23 April 2020 Keeping spirits up during lock down For many of us, our work and home lives recently became inextricably entwined as a result of social distancing rules put in place to stop the spread of the highly infectious flu virus, covid-19. For some, however, working from home was already the norm, and they will appreciate the challenges millions of people now face; to stay home, stay healthy and stay sane. Here, we share some top tips on maintaining a work-life balance when the two worlds inescapably merge. The reassurance of routine When most parts of our life have been thrown into disarray (or simply cancelled), there’s a lot to be said for sticking to a schedule. So, while you may not need to commute, getting up at a regular hour with plenty of time for your morning routine will get your brain in gear before you start work. Set alarms for mid-morning and afternoon breaks to rest your eyes from the screen. Don’t be tempted to work through your lunch as this is precious time to relax and refuel. Finally, be extremely strict about working within your usual office hours. Work shouldn’t spill over into precious and hard-earned personal time. Get excited about ergonomics Fancy office furniture is not just a fad. The shape and height of your chair and desk make a huge difference to your posture and comfort over several hours. Sit with your legs uncrossed on a seat that allows your knees to form a right angle with your feet flat on the floor. Arrange your laptop, computer screen or reading material to sit high enough that you are not bending over or curving your neck and shoulders. Avoid working on your bed, on the floor or in any twisted pose. Shake it up and shake it off All this sitting around is going to leave you with a lot of pent up energy. Exercise is crucial for both physical and mental wellbeing during hard times. If you like to jog before or after work, stick that in your schedule as normal. If you usually cycle to work, go out for the same length bike ride in the morning or evening. Shift your gym routine to a home workout or try jogging or cycling in a local park. If possible, alternate your routes so you see new sights each day. Eat well, treat well Thankfully, food is something we are still free to enjoy and working from home gives us the chance to take our time in the kitchen. In challenging times, our favourite treats can taste even more delicious, but we also need to stay healthy. Focus on eating more fruit and vegetables, quality meat and carbohydrates (not just white bread and pasta!). Avoid stocking sugary snacks as these will only call from the cupboard when you get weary with work. Then you can treat yourself with something truly satisfying when the work day is done! Appreciate the average outdoors Sadly, the great outdoors is off limits and city dwellers and suburbanites cannot go gambolling around the countryside in their spare time. But that’s no reason to stay inside. Take a walk around the neighbourhood and see the seasonal flowers in the gardens and parks (blossom can be beautiful on a blue-sky day), listen to the birdsong and try to spot the source. We will all be ornithologists and horticulturalists before long, appreciating nature on our own doorsteps. On a final positive note, we are all finding ways to keep our spirits up during the lock down, whether that’s through cooking, reading, wandering, gardening, getting creative, or catching up with distant friends. This is an unusual situation indeed, but also a rare opportunity to take extra care of yourselves and your loved ones.