For those that are continuing to experience isolation as a result of the COVID-19 lockdown requirements, finding balance in the areas of physical and psychological health can be difficult. Many people aren’t comfortable with prolonged periods of social avoidance or lack of access to the outside world, and as a result, stress levels and tensions are rising. Since the shelter-in-place requirements have gone into effect, physicians and researchers around the world have reported an increase in mental health cases and symptoms. Though you can’t defy government orders and you certainly don’t want to jeopardize your health or anyone else’s, it may seem like you are nearing the end of your sanity and reason.
The Dangers of Unresolved Stress
Even though people are having to stay in their own homes, there is a lack of control that people are feeling around the world. The local, national, and global economies are struggling, leading to uncertainty in employment situations. There are health concerns and fears of contracting the virus, and wondering if wearing masks or ordering pick up will really keep one safe. Financial resources may be dwindling and stress over repaying creditors may be mounting. Though no one brought these situations willingly upon on themselves, not dealing with the resulting stress appropriately can be seriously damaging to your health. From things like hair loss or digestive troubles, unresolved stress and anxiety can wreak havoc on your mental health, your immune system, and your appearance. Experts recommend that you retain a feeling of control throughout the lockdown (which can result in reduced stress levels) by establishing and keeping to a routine.
The Benefits of Routine
Having a sense of normalcy is both mentally and physically uplifting in times of chaos and uncertainty. Whether you keep a routine you had before or you start a new one for the new circumstance, keeping a level of consistency in your life is powerful and productive. Embracing the time you have in lockdown doesn’t have to be a drag or frustration. You can be intentional with the extra time, using it to learn a language, clean out jam-packed closets, or catching up on some reading. Consider what happens after the quarantine is over. How do you want to look back at the time you spend at home?
Creating a routine will help you make the most of these few weeks. You can set daily routines or tasks as well as more long-term goals for the coming weeks. The certainty that you create from these routines or checklists of activities helps you feel more in control of your life, giving you ownership and purpose with your time. When you create these activities, you are subconsciously attaching meaning and emotion to them. Fulfilling your tasks often brings feelings of pride, contentment, joy, excitement, pleasure, and challenge. These put you in a better mental health position.
The Need for a Daily Routine
For many people, the pandemic has opened up the opportunity for them to work from home. Although this would seem like a huge perk, it can be very difficult to adapt from the routine of an office to the relaxed nature of your home environment. Your brain needs to distinguish between work life and home life, so it is best to create a routine that resembles what it took to get you to the office. Have a workspace dedicated to your job, and keep it away from the bedroom if at all possible. Get up each day at the same that you would have to head into the office, shower, and dress for the day. If you have extra time on your hands without a morning commute, devote the time to exercise, meditation, or a healthy breakfast. Schedule your breaks and your lunch as normal, and be sure to walk away from the workspace to fully enjoy them. At the end of the workday (set a timer for your cutoff point), either pack up your work items and store them until the next day or leave the workspace for the evening.
The Need for a Weekly Routine
Outside of your work effort, plan several times throughout the week to exercise or get in some activity. It could be a walk around the block or 15 minutes of yoga. Plan times where you video chat with friends or family, setting dates and times to give your mind something to look forward to. Establish one night of the week as takeout night, and one as entertainment night. Plotting things throughout the week can keep your life interesting and routine, giving you something to anticipate and plan around.
The lockdown isn’t going to go on forever, but you don’t want to waste the time you’ve been given either. Keeping a routine can help you stay engaged with your family, your job, and your own mental health.
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