The Freedom & Mood Boosting Effects of Keeping a Schedule

A Routine Can Break Up The Routine

This extended period of sheltering in place has many feeling listless, restless and bored. Cabin Fever, Stir Crazy and CoronaCrazy are terms being discussed, shouted and hurled with frustration. Even if working from home, it’s easy during these long, lonely days to feel the tug of boredom and even depression when we wonder to ourselves, “How am I going to kill some time today?” Creating and adhering to a routine can help us to, well, break up the routine.

Even under normal circumstances – and we realize, these aren’t normal in any sense of the word – having a schedule can foster a sense of calm and order and can facilitate enhanced productivity. We strongly encourage everyone to take a minute and develop a schedule for themselves, even though you seem to have “all the time in the world.” Before blocking out hours here and there, look at your responsibilities, your needs (such as sleep, stimulation, socialization, etc.) your lifestyle and even your dreams, your desires. You’ll want to make sure to include space and time for each of these areas of your life, in addition to any work you may doing from home.

Everything Needs Structure ~ Bones, To Decorate With Flesh & Skin

In general, we recommend maintaining as close a sleep/wake/productivity schedule as you normally would if working or attending school full time out of the house. This will help prevent developing a sleep disorder and foster getting more out of each and every day. One caveat: this is the time to consider your work/life balance, carving out more time for hobbies, recreation, etc. and giving attention to some (possibly forgotten) passions. A healthy way of looking at the black hole of quarantine is as an opportunity to get your life on a better track and to explore and perhaps pursue an old hobby, interest or creative endeavor.

Another important starting tip: get dressed each and every day. While lounging in your yoga pants or sweats feels great for a day or two, it can be a drag on your energy and sense of purpose. Keeping your routine of getting ready in the morning, including bathing and donning clothing, can provide necessary structure and direction to our days. Along the same of lines of, “Look good, feel good,” would be, “Look ready, be ready.” (The alternative being, “Look ready for bed, well, let’s go back to bed,” and then sleeping your way through the days, developing insomnia in the nights and potentially creating a spiral that may lead to depression and worsening anxiety.)

While the blank page may at first seem daunting, putting your obligations and your desires in writing not only increases the likelihood of your doing them, but also provides a sense of control, calm and needed structure to the long, seemingly endless, days of quarantine. Use a journal or an itinerary/day planner.

Give special consideration to physical activity , something most Americans do not get enough of even during the normal hurly-burly of their lives. The health benefits of regular physical activity are pretty well known and they can be vital to not only surviving during this quarantine but also thriving. Aerobic physical activity increases the levels of two of the most important neurotransmitters in our brains: seratonin and dopamine, helping to prevent and even treat depression (almost as effectively as medication). Make sure to dedicate blocks to getting regular bouts of physical activity. We suggest daily walks outside (the sun and fresh air alone each have their unique health benefits) with a more vigorous cardio activity (such as dancing, jogging or even bouncing on a trampoline) incorporated for at least twenty minutes, two to three times a week. If possible, we also recommend two to three strength training sessions per week as they, too, boost a key hormone in the brain, in addition to keeping us strong, fortifying our bones and preventing falls in older people.

Get Free Guidance:

Here is a simple, evidence-based plan developed by the American College of Sports Medicine specifically for the pandemic.

For older Americans, this is a wonderful full-color book from The National Institute On Aging. It will help to start and maintain a physical activity program that has been shown to help slow aging, prevent falls and improve most chronic health conditions. (Note: the NIA is not currently shipping any of the books due to COVID-19. However, the entire publication is available as a pdf download. Also, their Go 4 Life program has many additional resources on the website.)

Many families with children are also creating schedules using whiteboards or plain paper on the refrigerator. It can decrease the tensions and help kids to keep up on their schoolwork and also manage their emotions and moods. Think of scheduling in time for learning, homework, chores, physical activity and play. For the kids and yourself, also be sure to allot some completely unstructured time. This may seem to contradict the prescription to keep a routine; but, studies show that these “breathers” actually increase compliance with established schedules and even boost mood and creativity. (Boredom is not always bad; it’s often the precursor to inspirational ideas.)

Here’s a humorous take on scheduling during Coronavirus from The New Yorker magazine.

Time Blocking 101

5 Steps To A Better Schedule

Our team hopes these suggestions are helpful. Let us know what you are doing to structure your QuarantineTime. You can leave us a voicemail at 562-674-0775 or send us a video or e-mail message at info@thisAMquarantine.org. Links to more articles and support are, as always, on the Resource Directory page.

~ By, Staff

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