9 weeks. It has been 9 weeks of coronavirus quarantine.
Many of us have been adjusting to a new “normal” either with more time at home (likely all of it), or unprecedented times working the front lines.
Under these circumstances, it’s easy to feel like time has lost all meaning and you’re starting to lose it.
If you happen to have cable television, you may have noticed an influx of new ads encouraging people to take care of their mental health, to not isolate too much under the circumstances and to be “okay with not being OK.”
Jimmy Fallon recently hit the #relatable mark on “The Tonight Show: At Home Edition” with his ode to cracking under quarantine pressure, “Starting to Crack.”
A few weeks before that, he and Justin Timberlake teamed up to show us the banality of quarantine even as some of the most famous and creative names in the entertainment industry.
One thing most people can agree on is this: When your normal routine is disrupted, it can very quickly seem as if the wheels are starting to fall off. But it is also because of this, developing a new routine that works with your current circumstances is incredibly important.
According to a study by researchers at Tel Aviv University, “predictable, repetitive routines are calming and help reduce anxiety. Predictability in routine also help you take control of your day and subsequently, your life.”
For many of us, routine activities like showering, dental hygiene, health and fitness and even simply getting dressed for the day, have fallen in priority during self-isolation. And if you’ve been living in your pajamas for two weeks, you likely also understand how unmotivated this can leave you over time. As the days begin to blend together, it grows increasingly difficult to find a sense of purpose.
So, how do we approach dealing with this for the sake of our mental, physical and even social health? Start by narrowing down a basic routine and sticking to it. Keep yourself accountable, because if you let yourself slide, it’s all too easy for the whole thing to go off the rails. Make a few goals – simple ones, like regular mealtimes, daily workouts and reliable working hours (if you’re working from home) – and stick to them.
Then, after you have a rhythm going, you can start adding in developmental habits to achieve personal goals, making the best use of this time.
Plan a routine for your basic needs. This means regular schedules for meals, working out, work and sleep. Obviously there can be some wriggle room on some of these, but the more specific you are, the more likely you are to stick to it.
Wake up on time, take a moment in the morning to unwind and check emails, social media or the news. When you are out of that sleep haze, move on to your first daily event. It can be a morning workout or meditation session, or you can just go straight for a healthy and satisfying breakfast. However you arrange it, start your day off by caring for your mind and body.
If you work from home, plan regular work hours and schedule short breaks for yourself so you stay productive without getting off task. Regular work hours will also help you avoid procrastination and keep you on top of projects that may be easy to lose track of. Managing your task-list and staying productive will also allow you more personal time without feeling guilty or lazy.
Lastly, plan a bedtime routine so you can stick to getting proper sleep. It’s easy to fade away into the early morning hours binge watching Netflix in bed. But if you set a bedtime routine that gets you in the mood for bedtime, it will be easier to transition to sleeping on a regular schedule so you are better rested for the next day.
The Quarantine Bucket List
Now that your day-to-day is in order, it will be easier for you to carve out time for some personal goals.
If you are isolating at home, you most likely have some extra time that has just been disappearing each day with nothing to show for it. Whether it’s gone to binge watching shows or afternoon naps or even staring into the ether – this is time that you could use to carpe diem.
If you have a goal to learn a new skill or language, read more, practice a craft or hobby, anything – now is a great time to take steps to accomplish those. And with your daily routine established, you can schedule yourself to work toward one of these goals (or more than one!) each day.
Pick an hour to study, or write, or lift weights or whatever else it is you want to do. Spread out these goals in small increments throughout the day and not only will you see tangible progress, but your new routine will have you feeling like you are in control of your life again.
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