Self-care: a change of scenery

Catherine and I were speaking to a friend at the weekend in our weekly FaceTime catch-up. It’s not the same as seeing each other in person, but it certainly helps to share the common trials of lockdown. On this occasion we talked about the difficulties of working from home and its effects on our emotions. We spoke of days when we all experienced a complete lack of motivation for work, or any task beyond the morning coffee. Other days work pressure seemed more intense and the predictable routine at home didn’t help.


My suggestion to both my friend and Catherine was to make time in their work schedule to change scenery. There were two ways to approach this so as not to completely disrupt the work day. I’d recommend exactly the same to anyone working from home or just needing a break from the mundane routine of lockdown, here’s how.


Firstly add a daily meeting to get out for a walk and take a break from your immediate environment. I’d recommend this at a time when you often feel your lowest in energy and mood, as a “circuit breaker” for the mind and body. Even better would be to take lunch outside and eat it away from where you are working. Possibly taking an hour lunch, even if this means starting work earlier, or working later. Ideally this should be some green space like a park where you can see trees, animal life and colour. Failing that anywhere that feels comfortable and soothing. For example I like cycling to Botany Port to watch the tugs bringing in the container ships. There’s something strangely cathartic about watching the massive cranes and forklifts offloading and moving around.


Secondly I recommended you try an artist’s date (from The Artist’s Way) because I’ve found this to be incredibly powerful for my mental health. I’ll admit this requires a longer time period, normally 2-3 hours. However I think we can adapt it here to a work day and still get a good amount of benefit. My suggestion is to create a mid-week appointment for this as it will help to refresh you and break your week in two. I’d advise two rules that you don’t break. Firstly never change this appointment. Treat it like it’s a court date. Secondly do something you always want to do, but feel you don’t have the time for. It is precisely by carving out this time for yourself and defending it that you get the most benefit. It is saying to yourself and others that this is your time. Call it mental health hour, a self-care session or a doctor’s appointment, just don’t give it up, for anything. Then when you go and use that time, enjoy it. It will help with everything else. It is certainly not a waste of time, but an investment in yourself and your mental and physical health. Ultimately it may just stop you burning out.


If you want to find out more about this, The Artist’s Way or you have any other questions feel free to reach out at tjalfry@gmail.com


What do you do for yourself?


Tom :)