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How to be less tired in lockdown

Alexandra Keates, one of Tin Man’s mental health workplace champions and part of the Hearts & Minds team, shares advice for truly switching off, relaxing and keeping a positive mindset.

The last (nearly) 12 months have seen plans cancelled, holidays postponed, memories of the daily commute fade away and our sofas become the mainstay of our daily routines.

A concoction that, whilst on paper sounds boring, also sounds restful, no? Wrong. In fact, google searches for ‘Why do I feel tired all the time’ reached their peak in November 2020.

The fact that I used to wake up at 6am, put on a full face of makeup, commute for an hour, spend 8 or more hours in an office, followed by a gym session, dinner with friends, then travel another hour home, do my evening skincare routine and slink back into bed at around 11pm seems laughable, and sometimes even implausible, but mostly just exhausting.

However, with the beauty of having some more time on my hands recently (thanks to lockdown 3.0) I was determined to beat the feelings of grogginess I’d been going through and focus on the importance of making rest, truly restful.

Yes, with the announcement of a roadmap, longer days and a bit of sunshine, everyone is feeling a little bit more positive, but when life does go back to normal, it’s important we remember some of the lessons learnt from this period of ‘rest’…

1. Practice mindfulness and mindlessness in equal balance – life is all about balance and the same is true with relaxation. Some days focussing on a guided meditation (or my favourite new 10-minute breathing exercise) is bliss, but other days even that seems like too much effort, and curling up on the sofa absorbing repeats of ‘Say Yes to the Dress’ is equally as meditative. It’s all about having the ‘rest’ you want.

2. Read proper books – I don’t mean Dickens or Bronte, although there are some great stories in there, but switching away from Apple Books on my iPad to actual paperbacks, to give my screen time a limit. Even at home, blocking out ‘commuter’ times in the evening, has helped to book end my day and define worktime from me-time, particularly helpful when most of it pans out across the same couple of rooms and screens.

3. Confidently know I’ll still cancel plans – I read a tweet the other day that said, “Knowing me, after all this, I’ll probably just want a quiet night in” and knowing me, I probably will. Don’t get me wrong, the idea of possibly being able to fill up my calendar again this summer is a treat, but I’m also confident in the fact that in a post-lockdown world I will still choose to spend some evenings and weekends on my sofa – and that’s great. If your body is crying out for a period of time doing nothing, then it probably needs it!

4. Go to the beach – Ok, so actual beaches are still off the cards for a few months, but if you’ve missed your ocean fix, here’s a secret of mine; you can still go to the beach here or here. There’s no denying that it’s not a good as the real one and nothing beats sand between your toes and the lingering smell of the salty sea air. But on stressful days tuning into this has been a real life saver.

5. Take meetings in your stride – This year at Tin Man the Hearts & Minds team encouraged everyone to take walking meetings where possible – and I’m really glad they did. Dialling into team catch ups and your daily Vitamin D dose at the same time can actually make the world of difference when you’re feeling cooped up, and can help you feel more energised during the day.

6. Use Annual Leave wisely – In the last 12 months, holidays went from Patatas Bravas in Palma to 99p Flakes in the Park in South London. Although I’ve already started daydreaming about where I might travel to next when it’s safe to do so, I’ve also realised that taking a couple of days off work with no plans, where you can spend days napping, reading and enjoying long walks, can leave you feeling more refreshed than the usual post-holiday jet lag. So, going forwards, to give myself a real break from work, there might be a few more annual leave days booked to spend in the park in South London – that’s where the Ice Cream van is after all!

Article written by Leanne Bertolone, Associate Director, Tin Man Comunications

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