Photo by Timothy Eberly on Unsplash
Remember the days when you dreamt of being able to work remotely?
No more morning commute, setting your schedule, taking walks and exercising when you wanted... it all seemed like the dream set-up. Then COVID hit and the dream became a reality.
The joy of working from home hasn't worked out quite as any of us expected.
Working from home has apparently led to a 13% increase in productivity, partly from being less distracted and more focused.
However, most of that increase in productivity comes from working more minutes. The payoff may be fewer breaks, shorter lunch periods and staring at Zoom for longer than is healthy.
You end up with that feeling of always being "on" and a lack of separation between home life and work. Those longer hours also mean more screen time than ever.
This all adds up to stress, anxiety and, ultimately, serious implications for your physical and mental health and wellbeing.
When you don't allow yourself the space and time you need to switch off, your body and mind pay the price.
It's sometimes difficult to see ourselves as part of nature because we often live insulated from it. Yet, we are still human. We are still part of the ecosystem. And we still go through the same cycles and changes as any other part of the natural world.
Nature survives and thrives because it works in cycles. Natural systems don't break down (unless humans interfere heavily) because they provide for periods of renewal and growth.
When you align with these cycles, you thrive. When you try to fight against these natural cycles, you end up with an imbalance.
The best example nature gives us of this in action is the seasonal cycle.
Winter is the season when nothing appears to happen. It's cold, dark, and nothing seems to grow. But this is a necessary pause in the natural cycle. Energy and nutrients are conserved, growth slows and proteins are broken down and re-made before the forthcoming period of growth. This essential period of rest and recovery is followed by a flowering and blossoming of new life in spring.
Spring is a time of birth and new life as the days get longer and temperatures rise. This is our period of hard work and sowing the seeds.
Then Summer comes with its longer days and heat. Most of the planting is over, but there is still plenty to do including watering and feeding 'crops' and making sure everything and everyone stays cool.
Autumn welcomes the falling of the leaves and the time when we start to reap what we sow and harvest the benefit. Nature slows down again as it enters winter and the cycle starts over.
Looked at as a cycle, it's clear to see that winter is a necessary pause. It is as important as spring for growth and renewal.
Nature has a balance. As divorced from nature as we may seem, our bodies - and our lives - are the same.
If you have periods of intense activity, you need to follow these with periods of rest and recovery. Only when you recharge can you again grow.
The current pressure of remote working brings this out. When you don't live according to this cycle, the result is overwhelm, burnout and stress.
So how do you know if you're living in balance? Look at your schedule.
Do you have a healthy blend of periods of work during the day with periods of rest and renewal? Or are you working long and hard without any breaks from the screen or time away from your desk?
If remote working leaves you feeling stressed and anxious, here are a few suggestions:
1. Don't fight against where you are in the cycle
If you're going through a period of rest and recovery, don't fight it. Stress and worry are caused when you are not aligning with what is best for you. There is a time to chill out and be comfortable doing nothing, just as much as there is a time to work hard and burn the candle at both ends. Neither is wrong or right; you need balance.
2. Connect with nature
Take the time to connect with nature through walks or spending time with others outside. Being in nature gives you the time and space to breathe, think and slow right down. It gives you perspective.
3. Create space
Take time away from the screen for specific periods during your day. Book them into your diary, like you'd book a work appointment.
Organisations benefit when leaders understand how natural cycles affect their team's health and wellbeing.
Getting back to nature can alleviate stress, anxiety and disharmony from remote working and create a more sustainable footing for long-term working.
Ready to make the change? Enquire about a session for your team here.
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Author & Curator
Nigel Berman is the founder of School of the Wild.