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Staying sane when your world is anything but normal

Creating routines when nothing is routine

This year started out as a challenging one for many of us here in Australia. We’ve had bushfires with more hectares of natural habitat burned than I care to mention and those bushfires were followed by floods.

Talk about it never rains, but it pours…

Just like the rest of the world, we are dealing with Covid-19 and the tremendous change that is thrust upon us, ready or not. For many of us, the world is now a scarier place than it’s been. For others, it’s another challenge to add to the pile of problems we’ve already been subjected to. It’s more important than ever to create new routines because nothing is routine. Human beings crave certainty, and the current environment is far from certain and more than that advice keeps changing, which creates mistrust and further uncertainty. The pace of change at the moment is mind-boggling. If there’s to be any sense of normality, we are going to have to create it ourselves.

Depending on where you live in the world, you are either already in ‘lockdown’, or you soon will be. My brother lives in Milan, and he and his family have been in lockdown for 3 weeks now. Here in Australia, we are tracking about 3 weeks behind Italy. If you aren’t already confined to home, then you have some time to give some thought to what new routines you can create to support you and your loved ones until this passes. Here are some suggestions for creating some routines that work: Create a routine with you in mind.

Exercise

The current global pandemic is causing high levels of stress. Unless dealt with that stress is accumulating, creating cortisol and doing damage. One way to deal with stress is exercise. Of course, for many, an exercise routine in lockdown looks different from what it would generally unless you’re lucky enough to have a home gym. For example, you can use your own bodyweight for resistance training; there are up to 50 different exercises you can do. If that’s not for you, then come up with a routine that you can stick to and that works for your personality and your environment.

Stick to your regular bedtime and sleep patterns

Getting good quality sleep is always important; it’s even more important right now as sleep plays a vital role in keeping us healthy and our ability to deal with the stresses ahead. The sorts of things that interfere with the quality of our sleep are screens before we go to bed, and this is especially true if what we are watching is of a stressful nature. Avoid watching the news before going to bed. Go to bed at your regular time and practice good sleep hygiene. Make use of the Do not disturb function on your phone, or better yet, leave the phone out of your bedroom.

Create a dedicated workspace

If your new routine now involves working from home and that’s a novelty for you, chances are you’re going to need to create a dedicated workspace. Make it a space that is welcoming and fit for purpose. Things to consider are the lighting and of course, comfort. You could be working from home for the foreseeable future and it can always double as a study nook down the track.

Stick to your regular work hours

One of the worst things I think we could do is lounge around in our pyjamas all day. The temptation will be high for some of us to lounge around. Doing so will send our brains the wrong message and ultimately will make it harder on us to stay focused and be as normal as possible. Get dressed and sit at your new office, whatever that looks like.

Take up a new interest

We all have a list of things we’d like to do, one-day. Of course, there are 7 days in the week, and one-day isn’t one of them. This is an opportune time to start on of those projects or begin learning something that will help you on the other side of the pandemic. If you commit even a small amount of time to a new interest, it will not only take your mind off of things, it will be a productive use of your time and effort.

Stay connected to people you love

Human beings are wired for connection. If you are in lockdown or self-isolation that makes for a lonely time of it, especially if you are an extrovert or use to a lot of social interaction. Even introverts need to connect so it’s important to reach out and check-in, check-on and connect with the people we would normally interact with. I’ve even heard of suggestion of planning a virtual dinner party, or a coffee date. You could do this with a number of your nearest and dearest and have them on rotation. The options for this are as limited as your imagination.

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