Recreation, Leisure and Self-Care

The Covid-19 requirement for persons to self-isolate and maintain social distancing is a shock to many, and with good reason. Isolation from society is the basis of imprisonment in many societies, and the negative psychological impacts of being unable to visit – even on a restricted basis – the bars, clubs, cafes, parks that they have grown accustomed to, are compounded by the inability of persons in many areas to cook in some instances, or being forced to consume a limited range of foods repeatedly, alongside the learning curve stresses of work-from-home and learning to use technology – it can be overwhelming to many and some in fact have proven themselves unable to cope. For most it is tolerable, and a mix of digital content and social media have been helping persons to recover (doing virtual workout sessions), share their frustrations and adventures (especially in the kitchen), and overall function at some reasonable level of normalcy.

Taking Time Off: In the work context, having ring-fenced work into set times and places, it is important that persons (still bound to the same apartment or home) set some time aside for relaxation, recreation and leisure. Recreation and leisure can be bound into any number of home-based activities – be it technology-driven (such as gaming, creating digital content, catching up on series’ seasons, starting an interest-based cause or group online, or starting a training course); or non-tech-based activities (including reading, sewing, gardening, drawing, painting, craft, exercise, learning to DJ…). One individual stripped down an old computer and is in the process of reassembling it (Good luck, guy. If you don’t have extra parts left over, you did it wrong). Others have chosen to adopt pets to care for and keep them company. Whatever option you choose would vary by individual interest and preference, but it is worth noting that having some avenue to channel your energy and attention is more important that what the activity is – think of it as a mental distraction that you enjoy, and it is completely ok to decide you are not interested and make the switch.

Working Your Body to Help Your Brain: Working from home also tends to demand a lot of ‘brain-work’ – perhaps up to 80% of effort is on some type of communication (reading or consuming content, and writing or creating content, or participating in virtual meetings) – which can leave drained and exhausted. A common and emphasized recommendation to deal with this demand is to establish a daily exercise regimen – an intense 30-40-minute workout session has been shown to increase blood circulation, help build focus and retention, and relax muscle groups that are locked in fixed positions for extended periods. Doing this as part of your daily activities, or at minimum 3-4 days each week, promises to have considerable positive effects on your work, your abilities and your overall mood.

Managing Your Mental Health: The frustrations of working from home alongside the frustrations of being in isolation can take its toll on your mental health. The stress of work, meetings and managing your time, effort and concentration, along with the restlessness of being stuck indoors can lead to spates of depression, frustration, anxiety and loneliness. These can trigger downstream issues of alcoholism, substance abuse, or even violence propensities.

A good proven method to manage these issues is that of Journaling – writing your thoughts both as a means of self-expression (that leaves you feeling better) and as a method of clarifying your thoughts, and their train, towards a more manageable endpoint. Journal entries can be broad and general in its scope – an expression of your thoughts about life in general or the situation you find yourself in; or it can be very specific and focused on a particular issue – being frustrated with your meal plan or a work-related issue.

Happy Hours: Some work teams maintain virtual ‘Happy Hours’ – where they focus on collegial interaction and informal conversations – sharing their challenges, tips, tricks and techniques for dealing with the issues at hand and other thoughts, as you would in an office environment.