Life interrupted. On hold.
COVID-19 has knocked us for a loop. Things will get better, but we need to prepare for a return to the stress and fast pace when cities reopen. We must be ready physically, emotionally, and mentally. The alternative is a flood of chaos, confusion. and depression.
If you’ve already established a healthy routine to work from home, you’re one step ahead. It’s too easy right now to ignore our healthy diets, work in our pajamas, and forget about daily hygiene. But giving your life some structure now is crucial. Descending into a couch potato funk is counter-productive and dangerous. Even if you’re able to work from home, you need to safeguard your mental health by mapping out a plan for your downtime.
A daily routine is especially important if you have kids at home. They depend on you to keep the structure in their lives. Get routines rolling in the morning when the new day begins.
Adhere to Your Pre-Pandemic Schedule
Rise at the same time you did before the pandemic changed your life. Stay on schedule with your daily ritual, including your morning run, bathing, shaving, dressing, etc. Your bathrobe is not suitable attire for an active day. Take a few minutes to put on makeup — even if you don’t have any Zoom meetings today. Have a regular wake up time and bedtime for children, too. Allocate your work-at-home hours and avoid burying yourself in your job.
Plan Your Day
Chances are you had a to-do list before the pandemic — things you needed or wanted to do but never found the time. When you’re not on the clock, now might be the perfect time to scratch a few items off that to-do list: Paint the room, wash those windows, clean out the attic. If you can, schedule those home-improvement activities into your day for the morning, when you’re fresh.
If your pre-virus life pressed your time for exercise, now you have no excuse. Calisthenics, stationary bikes, and weights are fine indoors, but you can use the opportunity to get outside, as long as you take proper precautions. Outdoor exercise beats doing it indoors. The morning sun and fresh air can do wonders. Moderate sunshine gives you a vitamin D boost, which stimulates the production of serotonin, a hormone that uplifts your mood. Fresh outdoor air rids your lungs of contaminants that build up while you were cooped up inside during colder weather. It also bolsters your immune system.
Even infectious disease specialist Dr. Anthony Fauci makes time for an outdoor run — and he’s 79.
Your backyard is safe for exercise, and an uncrowded park will work for a family jog, walk, or bike ride. A few blocks around a neighborhood can also suffice. Just follow local rules and keep your distance from others.
Like the house, your yard may need some catch-up work. It’s best to do chores such as mowing and edging before the heat of the day. With additional time on your hands, give your landscape a good spiffing up. Install new flowerbeds. Add fresh mulch. If you have enough space, consider a vegetable garden or planting at least a few fruit-bearing shrubs. (Blueberries are high in antioxidants, low in calories, and go great with your breakfast cereal.) Kids can help with planting and harvesting. Even if your space is limited to a patio or balcony, potted plants add a touch of life. Scientific studies show gardening and tending to plants greatly improve a person’s mood.
Make the Old New Again
Computers, Xboxes, and social media are lifesavers during the crisis, but there’s more to life than a keyboard. Head outdoors and acquaint the kids with old favorites, including badminton, volleyball, horseshoes, badminton, cornhole, and Frisbee. During breaks from work indoors, get a game of Scrabble, Monopoly, or Risk going. They keep minds alert and engage the whole family.
Stay in Touch
You’re probably staying in contact with relatives and close friends, but consider starting every morning by reaching out to an old friend or classmate. The internet and social media make this easy, and a few minutes of messaging will be a nice break from work. The pandemic gives you a reason to check on them, and they’ll appreciate your thinking of them.
No single routine works for everybody. The important thing is to have one. Staying healthy, mentally, and physically will help you successfully get to the other side of this crisis.