With September in full swing and kids settled back into school life post-summer holidays, the return to some semblance of normality is inevitable. And after 18 months of working from home, more and more employers are now encouraging their staff to pack away their make-shift desks and head back into the office. Transitioning back to office life after so many months at home may prove a challenge for many, so it’s important to ensure that with the return to routine, comes balance.
For many, the thought of re-adjusting to a regular commute, on-the-go coffees, rushed lunch breaks, and hours sat in front of a screen and in meetings will be daunting. Here, Holly Issacs, lead trainer at Surge Fitness, shares her guide to easing yourself back into a routine, prioritising self-care, and ensuring balance to protect your wellbeing.
Holly says: “Getting back into a routine, whether it’s after returning from a week-long holiday or enjoying time off from school runs and extracurricular activities is never easy. Adjusting to a new schedule following the huge lifestyle changes brought on by the pandemic will likely be even harder.
“Finding ways to make life easier for yourself as you adjust will help your new routine feel less stressful and a whole lot more balanced. From scheduling screen breaks and being conscious of posture and breathing, to carving out time for a quick workout, there are so many small but impactful ways to make the transition all the more manageable.”
Read on for Holly’s tips on easing back into your new routine:
It sounds simple but making your routine work for you means planning ahead. Whether that’s making a healthy, homemade lunch the night before a day in the office or booking in that workout class ahead of time, by being organised and getting things in the diary, you are more likely to feel at ease with your new routine and avoid making unhealthy or last-minute decisions. Being consistent with your plans will help to make your new routine stick – making life easier in the long run. Be sure to make use of your phone’s calendar app to help.
Don’t sit still
In the office there can be a tendency to sit at your desk all day long, and with the average adult in the UK sitting for around nine hours a day as it is, office life is doing us no favours. To remind yourself to get those steps in, set a timer on your phone to alert you to get moving. Whether it’s a stroll around the office, or a walk around the block, regularly getting up from your desk at least once an hour is a great way to clear your head and get your body moving. Not to mention the perfect opportunity to take a screen break.
Get a workout in
Scheduling daily exercise is something we’ve all been encouraged to do over the last year and a half and things slowly getting back to ‘normal’ doesn’t have to mean our fitness levels drop. Keeping active is paramount to continued overall health and wellbeing.
For those who are time-poor but still want to get a workout in, incorporate exercise into your commute or lunch break. Run or cycle to or from the office, find a gym that’s close to work, or join local lunchtime classes. For a full-body workout that takes only 20 minutes, it’s worth considering EMS (Electrical Muscle Stimulation) training. With only one weekly session required to reach your fitness goals, this is the most efficient workout there is – ideal for those with a hectic new schedule to juggle. Leading EMS fitness brand Surge has three studios in the Capital and you don’t even have to think about packing a gym bag; from gym wear, to water bottles and towels, everything you need for your workout is provided.
Stay hydrated all day
Hydration is key in helping the body to function properly. With a busier lifestyle, longer commute and a new environment, it’s easy to forget about water intake. Even mild dehydration can cause symptoms such as headache, weakness, dizziness and fatigue, which could all impact how you perform at work and in general daily life. Keep a large bottle of chilled water in your bag or on your desk at all times and try to get in at least two litres of water a day for optimal hydration – more if you do a workout.
Remember to breath
If you find yourself becoming overwhelmed or stressed at work, take a moment to sit back, sit tall, drop your shoulders, close your eyes, and breathe. Focusing on your breathing – a series of long, deep breaths in and out – will instantly help you find calm. Sometimes when we’re stressed or busy we can ‘forget’ to breath properly. Better oxygenation of the mind and body through regular mindful breathing exercises can have a whole host of physical and emotional benefits, including lower heart rate, reduced stress levels and improved energy and productivity.
Learn to switch off
Literally! Shut down that laptop and leave it at the office. Working from home has given us all the tendency to answer emails late into the night, with our laptops and work phones constantly within reach. While you might think you’re being productive and getting ahead of the game, you’re actually carving into your own down time and merging work into the personal. A benefit of being back in the office means you can finally leave your work at your desk. By being disciplined with your hours, your time in the office will be more productive, and your time at home more relaxing!
Prioritise quality sleep
Quality sleep is key to achieving good mental and physical health and can have a huge impact on concentration, productivity, communication, mood, and relationships, so it’s important to ensure you’re getting 7-8 hours every night to ensure you’re ready to face a day at the office.
Work out a wind down routine that suits you – bath, book, meditation – limit caffeine, alcohol and rich foods, ensure the room is dark, the temperature is comfortable (around 18 degrees is the optimum), and avoid devices altogether in the bedroom as the blue light mimics daylight and can disrupt our natural circadian rhythm, making it harder to drop off.
Go easy on yourself
Making big adjustments to your routine is no easy feat, and it may take a little while to get back into the swing of things. Go easy on yourself while adjusting and remember to also do the things that make you feel good – whether that’s catching up with friends and family, getting a massage, or simply reading a good book!