In a matter of a few short weeks, our lives have shifted from packed full schedules to the much slower pace of being home bound.
Most of us thrive on a routine that is regular and regimented. As we work from home “offices”, do school from our kitchen tables, and adjust to life at a different pace, we may feel anything but settled. In fact, you are more likely to be feeling stressed from not having the comfort of your routine.
So how do you develop a routine when barely anything looks the same way as it did before?
Begin by telling your mind that we are “creating a temporary normal”. This allows for cognitive flexibility by creating space for something new and also holding that life may return to some semblance of pre-covid-19 life at some point. It’s okay to hold both of these views at the same time even if it is hard.
Secondly, you must choose to actively engage in a routine. Stick to this new routine as you would any other commitment by writing it down and marking it off as you go. Go old school and get a pen and paper out for the sake of consistency. Even if your list for the day is short, it creates a rhythm of routine.
Try to include a few things each day:
- Wake up and get dressed by a set time
- Commit to move your body for 20 minutes (it doesn’t matter if it’s a HIIT workout or simple stretching)
- Do something productive
- And get outside for 30 minutes
Being aware of your wake and sleep patterns is also key. Treat your current “work from home” status like you would if you had to wake and drive to the office. Set an alarm, wake up, shower, and get dressed. While wearing pajamas everyday might be tempting, it’s worth it mentally to pull out the work clothes for work days. It helps you to mentally shift into work mode.
Go to bed at a decent time and say no to that next episode on Netflix for the sake of your new normal. Do not allow the comforts of home to stop you from sticking to a helpful routine.
Finally, get creative with ways to expand your routine. As this is a new normal, it means we can allow NEW things to be included in our life. Why not use the extra margin in your schedule to try something new like: learning a new language, attempting a new sport, making a new craft project, reading a new book, or trying a new recipe?
Most of all, be gentle to yourself and remember that something unfamiliar is hard at first, but it will eventually become your “normal.”
For further ideas regarding mental health while under quarantine, please read: https://news.virginia.edu/content/how-protect-your-mental-health-during-quarantine
This post was authored by Tegan Vaughn, LCPC