Are you looking for a consistent routine during home quarantine? Learn some quick and easy tips for creating a daily routine while staying at home.
The Need For Routine During Quarantine
When the regular structures of our lives are suddenly removed or shaken up, it’s vital to re-impose our own framework and retain some control.1 The answer to this dislocation and confusion is to bring in a little discipline and a quarantine routine by using plans and daily schedules.
Tips For Working During Quarantine
For the millions of people now obliged to work from home, the new quarantine routine presents some new challenges.2 Technology has bridged some of the gaps, allowing some of us to be productive without the usual group of colleagues, or without access to the accustomed resources. Some creative approaches might help, too:
- Do some visualization: Try to imagine the end of the quarantine, when everything is returning to normal and you’re able to get back to work. By that time, what will you have accomplished? How will you feel or look different? Use those clues to build your smart goals for the lockdown period.3
- To get into ‘work mode’, retain part of your morning routine and dress as you would for a normal workday. This can help attune your mind to the new daily routine of working from home.
- To an extent, you have become your own manager, and this gives you a chance to assess your working setup. Learn your daily habits and identify which parts of the day are the most productive. Then, schedule your more demanding tasks for those times.4
- Use what you learned to generate a manageable, sustainable quarantine routine. Asking too much of yourself (for example, expecting that you’ll be as productive at home as you were at work, or that you’ll keep the exact same schedule) will only yield disappointment.
It’s unlikely you’ll be able to exactly replicate your office schedule at home, but you do have the latitude to customize your working space. Choose somewhere that is:
- Quiet, adequately lit, and not too prone to disturbances
- Not the same place where you sleep
- Easy to pack away and store out of sight when the work schedule is finished
- Unlikely to result in disturbance to others
Tips For Domestic Tranquility During Quarantine
Almost everything has changed. The kids are home from school all week, your partner is trying to build a home office in your tiny basement, and the economy is in a terrifying tailspin. Try to put aside these gigantic issues and focus on the small things you can control:
- How you schedule your time
- How often you reach out to other people
- What happens in your space
- What and how often you eat
- How well and how much you sleep
- How much exercise you get
As with work, a little planning can help you get the most from your domestic life during quarantine by forming a perfect daily routine, which makes the little accomplishments that much easier.
Taking Control Of Your Time
Plan each day. Make a prioritized list of the daily tasks you want to achieve (laundry, yard work, shopping, personal and pet care, washing the car, answering an email…)
Build on your daily planning to include a schedule for the whole weekly routine. Identify specific days for a particular task, or leave things loose if you prefer to decide ‘on the fly’.
Make sure each day is sufficiently different from the others so that days don’t appear to ‘blend together’ during your quarantine routine.
Keeping In Touch
Make a point of keeping in regular touch with people. Texting, emailing, calling, and video chat are all available. It might sound formal and strange, but schedule calls in advance so that you have something to look forward to and a fixed event in your calendar.
Taking Control Of Your Space
Living in a cluttered, messy space amplifies the emotions of being overwhelmed by events, so have a late spring clearout and put together boxes of items to donate.5
Consider adding some house plants. A peace lily, fern, or spider plant are attractive and might help refresh or filter the air.6
Taking Control Of Food
For many of us, food is intimately linked to our emotions. Many of the worst food habits are responses to stress, pain, grief, or fear (or sometimes just boredom), which provide the urge to reach for unhealthy food. When the impulse to eat becomes our primary response to stress or personal difficulty, it sets up a cycle of waste and dissatisfaction:7
The key to overcoming these urges is to understand them. Try to label the emotion that sent you to the fridge. Are you sad about the pandemic situation? Frustrated at the lack of change? Bored from being stuck at home? Resentful of your quarantine routine, or maybe angry at the people in charge? Many of us now face the twin emotional challenges of the pandemic and the growing protest movement in the United States; this only compounds the problem.
But you can take control over your food by:
- Filling your shopping list with good intentions. Having healthy food available in your cabinets (and the absence of its opposite; junk food) will help you make good choices.
- Making most of your family’s food at home. While it’s important to support struggling local restaurants during the lockdown, this is the ideal time to learn how to cook and to share the joys of home-cooked food with your family.
- Using portion control and plating meals in advance, rather than eating a continuous buffet that lacks proper boundaries.
You can start simple by making salads, soups, pasta dishes, and easy stir-frys. If something works well, make a note and then repeat it, maybe with a twist next time; your pasta sauce tastes great, so it’s time to load up with extra vegetables and fresh basil; your Szechuan stir-fry looks good, so take it to the next level with extra red chilies, sesame oil, and cilantro.
Then, as your family begins to gain simple cooking skills, make it a quarantine routine to either cook together or trade off to add some variety.
Taking Control Of Sleep
Stress is a thief of good-quality rest, so it’s very important to honestly assess your bedtime routine and see if you can reduce noise, light, and disturbance in the hour or two before bedtime. This could include adding these sleep-friendly tricks to your regular daily routine:
- Turning off electronics (TV, laptop, phone, game console)
- Lowering the lights
- Moving away from stressful topics, arguments, the news, etc.
- Writing a list of tomorrow’s responsibilities, so your mind can put them aside
- Journaling, repeating a gratitude mantra, meditating, and deep breathing are all good elements of a quarantine routine, as they help reduce stress and prepare for sleep.8
Aim to sleep for 8 hours or as many 90-minute cycles as you can string together.9
Taking Control Of Fitness (Both Physical And Mental)
With parks, gyms, and running trails mostly closed, achieving your fitness goals is going to rely on some out-of-the-box thinking. Partner your physical fitness with a new focus on your mental health:
- Rise an hour earlier and start the day with a morning workout. This is your chance to redefine your morning routine by taking a longer walk with the dog, ensuring some social connection, trying an online fitness or yoga class, etc.
- Use cheap equipment like resistance bands and small dumbbells.
- Enlist a partner for a scheduled fitness session over Facetime as part of your quarantine routine. Take a look at their daily routine example and compare it to yours.
- Mindfulness practice. Find ways to grab moments of peace and calm to just breathe and pay all your attention to your body and how you feel. Breathe into your body – ‘through’ your toes and feet, hands and arms, lower belly, and chest – to reconnect with your physical self after long stretches of purely mental work.10
- Meditate for 10-15 minutes a day, or a little longer if you can. Practicing the art of being ‘in the moment’ is one of the best ways to guard against rumination and needless worry; if you’re engaged in the present, thoughts of past and future have less space to encroach.
- Write a gratitude journal as part of your evening routine before going to sleep. A few lines is enough: “I’m thankful for my partner who keeps me from lurching over to the Dark Side; I’m grateful for my online yoga instructor’s calm professionalism; I’m happy to live in a world where people are increasingly engaged in achieving positive change.”
- Take a daily multivitamin every day during your morning routine.11
- Stretch each morning as part of your daily routine.12
- Join a protest and march a few miles for a good cause.13
- To destress, try an adult coloring book.
- There’s been an explosion of interest in knitting, so feel free to join in.14
- Take a relaxing bath with Epsom salts to finish your day.15
- Limit your news updates as part of your quarantine routine; a constant drip feed of bad news is terrible for the mind.16
- Keep providing yourself with scheduled things to look forward to – like a Zoom ‘happy hour’, a nice meal you’re planning to cook, a movie or TV show, or an online dance session.17
We’re all going to be telling stories of ‘How I Coped During the Pandemic’, and they’ll all be different. By bringing in a little planning and some solid, positive intentions, you can establish a daily routine and turn this strange, scary, unwelcome hiatus into a time of wellness, fitness, and personal progress.
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