Self-Care | Keeping a Healthy Routine
March 23, 2020
Keeping a Healthy Routine
While You’re Spending
Time at Home
(Due to Coronavirus COVID-19)
So many of us have found a new reality these days that includes the walls of our home, our plants and pets, and not much else. Whether you’re now a work-from-home employee or you’re one of the many people finding themselves without work during the coronavirus outbreak (please stay connected, we'll get through this together!), spending so much time at home can be overwhelming. We can find ourselves with a lot of extra time to fill, prone to heightened worry and emotional dysregulation. All this adds up to a lack of daily routine that can leave us feeling vulnerable to combat the ongoing impact of COVID-19.
Humans Thrive on Routine
Routines allow us to create not only structure in our lives, but predictability as well, and we like predictability because it keeps us feeling safe. Routines also keep us productive, focused, and stable. When your brain knows your routines, they become natural, habitual. The more habitual they become, the less work your brain has to do to execute them, freeing up brain space for cognitive functioning - how we solve problems, our ability to use our coping skills in difficult situations, etc. So routines, quite literally, benefit our mental health!
Being stuck at home during the coronavirus outbreak and this social distancing period can make it easy for us to fall off of our routines: we don’t have places to be at certain times, like work or commitments with friends, we don’t have to get dressed and get ready to leave the house every day, we don’t have to go to bed or wake up at the same time each morning and night. But putting the effort in to stay in a routine will benefit you and your mental health in a huge way, so we’re going to walk you through curating a home routine to help you stay healthy during this time.
Create Your Morning Routine
One of the best things you can do to start your day off well and keep that positive momentum going is having a morning routine that you enjoy. The first part of putting together a morning routine is getting out of bed at the same time every day -- and while a lot of people let this differ on weekends, you might find that it works best when you stick to a regular wake up schedule seven days a week! This practice resets your body’s internal clock and helps it learn what time to start the physical processes of waking up, like releasing the brain chemicals norepinephrine and serotonin to aid in the wake-up process. Next, (after making your bed) having some quiet time to yourself is a great piece of a successful morning routine that allows you to ease into your day instead of having to jump in head-first. Brew yourself a cup of your favorite coffee/tea and spend 10 or 15 minutes with some inspirational material, reading from a book you love, or listening to a great podcast. A lot of people also like to use this time to reflect and meditate. However you choose to curate your mornings, have it be the things that help you feel centered and ready to move into the day with encouragement, especially during these times of great stress and uncertainty.
Get Ready for Your Day (Indoors)
When we’re stuck at home, it’s SO tempting to stay in our pajamas! And while there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, it can set the tone for the whole day. Rather than letting the world own us, it becomes vital to protect our energy by making the effort to get ready for a day with ourselves! Consider taking a (cold) shower, wash your face, moisturize, do your hair, and get dressed in real clothes in the morning. This simple strategy of showing up for just you allows us to feel better overall. As in, more like our preferred healthy selves! During a time when our wellbeing is being tested, we need as many wins as we can get to feel good about ourselves and the things we’re accomplishing. Getting dressed for the day is just one of those little things you can count on as an immediate accomplishment that doesn’t take too much effort but has a big impact.
Keep a Meal Routine
Our meal times can take a huge hit when we’re not at work, without designated breaks and lunch times sandwhiched (pun intended) between visits to our regular breakfast spots and dinner with loved ones, we may forget to nourish our bodies as we typically do and, inadvertently weaken our immune system to combat this scary virus. One of the best things you can do for yourself during these days at home is keep a meal schedule for yourself. It’s one way to not only keep some normalcy in the day, but also keep yourself fueled and your blood sugar regulated to prevent drops in mood and energy throughout the day. It can be easy to forget to stop what you’re doing to eat when you’re not required to clock out, so sometimes setting alarms on your phone is the best way to keep you on your meal routine. Try setting an alarm for lunch and two snacks throughout the day, plus breakfast and dinner. When you can, get creative with what you have and meal prep to make the transition even easier by having yummy snacks to look forward to rather than cooking each time!
Start Your Day With The Most Difficult Tasks
Tackling the most difficult tasks at the beginning of the day can seem daunting at first, but many of the most successful people swear by this approach for ensuring their most important to-do’s get done right at the start of the day and therefore, they experience less stress and are more productive throughout the rest of their day. This is a great strategy we can use at home when we have chores or other less exciting work tasks to accomplish and find ourselves putting them off. We encourage you to slow down and gently guide yourself away from feelings of being overwhelmed to a place where you prioritize yourself (you got this!), you’ll realize what you’re really doing is utilizing the most brain power at the beginning of the day to get these tasks completed and freeing yourself up to experience less pressure throughout the rest of the day! This makes for a powerful start to the day and a way to get those tasks that will be heavy on your mind out of the way and off of your to-do list!
Schedule in Time for Creativity!
@littleartlings doodling "You are not alone in this."
Keeping our creative juices flowing during times of stress is so vital for keeping our minds healthy. Designating specific times in your day to intentionally play in a creative space (without the pressures of having to be perfect or sell your creation) will help ensure you actually get to it instead of pushing it to the side as a non-essential. It is essential! Please allocate some time in your routine each day to pull out your paints, work on writing a new poem or story, or simply color in your favorite coloring book. Creativity sparks parts of our brain that release dopamine, a natural antidepressant! Especially in times like these, when COVID-19 is causing so much uncertainty in our world, dopamine helps us stay calm and emotionally balanced, so you can be certain that bringing creativity into our routines each day is good for your mental health!
Routines can be the cornerstone of creating a healthy at-home life during this time of physical distancing and self-quarantines. Things like your morning routine, getting ready for the day, keeping a meal schedule, and designating time for creativity will become a lifeline to normalcy for you once you get them dialed in and settle into their rhythm. With a little structure (and lots of room for rest, spontaneity, and free play), you will find yourself thriving even in these uncertain times once you can discover this new normal to live in. Taking the time to prioritize these daily routines will keep you calmer, more centered, and more able to be with yourself and care for yourself in this time of chaos. You will truly be loving yourself by curating your unique days-at-home!
So, print out our FREE "Create Your Own Day-At-Home" resource and get to creating that daily routine that will fit best into your life. You deserve to live well, live healthy, and thrive!