For most of us, daily routines and our physical environment haven’t changed much recently, and this lack of variety can be stressful. Not only do our brains need novelty and stimulation to learn and grow, but longing for such a life can create a sense of loss and invite anxious feelings in. Even before the pandemic, lack of variety was very apparent — nearly half of our daily behaviours used to happen at the same time and place. But, for many of us, life has become worryingly close to that experienced by Phil in the movie Groundhog Day.
In Groundhog Day, a weatherman named Phil Connors mentally wrestles with his endlessly repeating day until sinking in a depressive mood. He ultimately reaches a turning point and decides to embrace and own his new normal: he learns French, helps a homeless man, and falls in love. Just like fictional Phil, we are happier when our days are more varied and we seek more variety, with our home and work life overlapping like never before and many restrictions still in place, how exactly do we bring variety to our days?
Yes, you have to have your daily routine and structure that works for you, but you also have to make time and space for spontaneity. To do this, it might be useful to think of your daily routine as the mere scaffold of the day — it is there to support you as you construct some spontaneity around it! An easy trick is to use your free time as an opportunity to follow wishes and curiosities rather than mindless habits. Craving some social time? Go call a friend! Think it would be nice to have a brownie with your cuppa? Get baking and make some! Don’t just plan your days — actively seek experiences that you crave and that are good for you.
Acknowledge your achievements
With every day feeling like a carbon copy of the one before, it is easy to slip into thinking we aren’t managing or achieving much. In addition, remote working means we can easily miss out on tiny successes and acknowledgments that used to boost our mood. But, the truth is — you are still achieving and thriving in your own way even if there is no friend or colleague to acknowledge it. To grapple with this, you can be the one who is setting, completing, and acknowledging your achievements. And remember, they do not have to be big at all — set a small, but meaningful, goal and reward yourself afterwards!
Creating something of your own will not only give you a sense of achievement but will also provide you with more control amid the world’s uncertainties. Different hobbies and activities stimulate your brain and improve your mental health. For example, a soothing activity such as colouring or painting can help lessen anxiety. You could try an adult colouring book, or opt for something more novel by getting a brush, canvas, and a pop of colour and seeing where it takes you! Share your new found creativity with loved ones — chances are they will be thrilled to share in your enthusiasm, which is a win-win for everyone.
On a professional level, there are also lessons here for anyone with responsibility for cybersecurity. With cyber threats increasing faster than ever, and cyber criminals becoming more sophisticated, it’s vital to ensure that processes don’t fall into an inflexible and predictable routine. Key to this is the ability to apply a proactive defence approach through CDR technology that empowers organisations to meet rapidly changing risks. Ultimately, a Groundhog Day approach to security isn’t likely to have a happy ending.