Home and work, the biggest parts of our lives, are amalgamated during the pandemic. With boundaries between the two gone, our lives are pushed outside balance and we suffer from high workload, increased stress, sleep deprivation, burnout, and a series of other problems. Reestablishing this boundary is difficult but important in order to bring our lives back to balance.
In “normal” conditions, when we go to work we have, what Japanese monk Shunmyo Masuno calls gates. When we leave for work in the morning, our first gate is the boundary of our home. When we get on a bus or bike, that’s the second gate. Coming to the office is the third one. The same gates are there when we go back from work. They help us decompress and leave the work behind.
But when there are no physical boundaries between work and home, we can create them in our minds.
I struggled at the beginning of the pandemic as everyone else, but then I quickly established my gates, and my stress and anxiety levels went down significantly. My first gate is when I close my laptop and sit quietly, meditate for several minutes to let my mind decompress. Then I change clothes and go for a short walk with my partner, regardless of weather conditions. That’s the second gate. When I get back home, I pass my third gate and spend the rest of the day with kids, playing my guitar, or doing chores. Gates change over time, and that’s fine – as long as I deliberately maintain them through various activities.
Try establishing the three gates, both in the morning and after work. It might help you to bring back the balance in your life.
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