4 Ways to Keep Your Mind Sharp While Furloughed
By Shakira Washington
A week into quarantine, my job furloughed me. Like millions of Americans, I was left wondering – what now? You are probably concerned about how you are going to fill your days since you are no longer working from home. There are family and household obligations, of course, but it is vital to keep the mind and body active, so you don’t become too unfamiliar with life on the outside.
The first inclination was probably to use this time for professional development. All over social media, there is pressure to update your resume, start networking, start a side hustle, or reach out to recruiters. And these are all productive ways to use this time, but it is important to realize that everyone in your field is probably in the same position, and they deserve some time to process these changes as well. If you’re looking for ways to reflect, refocus, and reset, please try these four tips below.
1. Take Time to Rest
Perhaps, the most important thing to focus on once furloughed is to take some time to rest. In this technology-based globalized economy, finding work-life balance is difficult. You may struggle to turn off from the job when you leave the office. This quarantine forces you to take a step back and look at what’s important—the health and safety of yourself, family, and friends.
At the beginning of the quarantine, there were countless warnings to maintain the same routine while at home. However, you may have discovered that it was easier said than done. In a “normal” routine, your days are very structure, so rest is built into the schedule. However, during the quarantine, you can be more organic with your daily structure and let the day take its course.
Somedays, you may not feel like doing anything, and please try not to get upset about it. If you are a go-getter and usually pop out of bed, ready to tackle the day, you may find that you need some extra time to rest. So, don’t beat yourself up if the only thing you feel like doing is moving from the bed to the couch.
2. Move your Body
At the beginning of sheltering in place, your body was probably aching from the lack of movement. Being thrown off out of your daily routine can take its toll on the body. Especially with the current pandemic, we are all carrying around extra stress. You don’t have to exercise for the sake of keeping fit, but to allow the mind to rest and the body to be in motion.
Whether it is taking a walk through your neighborhood, doing a home workout, or playing with your children or pets, allow some time to turn down the volume in your mind, and just be active. There are plenty of online yoga or cardio classes that you can do at a set time throughout the week or as your schedule allows. While exercising, you can focus on the task at hand and just remind yourself to breathe!
Everyone is feeling lots of emotions, from stress to anxiety and uncertainty, so having a consistent activity can lend some normalcy to the week. It can also give you something to look forward too or dread, depending on what exercise outlet you choose! Whether it is yoga, ballet, or something more intense like HIIT cardio, find an avenue to get your body moving. It also is good for the mind and spirit.
3. Read a Book or Start Journaling
We tend to look at screens all day – it doesn’t matter if it is a laptop, TV or smartphone. Take time away from binge-watching your favorite show, or tumbling down the rabbit hole of social media and pick up a book or magazine and not look at a screen for a while.
Explore reading different subjects from escapist fiction, classic novels, poignant memoirs, or historical books. You can also use this time to learn more about your industry, profession, or interested field and read up on how they are adjusting their business models during this pandemic.
Also, if you’re feeling overwhelmed, try journaling and writing down your thoughts. Not only is this a productive way of processing your feelings, but you can also look back a year from now and have documentation of this particular time in history.
4. Find a Creative Outlet
In these times of uncertainty, having a creative outlet is a great way to destress. It doesn’t matter if you are an expert artist or a novice. Creative expressions use a different part of the brain and can be a source of relaxation and calmness.
There are online dance classes available, as well as virtual artistic events. If you cannot afford the drop-in class or event prices, then perhaps explore online tutorials on your favorite artistic medium that you would like to explore. Don’t worry about having the perfect supplies; just a pencil and paper is a great start.
Even if your profession allows you to work in an artistic capacity every day, it is still essential to have a hobby outside of your career that invokes creativity. There are many ways to express your creativity, from sketching, sewing, writing music, singing, or dancing; the possibilities are limitless. Maybe you had a creative passion that just needed time to blossom, or perhaps, there is something you always wanted to try but never had the time or patience. Take advantage of some of your free time and explore new artistic options.
However, you choose to spend this time, or no matter the circumstances you are currently experiencing, it is important to remember that you are not alone. Many of us are struggling to accept this current situation and doing our best to cope. While the world is rapidly changing around us, we can take this time as furloughed workers to unwind, explore, and hope for the best.
My name is Shakira Washington and I am a beginner Freelance Writer looking for opportunities to expand my portfolio. My background is in Fashion, specifically Technical Design, which is the fit and construction of the garments. My interests include practicing yoga, watching documentaries, listening to True Crime podcasts, and reading Romance novels.