Whether at home or out and about,  don’t lose your cool Whether at home or out and about,  don’t lose your cool

The way of doing things has changed, and this requires better planning to prevent stress from taking hold of your life.

Advisor: Juan Carlos Posada
Clinical Psychologist

Rapid change over a short time. The pandemic put a stop to the lifestyle that prioritizes instant gratification and speed, forcing us to embrace a new ‘slow life’ culture, as the clinical psychologist Juan Carlos Posada defines it, in which the focus is on self-care and following biosecurity protocols. For children and adults, this ‘new normal’ has made them more patient and understanding of their new reality.

In the world of work — or home working — people feel they work more due to a multiplicity of roles: as well as keeping to meetings specific to their position, many employees have to supervise their children’s homework and cook meals. “This means that we’ve swapped the time we spend traveling in a vehicle or working alongside colleagues in the office for household chores and obligations. There is an increased perception of having more tasks, and it’s difficult to find alternative ways of spending time at home”, Posada explains. The challenge lies in the fact that our social lives, entertainment and even sport are mediated by the same computer we use for work.

As he states, according to children and young people educational performance is poorer because at school everything was regulated by a bell: there were pauses for breaks, and face-to-face study methodologies with very specific time management. Fostering a commitment to online learning is a challenge for parents and teachers, who have to turn to strategies in order to ensure it.

“Now is the time to study less in front of a screen. Emphasis should be placed on the most important and basic subjects (math, Spanish and history, among others), but it’s important for students to have other subjects to work on vocationally and exploratively, that is, for them to have elective courses like at college”, Posada proposes. In this way, students would have the opportunity to receive a creative, fun education that was not based on a routine that entails spending all day on digital platforms, thus making space for more experiential workshops.

Order and discipline

In order to manage your time better both inside and outside the house, the idea is to stick to your routine. To achieve this, it’s advisable to dedicate the eight working hours to something productive, even if you don’t have a formal job. This time can be allocated to a personal project that you’ve put on the back burner, such as starting a family business, writing a book or taking an online course that will generate extra income for you.

Nevertheless, you could follow the eight-hour rule: eight hours for work, eight for rest and eight for sleep. If so, use order and discipline to try to take active breaks, have fun, spend time with your family, make time for lunch and lie down for a nap. Ideally, don’t get used to taking one in bed, so that when you return to the office you don’t miss places that are no longer available to you!

Organizing your day and using lists to plan activities with the help of a pen and paper will generate a sense of achievement after you cross off each completed activity. Technology can be a fantastic ally: apps and virtual assistants can be of great help in creating alarms for tasks that you have to carry out by a specific time. It’s important to allow a few extra minutes when calculating time, particularly if the activities are carried out in the street, as they may take longer due to biosecurity protocols and lines.

Take full advantage of an ‘Einstein moment’, that time of the day when your concentration is at its peak and your body feels fulfilled, energetic and ready for work. Learning to identify this feeling is vital, in order to make the most of it during those daily tasks that are more complex or require more effort.

Not everything is hard work: during the day, priority should be given to those activities that don’t require as much time or effort. It’s also important to achieve small victories that will encourage the brain to press forward and keep emotions healthy. The key is to be strategic. Dividing your daily activities into responsibilities, obligations and treats can help when planning your day. Based on this, new routines can be established that will prove useful, taking into account the changes regarding teleworking, distance education, essential and occasional purchases, and visits to main street businesses. In all these cases, it’s vital to remember that self-care is a personal responsibility. 

Basic habits for general wellbeing

Mental health specialists talk of keeping up routines as a way of having as much control as possible over an uncertain environment. To that end, the following guidelines are recommended:

  • Establish a regular eating schedule, particularly for small children. Take care to eat in a different space to the one they use to study. Avoid food loaded with added sugar, such as ultra-processed products, which according to a 2017 WHO report “are of a very poor nutritional quality and are typically full of flavor, sometimes to the point of being almost addictive; they imitate natural foodstuffs and are mistakenly seen as healthy”. Examples of such foods include candy and soda.
  • Follow a daily exercise routine, ideally at the same time in order to create a healthy habit.
  • Go to bed at the same time every day and, at least one hour before, disconnect from technological devices that emit the so-called “blue light” that can disrupt sleep patterns.
  • If you wake up during the night, the best thing is to get out of bed and look for a relaxing activity. The next day, don’t sleep during the day and when night comes take a relaxing bath and dim the lights so that you can get to sleep in the normal way. Visit a specialist if insomnia becomes a frequent occurrence.