Build a Routine

Sheltering-in-place can be hard, with nothing to break up the day we can easily begin to feel sad or depressed from being inside all day, every day. The best way to prevent this is to build a routine into your day, full of things that make you feel better.

We’ve put together a checklist to help you set up a routine. As you go through this checklist, write the schedule in your diary for the next week, so it’s easy to follow every day.

Clean up your sleep schedule.

We can’t emphasize the importance of sleep enough. Research shows that sleep is important for our immune system and also helps us develop mental and emotional resilience (in other words, it helps us effectively manage our stress levels). “If I have one key piece of advice for people feeling anxious because of COVID-19, it’s to maintain your regular sleep pattern.” says Mindstrong clinical manager Dr. Cosima Gretton. “Sleep is a key component to managing your stress and anxiety.”

  • What time will you go to sleep?
  • What time will you wake up? Try to aim for 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night.

Set up a morning routine

First thing in the morning is a great time to meditate or start the day with some gratitude journaling. It’s also a good time to exercise, such as going for a walk around your neighborhood.

  • What will you do as soon as you wake up?

Remember to wash, get dressed and make your bed.

Sheltering at home means it is easy to spend all your time in pyjamas, but that can quickly make us start to feel depressed. Self care starts with the basics: take a shower, clean your teeth and put on clean clothes every day. Make your bed. Wash your hair regularly. Even these small things help us to feel good about ourselves and our lives.

  • Make a list of the basic self-care things you need to do every day to feel good.
  • List any extra things you can do as a treat (have a bath, put on makeup, shave).

Regular Activity

Finding ways to move your body regularly helps promote both our physical and mental health, helping reduce stress and promote sleep. Find light exercises that you can do at home or outside. Remember to talk to your doctor before you start a new exercise program.

  • What will you do for exercise? Where?
  • What time of day? Try to do it at the same time every day, routine makes it easier to stick to.

Eat healthy and stay hydrated

Eat healthy, well-balanced meals when possible and remember to stay hydrated. The food that we eat has an impact on our mental health. Healthy foods can increase our “happy” chemicals in our brain and help us feel better and be more resilient towards stressors.

  • Make a quick shopping list of healthy and delicious foods.
  • What are some healthy dishes you can cook?
  • Are there new recipes you can learn?

Schedule some enjoyable activities!

The days and weeks can blend into each other when isolating at home. What can you do to break up the day? Do you have a favorite TV show? Is there a home improvement project you could do? Can you plant some herbs on a windowsill or a balcony? Here are some more suggestions: listen to music, dance to your favorite song, read a book, write in a journal, pamper yourself, create a collage.

  • Make a list of activities that bring you joy.
  • Schedule one out every day for the next week.

Schedule time to connect with loved ones

One thing the COVID-19 outbreak has taught many of us is that we are social creatures and separating ourselves from other people can be hard to do. Schedule some time in the day to connect with loved ones, either on the phone, or if you have it on a video call such as FaceTime or WhatsApp.

  • Make a list of the people that you most love and want to stay connected to.
  • Schedule phone or video calls with these people over the next week.

Schedule News & Worry Time

Although it’s important to stay informed through trusted sources, being connected to the current crisis all the time can be overwhelming. Schedule a time in the day where you’ll look at the news and think about the outbreak, and try to stay off social media and news sources outside that time.

Scheduling time to worry is actually a commonly used technique for managing anxiety. You schedule 10 minutes (or longer) once or twice a day, during which you can worry about all the things you need to worry about. If you start to worry outside of that time, tell yourself “I will save this to worry about this later during my Worry Time.”

  • What time of day will you check the news and think about the COVID-19 outbreak? If it feels right, schedule entire days where you don’t look at the news.