Hello everyone! Sorry it’s been a while since my last Takeaway. With the easing of Lockdown, I’ve ended up back at work full time recently. This has obviously meant that I’ve had a lot less free time, but also that I’ve spent that precious free time being fatigued. This has been due to the general stresses of work life, not being able to do all the things I’ve enjoyed whilst on furlough and anxiety about society opening up despite the ever present danger the pandemic still poses.
I’ve recently been inspired to produce a new Takeaway for y’all by this need I’ve had to look after myself during this uneasy period of transition back into work life, a need I’m sure many others are familiar with right now. I’ve also been inspired by a game I’ve really enjoyed playing during Lockdown that has allowed me to share many good times with friends despite not being able to see them in person: Red Dead Redemption 2.
One of the features of the game is looking after your characters’ cores by fulfilling essential needs, such as food, rest and hygiene. These cores are represented in the bottom left of the above screen, with the heart representing health, the lightning bolt representing stamina and the eye representing focus. If you look after yourself and keep these cores high, you’ll be on top of your game and able to weather any challenges put in your way, but if these cores deplete, you may struggle to do even the simplest task and be more fragile and easily knocked down in the trials ahead.
For this Takeaway, there’s 3 things you need to do:
1) Identify your cores.
In particular, I’d like you to think about what cores are depleted and in need of some attention. Perhaps like me, you suddenly find you have less time on your hands meaning that things you’ve been enjoying on a regular basis now don’t seem to have a time and a place in your daily schedule and you feel their absence. The more specific you can be about this, the better.
I’ll give you a few personal examples:
Physical exercise – not having the time to go hiking regularly and my desire to collapse on my sofa when I’m finished with work has definitely had an impact on my physical health.
Creativity – I’ve enjoyed numerous creative projects during Lockdown, but lately it’s been harder to get those creative juices flowing.
Socializing – Bizarly, I’ve been more sociable during Lockdown as myself and my friends have had a lot more time and energy for meetups (albeit virtual ones). Being back at work has reduced the time for virtual or socially distant meetups as well as the motivation to do so when it’s been a long day.
Relaxation – Pastimes I found quite relaxing and enjoyable, such as gaming, reading and writing have sometimes become quite stressful after a finishing the working day.
2) Identify what activities replenish those cores.
Make sure you list a few to make sure you always have options. I’ll give a few examples again.
Physical exercise – Whilst full day hikes are a rarer occurrence now, there’s lots of short walks I can do during lunch breaks or after work thanks to the long evenings we have this time of year. There’s also a whole host of yoga and work out videos online featuring classes that can be as short as 5 minutes or longer than an hour if you have the time!
Creativity – It’s nice to work on something that other people can enjoy, like this cheap and cheerful blog post (hopefully), but sometimes doing something creative just for the sake of it can be very satisfying. I’ve taken to writing short stories that I don’t believe would be of any value to anyone but me, but being able to access that creative state of flow every now and again has been very satisfying!
Socializing – The odd message here and there as well as a regularly scheduled skype chat with my family has meant that I’ve not turned into a complete hermit outside of work!
Relaxing – Whilst I’m not always in the mood for some of my old favourites, I’ve identified a few pastimes that are more purely aimed at relaxation, such as meditation, colouring and ambient games such as Animal Crossing.
3) Finally, keep track of those cores.
There’s no icon at the bottom of your screen to tell you if you’re running out. Rather than waiting until you feel burnt out before realising you need to refill your cores, keep track of them yourself using a journal. You don’t have to do anything too technical, just write out the cores, the activities that replenish those cores and make a note of days when you do things to fill those cores. You can use this to gently keep track of whether you’re filling those cores on a day by day basis.
This isn’t about forcing yourself to do thing you don’t want to, rather just noticing when you are doing something good for your cores and when you aren’t. This information can help you if you’re trying to figure out what you can do for yourself when you have the time. For example, if you’ve noticed you’ve gone three days without doing anything deliberately relaxing, that could be why you’re feeling a bit cranky now! Why don’t you take a moment to run yourself a nice warm bath and listen to some relaxing music?
And there you have it! I hope this Takeaway is useful for anyone wanting to reprioritise self-care in their lives! I hope to produce more Tall Hobbit Takeaways for y’all soon, but that’ll all depend on how well I look after my cores!
Let me know in the comments what you do to replenish your cores, it might just spark some ideas for other readers too!