For most of 2020, people were thrown into a frenzy of unwelcome situations that felt simultaneously spontaneous and overwhelmingly stifling. Normally, working from home can be a really fun event but in 2020 we even managed to stretch that.
Relaxing when you’re working from home can be hard — us writers have known that all along — so it’s understandable if you find yourself unraveling. It’s hard to relax under pressure.
In 2020 I found new ways to un-wind during lockdown. On some days we weren’t allowed to step outside at all. On those days I needed these the most.
It wasn’t that I particularly wanted to go outside on those days — bring me a good book and a blanket and I’m happy — but more that I wanted the choice to go outside.
These are some tips for how to relax when you’re working from home but they’re also tips on how to relax when you’re facing a series of uncontrollable events. In some ways, this last year, they were kind of the same thing.
Setting The Mood
Sometimes, when it comes to winding down, I just need to trick myself into relaxing. I light a candle and I dim the lights. I play calming spa music and I drink herbal tea. I put my feet in a bath and I paint my nails. All the time and in my head I say to myself this is for you, this is for me. And I mean it when I say it.
Setting the mood works incredibly well for me. After years of doing this somewhere in the middle of it all my body has started to physically take these cues and actually relax. I stop clenching my jaws tightly. My back feels a little looser.
Of all of my tips this is probably the most untenable. This might be the one that is never really within reach for some people.
But I only know that it works for me because one day I simply tried and I told myself it was an experiment. So, if you’re feeling bold, give it a whirl.
Change Your Clothes
Where: You mean when, and it’s at the end of the day 😉
This simple act has changed my life. Sometimes I even shower for good measure because the physical feeling of a different set of clothes — even if they are just another set of pyjamas — puts me in a different mindset. I might not be commuting that far anymore, nobody can control that, but I am changing into my civilian clothes for the night.
Changing your clothes after a long day working from home is as much an act control as it is an act of self-care.
Exercise & Yoga
Where: At home, in a gym, whereever
I’ve said it before, but moving really does something for me. Sometimes I just need to stretch for a few minutes. Other times I need to run or do something more energetic.
I find silence and peace in movement. The more concentration something requires the longer and firmer the silence in my mind. It echoes for a long time afterwards, calming me and settling my thoughts.
My favourite yogi is Adriene.
Meditation Minis Podcast
I think I like meditation but whenever I sit down to do it I get antsy on my own. Somewhere, deeply engrained within me, there is a sense that time is being wasted. This is definitely not the truth but it is still there, teasing me in the dark; making me wiggle my nose, purse my lips and wrinkle my brow
I know I love this podcast. It condenses meditation into 5-10 minute segments that you can carry out in bed, in the car, on a walk, or wherever you are. Each podcast has a theme. And each podcast is repeatable.
Your guide, Chel Hamilton, is a hypnotherapist.
Meditation Minis got me through some times in the last twelve months so I definitely recommend a listen.
Turn Off The Phone
I get phoned constantly during work. Gone are the days of the simple email. I get messaged. I get WhatsApp’d. I get called. I get tagged. I get @mentioned. I get everything. All this is fine but not everyone obeys the sanctity of after-hours. And not everyone has the luxury to obey that sanctity anymore.
A rule that began in my team during lockdown with work was to turn off your phone when you logged off. We worked in shifts for almost 24 hours a day, every day of the week. Somebody in our office was always awake at some point. Somebody in our office was needed to be awake.
Rather than try to stop the phone calls and messages (we needed them) the rule became that if you didn’t respond there were many other people who would and should — you just had to trust this and turn off your phone when you were officially off.
Things aren’t as bad at work now — we’re pretty much back to 9-5 — but I keep my phone rule running. I’ll leave it on for a few hours after work but once we hit 7pm I turn it off, place it in my desk, and I walk away. I’ve realised the simple act of switching it off changes a gear in my brain. When it’s off, I’m off too.