Sitcoms of the 80s and 90s depicted shopping malls as teenagers’ haven. No reason it can’t be one of your offices.
Look, I know a shopping mall isn’t the epitome of health. Yes, a walk in the woods or going to a coffee shop with a sea view is better. But sometimes you need the change, size and the warmth.
If you are already healthy and can stand the harsh winter weather, please, by all means, walk outside every day. As much as you can. Even if it is just to and back from your favorite coffee shop.
What if you sweat so much that by the time you get to the coffee house, even if it is just 15 minutes from your house, you look like you fell into a lake? Including and especially your hair? There is no possible way you can conveniently carry extra clothes, underwear, and hair-dryer along with your laptop and other freelancing essentials. Not unless you have the shoulder strength of a veteran backpacker. I don’t. And oh, one change of clothes doesn’t take my sweat away.
You might think the sweating is because I’m fat, but I’m not. While unfortunately I have extra weight I’m trying to lose, calling me fat would be scientifically incorrect. Picture below for scale.
Okay. So you, for one reason or another, you can’t walk to favorite coffee shop every day. You don’t live in a mansion, and you don’t have a treadmill desk (aff. link). You don’t have a gym membership. How are you going to get your exercise?
That’s where shopping malls come in.
I live in a city where malls are ubiquitous. They come with a selection of restaurants, coffee shops and all kinds of stores. And with so many malls to choose from, there are ones that aren’t too crowded and too expensive.
Here’s how to make the most of that mall:
- Set your timer. We all stay focused for different lengths. If the Pomodoro technique of working for 25-minute periods with 5 minute breaks (and then a 20-25 minute break at the end of 4-5 periods) gets your productivity going, great. If not, find out your sweet spot. But for the love of gods of productivity and sanity, don’t stay glued to your computer for hours on end.
Yes, I’m guilty of this. I suppose most writers are. It comes back to bite me in the form of extra pounds and nerve entrapment. So I’m writing this to remind you and myself.
It’s perfectly fine not to distract yourself in the middle of a productivity burst. But we all know they don’t always happen. So take regular breaks.
What has got this to do with the mall, you ask?
- Take a short walk during your break. I don’t know how shopping malls work in your country, but in mine, most shopping mall cafés don’t have bathrooms of their own. So you have to take like at least 500 steps just for a bathroom break. 2 bathroom breaks, you already got your first 1000.
Now, obviously it is better if you walk continuously at a certain speed. But 500 every time you need to pee, and if you have a regular-sized bladder and keep yourself hydrated enough, it is still a lot more than the bathroom-going exercise in your house.
- Take a longer walk during your longer break. Explore the stores. The bigger the mall, the better. If you actually try stuff on, the more calories gone. Sure, it is not sports. But it is better than staring at your TV or just doing the dishes. And never underestimate how many calories can be spent during shopping. One summer, my main method of exercise was shopping, and I lost like 18 pounds (about 8kgs.) Of course, I live in Istanbul, a shopping heaven. Never underestimate the power of your legs.
What about my stuff?
Unless I personally know the staff, I just take all valuable items with me: desktop, money, phone. I have MacBook Air (aff.link), so leaving everything else still makes me light as rain. No one steals your coat. Of course, it doesn’t hurt to tell the staff you are coming back.
But no one thinks you are a runner when you leave behind a table full of stuff. It might not fly everywhere, but it has worked for me so far. And there are almost always other friendly people who will watch your stuff. No one minds having the responsibility of watching your coat and some stationery.
Alternatively, you can use a co-working space; some malls have them. Or you can rent lockers at a little cost.
- Go outside, even if it is just the parking lot. You obviously need natural light and fresh air. So go get it. You are already dressed; you won’t get lazy.
- Walk back home. Or take a longer method of transportation. As long as it is safe and doable, try walking back.
- Take the escalators, and walk on them. (Unless you have a problem with your knees and the doctors told you to avoid them.)
- Always take the longer route. Go to the further escalator, further bathroom. Stride along the largest stores.
- Choose a café or restaurant with healthy options. I get that eating healthily generally costs a lot more. But unless it is Burger King, there is something healthy (or healthy-ish), affordable, tasty and fulfilling on the menu. Order that.
A couple of customized tips for those with a sensitive stomach:
I have gastritis, so I feel your pain. I have to take medication every day and limit my consumption of coffee to two mugs. Eating outside is always risky. What you can do to reduce the risk of food poisoning, indigestion and nausea:
– Order plain Greek yoghurt alongside whatever you are having. If you are in Turkey or at a Turkish restaurant, order Ayran (a traditional soft drink made with yoghurt, salt and water.) It greatly reduces the risk of nausea and or food poisoning. It is also great for your immune system.
– Ask for extra lemons for your salad. Lemon that stuff up! And I don’t mean lemon juice or sauce. I mean actual lemon slices. Not everyone washes salad ingredients so well. With the amount of chemical products we use on plants, you can’t be too careful. Also, it is extra vitamin C. Don’t you love killing multiple birds with one stone?
– Order hot, plain black tea with your meal and drink it with lemon. Also reduces risk of nausea, indigestion or food-poisoning.
– If you can’t or won’t do any of the above, add lemon to your water. It is healthier, better for your metabolism and again, protects your precious stomach. You are welcome. 🙂
- Obviously, don’t ignore the health of your wallet. I recommend choosing a mall with a range of stores, affordable to are you freaking kidding me? In case you need to do some shopping, get that chore done, without killing your budget.
- Enjoy other people. You don’t have to mingle with them, but even being alone in a crowd lightens the unbearable heaviness of working alone. And if you are at a co-working space, you can meet other freelancers.
There you go. As I said, if you can take long walks in nature, walk or cycle to your favorite coffee shop or office, it is much better. But if you need a change of scenery, it is far too cold or hot to be outside and taking a hike is not an option, try working at a shopping mall. It might be very good for you. Guess where this post was written?