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Giving Yourself Permission to Take a Break From Work

It is amazing how much of our lives we spend at work. Over your lifetime it will be an average of over 82,000 hours, and if you added all of the miles you spent commuting, you’d almost reach the moon!

It's no surprise then that in these unusual times, with many of us finding ourselves either working from home or on furlough, that it's easy to feel a little lost.

For those on furlough, it can be hard to shake the feeling that they ‘ought’ to be working. For workers toiling away at home, it can be difficult to know when to stop. Despite initial fears of the opposite, anecdotal evidence shows that people are actually working longer hours with less proper breaks.

How then can we give ourselves permission to take a step back and breathe?

Firstly, whichever situation you are in, you need to ensure that each day has a sense of purpose. An outcome, a reason for being. You need to be able to see or feel the results of what you’ve done and, if relevant, share that with others. This sense of purpose allows us to feel validated, in our own small way, we are contributing something.

Secondly, it is so important to get some exercise and fresh air. Even in the rain! Getting outside will remind us that we are part of something bigger than just ourselves. There is a real world out there, even though it may seem to be on pause at the moment.

Thirdly, let go of the guilt. Yes, there are awful things going on, but there are also incredible things happening too. This situation is not your fault. You are allowed to make the most of the opportunities you have. That might be doing something you love in the time that you would be commuting. It might be doing something you never had the time to do when you were working all day. Remember, feeling bad doesn’t help anyone and it just means we are less able to respond when others do call on us. Ditch the guilt and do something that makes you feel good instead.

Next up, help others. It doesn’t matter if its full on volunteering or a phone call to a friend who’s self isolating. Anything you can do to add to someone else’s well-being is time well spent. You need to ensure you look after yourself too though and never be afraid to ask for help.

Fifth on the list, do something new. This is a great time to let go of those preconceived ideas we have of ourselves. So what if you just ‘aren’t the sort of person to do yoga’, have never baked a muffin in your life or were always the last one to get picked for the sports team. These are unusual times and that means you can can do unusual things! So long as it improves your mood and maybe even that of those around you, the possibilities are endless.

Next, look into learning. One thing that this environment makes crystal clear is just how difficult it is to stand still. Life never does, usually we are just too busy to notice. It may be now or when all of this is done, but looking at what you can learn is a great way to broaden our minds and move forward. It might be a formal qualification, learning a language or simply a training course to get over that public speaking fear you always had. It doesn’t matter how big or small, its the potential for positive change that matters

Finally, look to the future. Make the most of now and plan ahead. This situation won’t last forever. If today was tough, it will have gone by tomorrow. Look for ways to improve the now - declutter your environment or buy an amazing pillow. Line something up for tomorrow or later in the week - a call with a good friend. Conquering an online pub quiz. A letter to your Gran, heck, a letter to someone else’s gran! Just something positive that you can look forward to and will allow you to feel good.

Eat as well as you can, sleep as well as you can, find some ‘you time’ as much as you are able. Then, plan for the future. Beyond lockdown. Beyond 2020. Nobody knows what will happen next, but then again, we never actually do. Embrace the difference, give yourself permission to take your mind away from work and use this time to begin to create the future you deserve.

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