Is work the only thing giving you a sense of routine and purpose during the pandemic? One writer explains why this is the very reason she sometimes dreads the weekends.
Article updated by the writer on 9 May to reflect the long bank holiday weekend
Another bank holiday weekend is here and the weather in London is glorious. It’s quite deceptive, really. How can a pandemic currently be causing so much pain and misery when nature is giving us the best springtime weather we’ve had in years?
It’s the time of year when I’d usually optimistically, send “BBQ?!?!” WhatsApp messages – despite the Great British breeze in the air. I’d be sat in the office daydreaming of grilled halloumi, veggie burgers and fruity ciders. Colleagues would be excitedly chatting about their own plans, with the radio pumping out tunes that scream that Friday feeling. Ah yes, I remember it well.
But the truth is, I’ve dreaded the weekend a few times during lockdown.
I’m spending lockdown on my own in my London flat and work has been pretty much the only thing keeping me sane. I’m lucky enough to have a roof over my head, to have a decent internet connection (touch wood), to be able to get on my with digital-based job. It’s pretty much “work as usual” and it’s giving me the only sense of purpose and routine that I’ve been desperately craving during this uncertain and unsettling time.
Of course, work still has its ups and downs – and I actually hit a brick wall with it the other week. But I do like having deadlines when time has generally just become one long slog. It’s nice to be able to engage with people. And it’s often a relief to hear and read colleagues’ ideas on what’s happening out there, coronavirus-related or not.
I can’t believe I’m saying this but my job has been the only thing truly keeping me company during the day. So when it comes to the weekends, there’s a big chunk of time that I need to occupy.
Even though I’ve always been a bit addicted to work (I’m such a Capricorn), I know how important it is to switch off, relax and recharge. But that’s hard to do when your weekend space is also your new office, and you have to stay in it for 23 hours every day.
During lockdown, I cancelled plans to go on two-metres-apart-from-each-other-at-all-times bike rides with a friend because it’s just not worth the risk and it’s not allowed. I’ve found it hard to settle into reading a book because my mind quickly drifts to CORONAVIRUS. I don’t bake cakes anymore because I have little more to do than eat the whole damn thing in one sitting straight after. And I give up on exercise some days because, honestly, I sometimes find it hard to muster up any energy. Any hope of finally writing that book has been ruled out, too.
Of course, there are also some weekend highlights that I feel very grateful for. I regularly chat to my friends and family over Houseparty and FaceTime, which honestly makes my smile stretch from ear-to-ear each time. I sing musical hits at the top of my voice while giving my flat a good tidy. And when that sunshine hits my face during my daily outings, I am positively high on vitamin D.
But I sometimes just feel so… aimless.
And I don’t think it’s just because I’m alone at the moment. After chatting with a friend, who is living with her housemate, she told me she felt like she was going nuts for the exact same reasons. So, for this weekend, she’s going to set a schedule for things to do, and things to look forward to and get through (including cleaning her windows).
This, I thought, was a really simple but great idea. I just need to make sure I find the motivation to stick to my plans.
I asked Cate Murden, founder of wellbeing and performance company PUSH, for some advice on doing this. These are the points she shared for Stylist readers:
- Do make a plan: so you have some structure and can feel like you’ve achieved something.
- Get outside and do your exercise: changing your scene and having that sense of accomplishment is crucial.
- Change your view: see it as a time for being curious and doing all the stuff you’ve wanted to do for so long but never have time for.
- Brainstorm with friends: it’s great to get inspiration from others.
- Stay off social media: it really wont help or let your brain properly rest. Scrolling isn’t resting – this is your moment to properly look after yourself and come back with renewed energy and focus once this is all over.
Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely do not mind social distancing for however long it takes to tackle coronavirus. But once this is finally over, I look forward to counting down the hours to the weekend with more of an instinctive sense of purpose (and plenty of excitement).