For me, the pandemic came with a terrible side effect: sitting! I’m not sure who coined the expression “sitting is the new smoking,” but I can certainly relate to it. Shortly after the first lockdown my lower back started to hurt as a result of working from home. All this sitting, having nowhere to go, gyms being closed, and using non-ideal chairs for extended periods of time took its toll on me pretty quickly.
At first I tried to ignore the pain, but that obviously didn’t help. When it got worse, I started to see an osteopath from time to time, then regularly, then very frequently. And when that didn’t help, I saw a doctor, got an MRI, and ended up doing physiotherapy. This is where Microsteps come in!
In the beginning, I started with five minutes of exercise for my back every morning. I learned some physiotherapy exercises that would keep my back strong and supported, even while working from a desk throughout the pandemic. Over time I added more exercises, many of them quite different, to build up my back strengthening routine. Slowly, slowly, my movement routine expanded.
Six months later, I am doing 35 minutes of yoga every morning while listening to world news. And although my back is almost fully back to normal again, I continue to do these exercises religiously — not only because I am not inclined to give these back aches a chance to come back, but also because I started to love this “me and world news time” in the morning before the day starts. It allows me to center myself for the day ahead, and to know that no matter what else happens, I took the time to take care of my body. I still keep on adding additional moves, so it’s very possible that in another six months from now, it’ll be a joyful hour I look forward to every morning!
Another result of the pandemic has been rethinking the way I connect with my colleagues at work. I’ve been setting up very short, but regular, connects to stay in touch. I find that about 20 minutes every other week is enough to remain in touch, even working remotely. It’s important to find new ways of communicating, and staying up to date with one another helps to restore that sense of camaraderie that many of us have lost while working from home. For example, a good laugh with a colleague — no matter how tough, stressful, or complex the situation in the world may be — never fails to bring me joy.
I know that many people are struggling with burnout lately, and one thing that works for me is to listen to my body. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, make sure you set your limits (as no one else will do it for you). And always put water on your desk — when you have water next to you, you drink automatically. And frankly, a piece of chocolate or some cookies at around 4 p.m. might be all you need to make it through the rest of your day.