With lockdown restrictions easing around the world, the routines we had developed over the last few months are adapting, as we move slowly back to a ‘normal’ work life. This period of slowdown has been a great time to pause and reflect for a lot of us, and we should therefore think carefully about our approach to the next phase, rather than just falling back into our old patterns and habits.
As today is International Day of Yoga, it seemed the perfect time to think about how we consciously restart and reset our worklife. One of the things I am grateful for during the lockdown period is restarting my yoga practice again, through Zoom classes with the lovely Camilla Knight, these regular sessions have allowed my practice to extend beyond the mat, which has been hugely beneficial for my wellbeing (and sanity!) during this trying period.
The key principles of yoga can easily be applied to our day-to-day lives, and it’s worth thinking about them a you start establishing new routines. I’ve rounded up five simple things that I want to stick to moving forward, which will have a huge impact as things pick up again:
1. Kindness, patience and compassion
It’s been an incredibly difficult period for everyone, and it’s going to continue to be difficult for some time to come. Try not to let your frustrations, anxiety and stress get the better of you when dealing with others. Be patient, try to avoid aggressive emails and calls, be kinder than you need to. Try to help offer solutions and constructive criticism, rather than simply complaining, and avoid gossiping about others. Let go of perfection and accept that mistakes happen. This applies to you too! Be kind and compassionate to yourself, practice positive reinforcement rather than beating yourself up.
Let go of your ego and make an honest assessment of where you are now and where you want to get to. Think about your challenges and where you might need help or support – and reach out and ask! Be honest with others too, share your thoughts and feedback - just try to do it in a way that is inspiring and constructive. Accept the current situation, times are hard and uncertain, and it’s not necessarily going to improve overnight, so be kind to yourself and focus on what you can do each day, rather than thinking too far ahead, or comparing to the past. Be in the present and accept yourself and your situation, as well as the things you cannot change.
Focus on the task, or day, at hand to really be in the present. In our previously busy lives, many of us had become expert multi-taskers, and we need to let go of this. In order to achieve the best results, for our work and for our own mental health, we need to concentrate on one thing at a time, rather than everything at once. On a Thursday (the end of the working week here in Dubai), create a list of items to achieve the following week and then switch off for the weekend. When the week starts, prioritise the actions you have listed, focus your time and effort on each one, before moving onto the next item. Minimise distractions while carrying out these tasks – close yourself away in a room if you need to focus, turn off your email alerts and phone notifications while you are carrying out your task. When having Zoom calls, or starting face-to-face meetings again, practice effective listening – put your phone down, close the laptop, and don’t let your mind drift – really pay attention to what the other person is saying.
4. Regular, effective breaks
It’s amazing how much more inspiration and creativity you can get, and how much more productive you can be, when you’re feeling fresh and having regular breaks. Get up and walk around your office regularly, set yourself an hour or two to complete a task and reward yourself by getting up from your chair and taking your eyes away from the screen. Don’t just swap one screen for another by going straight to your phone! Get up from your desk, and leave your phone on it! If you can, do some stretches, chat to someone (whether in person or on the phone), have a healthy snack (not at your desk), or make a cup of tea. Don’t eat lunch at your desk, take the time to go somewhere else to eat (and don’t just sit on your phone while eating lunch either – get away from those screens!) Make sure you maintain these regular breaks, not just when you stop for lunch – you’ll get much better results than if you work straight through.
When times are tough, it can be all too easy to fall into a pit of despair, feeling lost and sorry for ourselves, and unfortunately these negative thought patterns often have a rapid downward spiral. Whilst we are accepting that times are tough and unfair, we also need to make every effort to appreciate what we have got to be thankful for. This might be your health, your family and friends (and their health), your home, the hobbies that you have (and the fact that you are able to indulge in them), the environment that you live in, your work or knowledge, the achievements in your life, the experiences you have had, the places you’ve travelled to, and the memories you have made. One thing we can be certain of, is that nothing every stays the same, these times will change so do’t let yourself get pulled down by negative emotions – a lot of the most important things in your life are still there, even if you cannot access them as you would like at the moment, the time will come again, so be grateful for the fact they are there, waiting for you.
Hopefully, these ideas might resonate with some of you, it’s actually quite therapeutic for me to list them and remind myself again of my key principles moving forward, so I hope it has the same effect for others. Happy International Yoga Day and Summer Solstice (and lunar eclipse – talk about an auspicious day!) and namaste!