I’d meant to post on long afternoon walks a couple of weeks ago, but then it got so snowy and cold. And then Ollie didn’t feel well. So it didn’t seem right. Yesterday afternoon, though, while a bit gray, was finally warm. What a perfect day to take back up my favorite pandemic self-care activity to restore my focus and promote work-life balance.
There’s a little freebie for you if you want to take up long afternoon walks.
I wish I lived in a siesta culture
If you have ever worked with me, you’ve probably heard me lament that I don’t live in a siesta culture. I am, in a word, useless after lunch until later in the afternoon.
I’ve tried more coffee (doesn’t work, and keeps me up at night). I’ve tried powering through (yeah … no). Loud music in my headphones. Nope.
Lurching about like a zombie
What made matters worse is that I often spend all morning in meetings (I work with a lot of people in the UK and Europe). My best time for focused work is early in the day, and so I had a double-whammy of using my best work time for talking, and trying to use my worst time to focus.
In the Before Times, I lurched around the office like a zombie until I could convince my work bestie to go “get rich” (aka, buy scratch tickets at the slightly stinky convenience store—she won ten grand once) and then walk around the block. That helped some, and we would have a lovely chat, but it also didn’t really do the trick. Once back in the office, I’d still have a hard time focusing until later in the afternoon.
It took a pandemic to discover that all it took was a long afternoon walk
It took a pandemic for me to find something that works. After lunch, I would take Ollie out for a short walk, which helped about as much as buying a scratch ticket. Some, but not enough. One sunny afternoon, though, on a day when I didn’t need a coat, I just didn’t feel like heading back at the usual time.
So I didn’t.
Ollie and I kept walking, and had a lovely time, finding a new spot along Lake Winnisquam (I was at my parents’ house in New Hampshire). All told, we were gone for about an hour. At some point on the walk, my afternoon fog cleared, and I felt human again.
When we returned, I head back upstairs to finish up the afternoon’s work. To my utter surprise, I could focus, and I got more done that afternoon than, well … any other afternoon I’d ever worked.
Spied on afternoon walks
A good, old-fashioned constitutional: Restores the work-life balance
I tried it the next day, and, it worked again. I decided that an afternoon constitutional should become a thing. My manager did not object when I talked to her about it, and so they became a bright spot in a troubled year. On my walks, I not only get exercise, but I shake off the sleepies. I often get some good snaps (though, it isn’t the best time of day to take photos). It’s one of the best work-life balance tricks I have.
Of course, my lunch walks do not always work with my schedule. I have a hectic meeting schedule, and oftentimes they spill over into the afternoon. And, then, winter. Ollie’s a Southern boy and hates his coat, and, while I am a native New Englander, I have never taken to winter. Our walks slacked off a bit this past month.
Yesterday: a glorious day to resume long afternoon walks
Tuesday, though, was a day that New Englanders like me wait for, long for. While winter has by no means ended, today the cold abated.
And so we walked. We walked over to the Radcliffe Quad and then to Cambridge Common and through Harvard’s campus. Children ran about in playgrounds, shrieking. Melting snow, slushy muddy ground, smelled of the delicious promise of spring when I surreptitiously pulled down my mask a couple of times to take a whiff.
I returned, restored. And my constitutional lived up to its promise. I could focus on my work, and I had a productive afternoon. Back to it.
Give it a try? There’s a freebie in it for you!
What about you? What works for you with restoring your energy when it flags? Let me know in the comments.
Interested in trying this out?
I made a little Instagram story template for you to describe what you see on your walks. If you’re a subscriber, you can get it here.
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