For COVID-19: How to (Easily) Take Back Control – Create a Routine!

How to create a routine during COVID-19

Never before have regular citizens been restricted like this on a world scale! Whilst we can take some (a lot of?) comfort from knowing that we’re not alone, it doesn’t make day-to-day life that much easier.

When we’re in a stressed, frozen or anxious state it’s easy to lose our sense of time. Hours and days begin to blur into each other. And when we’re already feeling anxious and with no end in sight (yet), this ‘loss of time’ just adds one more thing leads us to feel even more dis-empowered.

It can quickly become a vicious cycle.

Earlier this week I was listening to a message from trauma specialist Bessel van der Kolk, a psychiatrist, author, educator and specialist in the field of PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder). He said trauma is created when predictability and trust are damaged. Apparently, we’re all in a “pre-traumatic state” right now and the best thing we can do to minimise this is to CREATE predictability. It’s essential to organize our interior lives because the usual exterior structure has disappeared.

Rosa Parks Mind and Fear Quote with Butterfly (Fierce Kindness)Why and How to Create a Routine!

As mentioned last week, it’s important when we feel powerless or helpless to DO something – and one EXTREMELY easy thing to do is to create a routine or schedule.

A routine or schedule grounds us. It gives us an anchor, and importantly a sense of control – or agency 1. And if you have children, creating a routine is especially important to give them a sense of normalcy and confidence in the world.

If you’re working from home or working fewer hours, you’re likely to have more “time on your hands”. In this time of uncertainty, it’s still empowering (and will decrease stress) to create a routine. Below I’ve put together a sample routine intended for people who aren’t working. But if like me you’re still working, use it to inspire and get ideas for what works for you!

Your routine could be as simple as:

  • 7am – First Cup of Coffee
  • 8am – Breakfast
  • 9am – Check-in with Friends
  • 10am – Walk outside
  • 11am – Reading, Housekeeping or Home “Projects”
  • 12.30pm – Lunch
  • 2-4pm – Online Learning or art/craft/creativity
  • 5pm – Dinner preparation
  • 7pm – Check-in with Mom
  • 7.30pm – Journaling, Reading a book or Watching a “light” TV show
  • 9pm – Bath
  • 10pm – Bed

I recommend writing it down and putting it on the fridge – or somewhere you’ll see it often. And be sure to include eating and food preparation, exercise and outdoor time, socialising, and some form of learning so that you can see a clear and direct benefit from this difficult time.

Remember the weekends!

Another important routine to keep is to recognize weekends. Without that 2-day break for something a little different, your days and weeks are really going to blur into one another.

So, create a separate routine for your weekends.

Here are some ideas to switch up your routine for the weekend (add in your own times):

  • Sleep in!
  • Have a longer walk (assuming you can go out)
  • Include food or drink “treats”
  • Have a movie night, rather than watching TV shows
  • Have a longer catch-up with friends or family
  • (Get the whole family) working on a larger home project
  • Do something creative – art, writing, crafts or a gardening project
  • Cook something extra-delicious that takes more time to prepare

As before, include eating and food preparation, exercise and outdoor time, socialising and some learning or project.

Alice Walker Power Quote with Hummingbird (Fierce Kindness)Why not create the weekend you always wished you could have?

Without all those errands (to pick up the dry-cleaning, get a card and gift for grandma, take the kids to soccer, sort out the insurance and get some more socks!) you have the spaciousness to chill-out, reconnect with yourself, your partner, family – and life itself. No external commitments. Joy!

And then when life returns to ‘normal’ you can use this weekend routine as an inspirational template for your weekends going forwards. Yes, life is going to get back ‘in the way’ again. But with this LIVED experience of how it could be, once this crisis is over,  you’re going to be more inspired to create a weekend you can truly enjoy and cherish.

Your Mission, should you choose to accept it:

  1. Spend 10 mins creating your 1) Weekday and 2) Weekend Routine. Make it healthy and supportive!
  2. Put your routine up somewhere you will see it often.
  3. If you live with others, share your routine with them *

* IMPORTANT: You can encourage other adults to create their own routine, but don’t insist – they’ll feel more disempowered if they’re not ‘bought in’!

And if you have kids, create a routine for them as well. Involve them as much as you can in creating their own routines, whilst taking care of your own needs. Then paste their routines up on the fridge next to yours.

Wrap up

Fierce Kindness is an intelligent kindness that also gives us “tough love” when needed. Creating a routine for ourselves may not be glamorous or exciting, but it’s a powerful (and empowering) act of self-care.

Creating a routine is about taking control of what you CAN.

And with so much uncertainty right now, it’s essential for you – and especially important for children – to create predictability.

Take back control: Create a healthy and supportive routine!

1 Agency

The word ‘agency’ is used often in psychology, philosophy, social science – and politics.

Agency is the belief that we can make change – have control over – our own lives. More than that, it’s about believing we are capable, that we’re in the driving seat of our lives. Crucially it’s about FREEDOM and POWER – and how much we think we have! Without believing we have “agency” we give up. We stop trying – and we achieve less. We’re less confident, less likeable and less happy.

Right now, everyone has less personal agency – no matter the country, class, race, religion or anything else we use to define ourselves. We MUST find a way to reclaim what power we can over our own lives!

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Image of Confident woman creating a routine by WAYHOME Studio via Shutterstock

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