How long have you been enduring the ‘new normal?’ Just over five weeks ago, Governor Charlie Baker issued an emergency order requiring all non-essential businesses and organizations in Massachusetts to close their physical facilities to employees, customers and the public. One week later, Gov. Baker extended the state’s stay-at-home advisory and required all non-essential businesses to close through May 4. I have been working remotely for just over six weeks now. Fortunately, I remain healthy and employed during this time. For these important reasons, it makes it easier for me to hold onto optimism and seek out opportunities that are uniquely present to us in this extraordinary time.
Remember when working from home was the dream? Well, now it is the bittersweet truth of our coronavirus-plagued reality. While the pandemic has upended certain pieces of our lives, this just means that other fragments can now take a greater role.
If you are waiting for the gyms to open to exercise, then you may inadvertently find yourself on a long fitness hiatus. Physical fitness is important to bolster our immune systems and our mental health. We all know this, and it would behoove us to heed common wisdom. As a high energy type, my normal day typically began with my morning commute—an hour-long walk. Now that I have literally been waking up every day in the comfort of my office, I thought about getting a head start on work during these early hours. However, I decided that I should not give up this extra ‘free time’ for work, rather I should shift my focus to incorporating deliberate training into my routine. In this new normal, I make jogging, long walks, and floor exercise a part of my weekly training. I’m happy to say that I am walking and exercising more now than I was when I regularly commuted to the office.
If scrolling through your social media, browsing memes, and typing half-hearted ‘LOLs’ in messages fails to bring you joy, then, perhaps, this is the time to try a new hobby. If you are a long-time follower of my blog, you may remember that my posts were more frequently about travel…. Now, you may notice that more and more of my posts have become about baking and reading. Today, I am spending 23+ hours a day at home and taking the time to bake and listen to audiobooks. Baking is something that I have enjoyed in the past but could never really devote time to. However, now, I typically make a sweet treat one or two times a week. Because I am taking my amateurish pursuits seriously, I plan ahead for when I can indulge in this hobby. Regarding reading, I have now completed 13 audiobooks in just over six weeks and continue to challenge myself to select titles outside of my comfort zone.
Can one ever truly clock out when their body is trapped in the ‘office’? By setting hard boundaries, such as scheduling work hours and tuning out distractions while on-the-clock, one can draw a line between professional and private life. I have tried to create a balance by scheduling in light exercise (usually just a walk) after my work shifts as a symbolic transition between work and home akin to a commute.
Every cloud has a silver lining, Dear Reader. If I had known six weeks ago that I would still be working from my bed, I’m sure that I would have taken different actions in the first few weeks. Hindsight is, of course, 20/20. However, I challenge you, Dear Reader, to extrapolate and imagine that the way you are living now will persist until the end of summer. If you know that the situation as it stands will continue for a few more months, what will you do differently? Would you sign up for that yoga course, college class, or social group? Would you still answer the client phone calls during your dinner hour? Would you consider popping that Jane Fonda tape into the VCR? (who still has a VCR??) We cannot control the world outside of our bodies; however, our happiness is securely in our grasps.
Your health is your first priority and I hope you will take all steps necessary to keep yourself, your loved ones, and your community safe. I also hope, Dear Reader, that you will take some time to reflect and pursue the things that will bring you joy and comfort during uncertain times.