Stuck in lockdown? Feeling trapped by the reality we find ourselves in? We can assure you that you’re not the only one who feels this way.
Whether it’s school, work or socialising, it’s all performed in front of a screen in isolation. Stay at home orders have pushed everything online, blurring boundaries between work and home. In an age ruled by remote working, how do we “switch off” and make time for ourselves?
Why you need time away from screens
Have you ever experienced eye strain, headaches, and blurred vision after a long day of work or a Netflix binge? Experts define this as computer vision syndrome. Blue light emitted from digital devices suppresses the sleep-promoting hormone, melatonin. This hormone is responsible for regulating the body’s night and day cycles. There’s also a strong correlation between excessive screen time and the development of mental disorders like depression. Experts recommend setting boundaries around screen time for optimal wellness.
So, how do you switch off?
Here are some tips we’ve learnt for switching off:
Affirm your boundaries
If you report to someone as an employee, be open about your need to switch off by a certain time. You need to partake in food preparation, do your bit to clean the house and spend time with your family, etc. If you know how to manage your time and get your work done, there’s no shame in gently setting boundaries with your employer.
Other ways you can set boundaries with screens include:
- avoid looking at screens in the two hours before bed
- encourage conversation over dinner rather than being separated by devices
- put your phone on silent, or completely switch off after the workday.
Affirming boundaries is the first step to establishing a healthy work-life balance.
Break up your day
Creating variation in your day is essential for effective time management. But how do you do this?
Here are some suggestions for creating variation:
- always move away from the screen when eating
- step away from the screen every 20 minutes (quickly sweep the floor, do a round of star jumps to get your heart rate up, or do some stretching)
- make time for exercise
- retreat to a different part of the house when you’re not working.
It’s also very important to make time for hobbies – after work and on weekends. There’s more to you than your work responsibilities. Do you play an instrument? Do you love to paint and draw? Enjoy gardening? Whatever you like doing, reward yourself by spending time on a hobby-related activity every day!
Broaden your mind
Remember when we said to avoid being in front of a screen two hours before bed? Reading is an enriching alternative. Pick up a book instead of numbing yourself with a Netflix binge. Live vicariously through your favourite characters or deepen your knowledge on a topic you find fascinating. Reading yields boundless possibilities for mental stimulation.
Don’t overdose on news
Sure, do a quick check to ensure you understand the restrictions that apply to your area. But don’t go down the rabbit hole of trying to understand how different COVID-19 variants have spread, or dwell too heavily on the number of cases that were reported that day. Such behaviour aggravates sadness and anxiety. Instead of fixating on things outside your control, focus on your personal situation and what you can do to best support yourself and those around you.
Keeping fit and healthy is a central tenant of overall wellbeing. That’s why it’s so important to stick to an exercise routine. Whether you enjoy yoga, bike riding, dancing, or anything in between, make time for it every day. Yes, the benefits of exercise are well known, but how do you make time for it?
Here are our suggestions:
- an hour before you start work
- half an hour before or after lunch
- through miscellaneous errands (e.g. walking to the grocery shops).
Not doing exercise makes you feel like a hamster trapped on a wheel. Invigorate yourself by moving your body for at least 30 minutes a day.
Lead by example
If you’re an employer, encourage your team to make time for themselves. Open this window of conversation in team meetings and discuss the importance of switching off. Doing this creates a culture of happy workers who are motivated to perform their best.
Work on your relationship with yourself
Having lots of time alone comes with the territory of being forced to stay home. But you might feel uncomfortable about sharing your innermost thoughts and feelings with other people. So, what can you do as an alternative release? Write it down. Be your own best friend. Have honest conversations about where you’re at and how you’re feeling. COVID-19 is a critical point in history. Future generations will want to learn and understand what it was like during the pandemic. Being candid about how we feel in writing is of luminous value.
Being forced to stay home has its challenges. But we can make our circumstances more enjoyable by switching off every so often.
Want to free up more time in your day? We’re more than happy to assist.
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