Us humans are creatures of habit. The structure and discipline of a routine helps to reduce stress, because we know what is coming next, day after day. A routine around bed time, also known as sleep hygiene, is proven to promote better sleep.. Children and pets crave routine, as it creates a safe, comfortable and familiar environment that they can trust.
According to NorthwestMedicine.org, a lack of routine can result in poor sleep, poor diet, increased stress and ineffective use of time. All of these can then accumulate to result in weight gain, nutrient deficiencies, sugar cravings, and lack of motivation.
So, during a crisis, like the world being on isolation during the Covid-19 outbreak, we are forced to be home. We are trying to work from home, care for our kids, pets, and ourselves, while maintaining our normal routine. As a work-at-home mother for many years, I realized the importance of creating a routine around work/life/motherhood, just so I could have some balance and not end up working around the clock. For me, this meant getting dressed for work, even though I was at home, and setting work hours. It was important to I know when my work day began and when it ended.
While we are at home during this social isolation period, which is for an indefinite amount of time at this moment, we must try to create routine so we can ease back into our old routine once we are given the ok, and so we can stay calm, healthy and feel a sense of normalcy while we are in isolation.
- Creating a routine might look like you literally writing out a schedule for yourself. What do you want your day to look like? Include wake/sleep times, meals, exercise, socializing (via FaceTime or phone), work time, and self care rituals like meditation, deep breathing and reflection.
- Set an alarm to wake up and go to bed at the same time you would normally wake and sleep pre-covid days. Sleeping the day away, or staying up till the wee hours, might result in boredom, ineffective use of time, and maybe even depression. It might feel like you have all the time in the world right now, but think about all the things you could be doing to stay healthy (mentally and physically) if you had more hours in the day to be productive. Think of how many days it takes to shift your sleep cycle in and out of daylight savings twice a year, and that’s just a one hour difference!
- Meal plan as usual. We have all run out to stock our shelves and freezers with all the things we think we might need for weeks or months during this isolation period. The problem is that, because we have all these amazing snacks in our house, we eat them. Most of this is related to stress eating and boredom. Write out your plan for your meals and snacks and try to stick just to those each day. I went through my pantry, fridge and freezer and wrote out all the meals and snacks I could possibly make with the groceries I have purchased. As I run out of those items, I cross that meal off my list. It gives a bit of control over eating habits and patterns, plus I see what items I need to replace instead of buying random carts of groceries.
Above all, embrace this time to care for yourself. Use this time to strengthen relationships, have gratitude for what really matters, and focus on keeping yourself, and your loved ones, safe.