Last Friday I moved back to the UK after 8 months spent living and working abroad in Spain. Alongside a huge rush of excitement to be back with my family, friends and a fully-stocked fridge, there was a hint of sadness too at leaving behind a place I’d called ‘home’ for a while. I have also left behind a routine I felt pretty settled in, from my job working in the school every week as a British Language Assistant, to the online tutoring classes I taught in the run up to GCSE exams and a whole social life mixing with the other Language Assistants and classes at the gym.
So, now what? In the adrenaline rush of packing up 8 months worth of stuff and enough new pieces from Zara to fill a whole wardrobe, I haven’t stopped for a second to refocus my mind on what will be in store for me in my next chapter. My Year Abroad is over, I have said goodbye to my friendship circle, for now, and have relocated back home with no immediate university deadlines or a job for a few weeks. The regimented routine is no more, so what happens now?
They say it takes 66 days for a new habit or routine to stick, but is there any way to speed up this process? For university students, especially those back from Study Abroad/A Year in Industry, there’s often a period of feeling in limbo before jumping back into university life in the Autumn, and I have noticed that with this comes a constant buzz of uncertainty. So far every time I have been back at home since March last year, I have been counting down the days in the back of my mind until my next flight back to my temporary home abroad. There was never really an opportunity to just sit and ‘be’ at home for a while.
Luckily I have a great job in the pipeline for a month this summer which is a good focus for my mind, but I still find myself wondering when I next need to hop back on a plane, and haven’t fully unpacked my bags yet either. It hasn’t quite sunk in that I’m back in the UK for good and am free from the living-out-of-a-suitcase lifestyle, or that I can order my Starbucks coffee in English.
I seem to have subconsciously channelled all these nerves of uncertainty into a new hobby and have started the NHS Couch to 5K running plan and bought a cliché pair of new trainers. Although I have always loved classes at the gym, I have found that running not only gives me a chance to exercise outdoors, but also a moment to reflect and zone out for half an hour.
Here are three tips to getting your mind focused after a change of routine:
Wake up and switch off
It’s easy to slip into a routine of lie-ins with no immediate morning plan of action, but getting up early at the same time each day will channel your mind into a focused outlook from the get-go. I always switch my phone onto flight mode before I go to bed and keep it active for the first hour of each day, meaning I am less likely to scroll through Instagram and can focus on mentally preparing myself for the day ahead.
Think of exercise as not only a chance to up your heart rate, but also to focus your mind and have dedicated self-care time. Whether it’s through running or a class at the gym, I always try to see the hour as a time to implement self-care.
Build your own routine
Whether it’s looking for a work experience opportunity, learning a language or starting a new hobby, we can always find things to build into our own new routine. Start by planning workouts, scheduling time to get ahead with university work and booking in social time with friends, and as a result your mind will feel more focused.
Thank you for reading!