Our new intern Chloe Fox missed her commute so much that she’s decided to take one even when locked down. Sound odd? Read on to be surprised…
I’m sure I’m not alone in having found myself swirling in a cocktail of personal wellbeing experiments to keep me grounded throughout 2020. It has been a year of drastic change for many of us, but one that has also felt totally stagnated at points.
Working from home has become a big part of modern life, and with this comes both pros and cons. While I have loved elements of home working – the extra time, the comfort of my own home and the ability to work in pjs if so desired – the moment of pause I got during commuting has been lost to the blur of lockdown. I think we can all agree how much nicer it is not to run for a bus or walk to work in the rain, but the positive impacts of commuting to and from the workplace run deeper than the negative impacts of minor irritations that occasionally arise on the way to work.
As a relatively new freelancer and temp worker, I have spent the lockdown getting my head around creating my own schedule. As someone who is definitely not an early bird, it’s become increasingly difficult to be disciplined with a morning routine. Rolling out of bed straight to the computer becomes all too tempting when you expect to only see the same four walls for the day. But this encourages us to work far more than we should be, and eliminates the time we use for necessary daily exercise. “Creating space between ‘home’ and ‘work’ is helpful in setting and keeping boundaries between the two, and creating a routine,” says Kristen Scarlett, LMHC, a licensed mental health counselor and co-founder of Octave, a virtual service offering online care. “Having a routine or schedule, even one that is self-imposed, helps us feel ‘in control’ of our time, especially when so much in our lives feels out of control.”
A short walk each day not only burns calories and boosts energy levels, but it is also a vital time taken for clearing the mind and helping to eliminate stress. Similarly, commuting on transport is a time we use to take stock, mentally prepare for the day ahead, or even read and listen to music. Without it, we may feel a lack of differentiation between home and work, as well as finding ourselves less able to cope with stressful situations while working, in the way we ordinarily would.
Throughout lockdown, I have meditated, yoga’d, ran, and written, but for the past week, I thought I would give the growing-in-popularity ‘fake commute’ a chance. My step count has been dwindling and the weather has become less and less inviting, but the fake commute encourages you to put aside a moment in the day, in the same way you would in a usual work scenario: to punctuate the day and replenish the comfort that is found in day-to-day structure. I’ve created a rhythm of showering, getting ready, having breakfast and then walking (as if to go to work). But has it worked? So far, I’ve felt more motivated throughout the day, more inspired and able to sleep better. Before creating myself a pattern, I was feeling scattered and unmotivated by early afternoon, most likely due to a lack of breaks and beginning work as soon as I woke up. Creating a 2 hour break before beginning the day has encouraged me to be more structured with the rest of my time too.
Next day delivery, instant takeaways, binge-able TV series’, instant gratification on social media, and time optimising technologies all contribute to a faster pace of life. With constant immediacy comes both impatience and a lack of gratitude for the desired product, but anticipation is an essential part of the enjoyment of life’s highlights. Working from home without a moment taken to frame the beginning and end of each day diminishes the time-in-between even further, leaving us feeling stagnant and unstimulated without the yin to the yang.