When we announced right at mid march that employees in our workplace are recommended to work from home looking at covid outbreak starting in India, it didn’t feel real or long term. Like with any change, there was a denial of the changing world and situation and we took time to come to terms with what is the ‘new normal’. Now more than two months later, even if lockdown opens tomorrow and government doesn’t extend it, how willing would you be to go on and about your normal life is an aware and educated person, wherever you are in the world? Like for a lot of us, a big part of denial for me also meant, I cancelled my upcoming holiday for April immediately and like with everyone else, had it in the back of my head to ‘save’ my holidays for later, just because I am working from home. The reality of how intense work is when you are stuck at home and the effort you need to put in to connect with others and make yourself understood hadn’t hit me yet! And because everyone else is working from home, practically tied to their devices with emails, the email loops are neverending – its like playing catch with your colleagues – but virtually from respective homes. Add to that the chores with no helpers around and educating children and keeping them busy as a primary carer and you have a perfect case of third degree, day after day.
As the covid infection situation still keeps getting worse, I was at my breaking point few days back and was having an inner fight of dragging myself from weekend to weekend and pushing the idea of a ‘leave’ at the back of my head. And what were weekends, but a time to catch up on weekly chores and spend time with the family – all very short and over in a breath. Not long or restful enough, for me anyway to be back fresh and ready on a Monday.
And thats when I humbled myself and seriously considered planning that pending holiday and exploring what a holiday stuck at home would look like in lockdown? Will it be a good idea or an utter waste of my accrued paid leave, that I might actually need if the worst happened and I caught the bug? But mental health is important too, and for that reason I started planning what my lockdown holiday might look like
My Ground Rules
I had set few rules in the beginning based on which I planned a relatively shorter break of four days:
- There will be a tech detox in these days. No office mails or messenger will be on or checked out of temptation. There will be no browsing of social media, news, netflix et al or digital video content consumption of any kind
- I started prepping my family to understand that a day off on a working day didnt mean, I owe this time to other chores. Other than helping my 5 years old with his tech setup for online class and homework completion, I didn’t assume additional work that wouldnt have been fun. Thankfully my helper was back, who take care of basic cooking and cleaning. Even chores that I picked were what my mind directed me to do – cleaning the closet, rearranging my room etc.
- I will try to be quiet, listen to my mind and body and act accordingly. If my body or mind asked for sleep, I’ll give as much as needed with no guilt. I ate mindfully – cooked, baked and wrote a lot more. Listened to my favorite soothing music, walked in the garden and read a simple happy book. And I did end up sleeping an awful lot, surprisingly
- By the end of the holiday, my mind and body felt strangely calmer. I was surprised at how much turmoil and tiredness I had without realising, and it felt cathartic to give myself that break. It was like being in calm waters after weathering a storm.
What I can tell you was that as someone who was having trouble getting up for days together well past the 9 AM mark, I could wake up refreshed early on, ready to take on the days ahead. I’d again stopped getting irritated and annoyed at my child, family and colleagues and could bring more warmth, comfort, understanding and empathy back in my communication. It refreshed me to deal with the days ahead with positivty for a while now. Until the next lockdown holiday I believe.
I can now share with you, that a working day during lockdown and a holiday during a workday/week are two extremely different experiences in the same surrondings, provided the holiday is planned well. One just needs to acknowledge the holiday, and give the attention and care to planning as you would to a holiday where you’d spent money on hotel bookings and travel tickets. Yes, everyone’s surroundings will be different and so would what holiday means to them. But the trick is in opening your mind to what you like to do unwind and chill and create that reality in your current circumstances. For some it may very well mean a movie marathon or warm baths, others might just like wine and cheese, for some it may mean putting headphones on to escape the crowded reality they live in, while for some it may very well mean video calls with family and friends and so on to counter their lonely existence from the past few months. But the three tips I can give you for a successful lockdown holiday is – unplug from what is disturbing and gives you anxiety (news and social media and work, most importantly), spend some calm time just with yourself, and pamper your body and mind with sleep and healthy food.
A lockdown holiday is not just possible, it can soothe you from the pressures that you yourself arent aware, you are dealing with. Good emotional and mental health leads to a good quality of life holistically as well. Do share your own experiences of having taken leaves during lockdown and whether it was a good idea. I’d love to know.