yourself to something that you don’t always make time for. And if you get bored, or fidgety, choose an episode of your favourite TV show to watch before allowing your mask to set. A study by the University of Chicago even showed that re-watching our favourite TV series can have self-care benefits, as we are able to switch off from the plot and focus on our own enjoyment. As if we needed an excuse to re-watch Friends for the 100th time.
6 Get creative
Another way to fill our would-be commuting time is by picking up a craft, like knitting, or drawing. Research from the BBC has proven that creative hobbies can help our mental health in a number of meaningful ways. The BBC Arts Great British Creativity Test collected data from 50,000 people and found that as well as providing a distraction from external stress factors in our lives, creative hobbies gave us the mental space to reassess our problems, as well as helping us to build our confidence and self-esteem. And even if it does take some time to refine your skill, just having a go and opening up your artistic side can be good fun.