Last week for the first time I ventured out of my home to travel and stay with my eldest sister for a few days. It was a mere three hours drive from my place but the threat of the virus, the second wave and the need to ensure safety and social distancing had made me reflect a lot and stay indoors. With relatives and close family, the physical distance pales in front of the emotional bond. That is one bond the virus can never break. If at all, for many of us, the pandemic has strengthened our ties with our loved ones. The circle of closed ones has only grown closer. Friendships have gotten renewed. Connections have been revived. People have found their own grove to ensure they have each other’s back. Such a comforting thought!
This post is not about that. It is about what followed once I had reached my sister’s home. What struck me on my very short vacation was my own inability to unwind. Day one I was tensed. I could feel my whole body go taut – I felt rudderless without my laptop and the comfort of my working desk and chair that I had left behind. Sitting in that space for over 16 months made me realise how attached I had become to that little study corner in my room. The vicissitudes of the pandemic had washed over me in that very corner. This was my own zone where I had spent my days working away. Locking out the world, literally. Moving away from it I felt like a little lost sheep.
Needless to say, it left me very agitated. I had to make a conscious decision to unwind. This left me wondering about the trap we may have walked into. Unknowingly. Has staying indoors made us slaves of our own selves? We have perhaps become incapable of unwinding and getting blown with the wind.
Here is what I have targeted over the next few months to come out of this trap.
- Take frequent mini breaks – every 15 days, take a day off or if that is not possible, a half day to begin with. What I do or not do becomes secondary. Not all days off need to be for a planned purpose. Just chill and do nothing!
- When on leave, leave the laptop behind and do not access mails on the phone. Sounds tough, eh? My fingers will itch to look up the emails on phone. I will feel lost without my laptop. But I am going to learn to be with my own self and/or in the company of others. Sometimes, we all need to go back to the basics.
- Do not respond to non-emergency WhatsApp messages. For me, the ideal solution here is to be in a non-network zone! But if I cannot do that, I am going to put on the Do Not Disturb sign and stay off the messaging spree. Recently, Apple and Microsoft have unraveled several tools that assist in creating boundaries between work life and personal life. Many offices too have defined strict ‘off work’ lunch hours and encourage regular workdays where there ought to be no meetings.
- Develop new virtual friendships and get to know new people. And it does not necessarily have to be people from my own professional arena. There is just so much new to learn out there!
Will the four day a week work culture be born in these times? It is something I am definitely keeping an eye out for. However, even that will not help me unwind unless I start becoming conscious of my own obsession and attachment to work. I need to redefine myself.
How are you unwinding in these difficult times?
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