We commonly hear that a habit can be formed in three weeks. However, that is a myth! According to Healthline, in order to get used to new behaviour, it takes roughly 18 to 254 days, but the duration boils down to the type of habit. As we work or study at home, it is perfectly fine to struggle with balancing your work and rest. Not everyone is able to adapt and change their lifestyles as this pandemic can be a traumatic experience. The new normal is mentally taxing as it affects our daily lives while we attend our online classes and work from home, hence it is important to keep ourselves in check without feeling like a burden.
Try keeping a journal. Remember when we were in primary school, we loved to write down our daily tasks and homework in a book? Let’s bring that back! By writing down your tasks, it can guide you throughout the day. According to the University of Rochester Medical Center, journaling helps you to organise your thoughts and problems. While you embark on your journaling journey, take this opportunity to use that notebook you have been keeping for years and use those stickers you have been saving. You can express yourself however you want as it is your safe space. Before the day starts, take five minutes to write down tasks you want to complete. At the end of the day, if you have completed some of them, give yourself a pat on the back; if you have not, it is still completely fine!
Take breaks: food breaks, water breaks, toilet breaks, any breaks! I know it is tempting to cram that assignment on a weekend or finish your work in one day when you have the whole week for it. Giving your brain a rest can give you enough energy to continue further physically. Set an alarm to help you not lose track of time. You can take a trip to the kitchen, shake out your limbs or even do some jumping jacks. Getting your blood flowing through your body can really make you feel better. In a Harvard Business Review article, a manager at an accounting firm explained, “I really became a robot,”. He mentioned that it was similar to getting brainwashed; while he convinced himself that he would take a break, the break never really happened. It is scary how you can be unable to escape this toxic relationship with yourself and yet still be unconscious of it. As you step out of that bubble, slowly but surely, you will definitely recover.
Rewards! Who doesn’t love rewards? Rewarding yourself increases serotonin levels. By allowing oneself to enjoy or indulge in something, it can boost one’s mental health drastically. It is not wrong to treat yourself after a long day or a stressful week. According to MindTools, by celebrating your achievements, you will be more motivated and confident in yourself, which allows you to go further, have better performance and productivity. Don’t forget, an achievement is still worth celebrating no matter how big or small! When you finish your assignment with little energy left or finally completed your report after many complaints, give yourself a pat on the back. Allow yourself to enjoy a well-deserved reward and do something that makes you happy. Buy yourself that cup of boba you have been thinking of getting this whole week; clear your shopping cart in the next sale. Because, if you’re not going to treat yourself, who will?
Have you heard about the Pomodoro Technique? It is a time management practice by doing work for 25 minutes, then taking a short break of 3-5 minutes. Continue for another 25 minutes, and repeat this four times, then take a longer break of 15 to 30 minutes. “I felt less stressed, blurry-eyed, and cramped up,” said Kat Boogaard. In her shared experience on The Muse, she tested out this technique and it worked well for her. As you try to balance work and rest, you should experiment with various methods to see what works best for you. You will definitely stumble around, taking some time to decide what is suitable and what is not. It is completely fine! Everyone moves at their own pace and it is not easy to find the right technique which suits you. Take your time and explore. It is never too late to try!
Stop! Are you pushing yourself too hard? Overworking because you have guilt-tripped yourself is a common habit we do not realise we have. While we are so focused and engrossed in our work, we do not catch ourselves from going too far, not knowing when to stop. It can be a struggle to break out of this unconscious habit. However, not everyone can change their habits immediately and it varies from person to person. It is okay to not turn over a new leaf in a week. Make sure you take breaks to keep yourself mentally and physically strong, not because you feel lazy or are looking for excuses. We have always heard that perseverance is the key to success, however you need to see the situation you are in and make the best judgement for yourself. Now that you have the knowledge on making sure when to take a break, learn to break loose from your bad habits.
As you slowly adapt to these healthy habits, you will start to see changes in your life. Learning to stay productive healthily can be beneficial for both the body and mind, which is why you should practice it. Whenever you come across troubles, seek support and help. It can be from your parents, friends, classmates, roommates, anyone. You are not alone in these trying times, and there are many others like you too. While you take on new habits, it can also mature your mindset and aid your personal growth. Things will get better, and you can definitely improve in keeping yourself in check!
By Lydia Chan Li En