My mum is good at telling it like it is, especially when it comes to how I practice daily wellbeing.
One particular nugget of wisdom she shared with me a few years back was that I shouldn’t be watching TV shows or movies on my laptop, doing homework or study, or – in some cases – reading, when in my bedroom. Your room is your personal sanctuary, she said; the place where you go to completely unwind, relax and recharge your batteries.
In short: your bedroom is for sleep and sex only (thanks for the advice, Mum).
Why? Because we need to ensure physical (and therefore emotional) separation between the daily grind and our downtime. Overlap between the two increases the chance we will not be able to tell when we can kick back which, in my experience, has made falling asleep much harder at times.
It can sometimes be difficult to find a quiet place to do your work, just as finding a sanctuary for that Netflix binge can be trying. The bedroom seems, at face value, to tick those boxes. But taking it elsewhere will ultimately be to your benefit – and I don’t just mean getting out of your room.
When I work from home, I often find it hard to eat my dinner at the same table I was working at all day. It gives me a sense I haven’t actually left the office or, in other instances, I don’t feel I need to work too hard because I am sitting where I would usually stuff my face with something indulgent.
Similarly, I find it difficult to turn my brain off and go to sleep if I spend an hour or more catching up on my favourite Netflix shows. The research around detrimental effects of using screens right before bed is, of course, well established at this point.
Finding the right environment for your activities is paramount. I discovered the value of doing work in cafes a while back, which means when I do make it back home, I know that it’s time for me to switch off. I also now only watch things in the living room, which has really improved my ability to fall asleep in recent months.
Your mobile phone should be far away from your bed or bedside table, too. If it’s across the room, you’re much less likely to want to pick it up and scroll needlessly through the Facebook newsfeed while waiting to fall asleep (it’s comfy underneath those covers).
(NB I do sometimes read books in bed as reading novels is something that helps me wind down, and doesn’t strain my eyes in the same way a screen would. Of course, it is ultimately about what works best for you.)
Parameters are imperative. Forcing yourself to recognise what is the place and when is the time for work versus leisure helps us monitor our efforts to achieve optimal wellbeing levels.
Separate and schedule your daily activities to happen in suitable locations. Such physical distinction will better help you distinguish, emotionally and psychologically, what you’re up to. My wellbeing is much better for it.