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Routine and Self Management


Now that the everyday routines we relied on have been altered due to far reaching stay at home orders, you might find yourself a little lost in the sauce. It might be difficult to get out of bed, complete assignments, or even just feed yourself regularly. You are not unique in this experience. The local news in Cleveland, OH even started a new segment on their daily broadcast called, “What day is it?” Apparently, everyone needs a little help in this department. So how do we create some routine to anchor ourselves so we aren’t lost in an endless parade of days? Some suggestions below:

Set your alarm

Try to have regular times you wake and go to sleep. The number of hours each individual needs to feel rested can vary but try to get at least 7-8 hours of sleep each night before your alarm wakes you.

Get dressed

As tempting as it is to shuffle around in your snuggly onesie pajamas, you might feel a little better if you shower and get dressed. It’s also good hygiene to change your clothes from time to time!

Write out your daily routine and make a plan for the week: 

  • Carve out blocks of time for meals, water breaks, and snack breaks. Try to set aside special days where you might cook a more elaborate breakfast or try out a new dinner recipe. There are a lot of cooking resources available online, and nourishing your physical body is just as important as feeding your mind. 
  • Set aside time to move your body. That might look like a workout video, a walk outside, or some simple stretching to keep you limber.
  • Schedule in study time, class time, and time you spend on something you enjoy.
  • Make virtual friend dates each day or a few times a week so you can stay connected and fend off feelings of social isolation. 
  • Clean one area in your home space. Maybe it’s your study area, making your bed, or doing the dishes. It’s a small accomplishment that will make your environment a little more inviting and calm.

Write your schedule down for moments when you seem to forget what you should or could be doing. Also be sure to have a mix of the things you need to do, like school work or chores, and also sprinkle in the things you like to do. Like dressing your dog up and taking him for a walk. Give yourself things to look forward to. Add a variety of activities and projects to your days. 

Spend time outside: 

Do this while observing public health responsibilities like social distancing but do go outside if possible. Take a walk in the park, observe the blooming flowers and boughs of the trees swaying in the wind. It can be restorative to be close to nature. You can even sit on your porch or in your backyard and soak in a little sun, feel the breeze on your skin.

Limit intake of social media and news:

It’s important to be informed, but there is a tipping point where excessive news can only deepen anxiety instead of alleviating it. Consider restricting your social media consumption to a specific amount of time and relegate it to a specific hour of the day, like the mid-afternoon. Try not to get sucked in during the evening hours, especially since phone and computer use can negatively impact sleep. 

Set aside intentional time: 

That means take time to take care of yourself. Have a long bath or eat your favorite meal. For some, this might be an opportunity to learn how to play an instrument, crochet a scarf, or read that lengthy novel on the shelf. It might be a good time to identify something you’ve wanted to make time for and try to include it in your daily schedule or weekly plan. Learning something new or accomplishing a longstanding goal might feel really good. It doesn’t have to be anything big. No one is expecting you to emerge a guitar virtuoso or a five star chef, but new activities can bring pleasure to long days. 

Remember, be wary of the trap of productivity:

Don’t expect yourself to be more productive than you have ever been before.  We are in an unprecedented global crisis so be gentle with yourself! Many people are more accustomed to being self-critical than self-compassionate. Treat yourself the way you would treat a friend--with kindness. If you find your attention-span is fractured and it takes you longer to complete simple tasks at this time, this might be a sign you need a break, a breath of fresh air, or to talk to a friend. There’s nothing wrong with feeling affected by what is happening in the world and in your communities, but don’t forget to make space for restoration and care for your well-being too.