Scientists say this one quick fix can segment our day to create natural work/life boundaries
Back in March 2020, none of us could have imagined that we would still be confined to remote working 10 months on from the ‘work from home’ directive issued by the government in response to the pandemic.
As we close in on a full year of the most extraordinary and previously unimaginable events, not many of us can say we will emerge completely unscathed and for many of us the greatest impact will have been on our mental health.
Research published in May 2020 showed as many as 92% of people were working in the evenings and at weekends, many having already done so before COVID-19. The pandemic further fuelled the pre-existing blurred lines between home and the office, but when our homes became our offices, for many it was a downward spiral to mental health issues.
Technological advances are supposed to ease the 9-5 pressure but communication overload is taking over our lives with 34% of us checking our email as soon as we wake up in the morning and 72% admitting to leaving communication apps open all day long, allowing for no downtime.
In a study by NordVPN it has been claimed that remote workers are adding around two hours to each working day, which equates to an entire working week over a calendar month. This suggests that time normally spent commuting is now being spent working, which is leading to higher stress levels.
But, there is a simple way for us to get our work/life balance back under control. According to therapy experience lead, Jamie Goldstein, PsyD, of Coa (short for coalesce), all we need to do is delineate the start and end of our working day by very simply faking our commute.
Speaking to Healthline, Goldstein explained that the psychology world refers to natural boundaries between ourselves and work as ‘segmentation.’
“Before quarantine, we’d have time to go to and from our offices. We built in time for lunch hours and even travel time to go from one meeting or appointment to the next. These moments of physical transition allowed us to move between our roles as parents, project managers, partners, and more,” Goldstein commented.
It’s a simple concept and really up to the individual in terms of how they want to fake their commute. It doesn’t have to involve leaving the house, although the multiple benefits of fresh air and exercise are well-known and long established.
A brisk walk or run is an obvious choice but similarly a yoga practice session or any kind of workout serves to ‘segment’ your day, rather than waking up and heading straight to your desk. Getting out of the house also serves to combat seasonal affective disorder which afflicts many people in the cold, dark winter months. Vitamin D can still be absorbed on cloudy days, albeit minimal amounts.
At a time when so little travel is available to us, at least we know that a walk around the block might be all the travel we need to raise our spirits and to help us feel like our old pre-pandemic selves.
Images courtesy of KimSongsak Shutterstock.com & spkphotostock via iStock