by Tessa Bender
Humans are creatures of habit, and routines offer a way to provide a sense of stability and wellbeing.
With the world in such a state of disarray, it’s been an almost unavoidable consequence of having our day-to-day lives changed quite dramatically. When our lives are thrown so chaotically out of balance it’s more important than ever to solidify and consistently practice a daily routine.
I asked a few of my closest girlfriends about what their daily routine looks like, and more importantly, how they’ve adapted it to maintain a small sense of normality as we wade our way through these unusual times.
Carter, by profession an Esthetician – lives in Bakersfield, California and has been quarantined for almost three weeks.
I asked what her routine looks like now:
“My routine is starting my day gently with a cup of coffee. I take a look at my ‘quarantine to-do list’ and make a day out of tasks I want to complete by the end of the day. It’s important to take breaks – For me, it’s walks around the neighborhood, and treating myself to afternoon cocktails once I’ve tackled everything I wanted to get done. It’s important to keep yourself busy and equally important to find little things you can do that help keep elevate your mood”
What I love about this is her “Quarantine To-Do List” – Having this physical form of structure and organization in the form of a daily ‘road map’ is a great way to maintain a sense of routine.
Another girlfriend – Jocelyn, lives in Portland ME with her dog ‘Bos’ and new fiancé Zack. I asked her to break down what her daily routine looks like now:
• 7:30: Wake up
• 8:00: Make coffee – quick morning yoga – shower
• 9:00: Prepare for morning Zoom meeting
• 9:30-10:30: Zoom conference meetings
• 10:30: Snack – Plan out workday – Create a checklist – Set Goals
• 11:00-1:30: Work through checklist
• 1:30-2:00: Lunch – Stretch and drink water!
• 2:00-4:00: Continue working through the checklist
• 4:00-7:00: Relax – Take a long walk with Bos- Have a drink
• 7:00: Make dinner
• 8:00: Movies/TV
• 11:00: Sleep
I was surprised to learn that both Carter and Jocelyn utilize a daily checklist – It made me think about living intentionally, instead of reactively. We have the choice every day to wake up and choose how we want the day to be – Right now we have more flexibility and control of how that looks, and that process in and of itself can (and should) be enjoyable. Sure, there will always be things that are out of our control, but right now we have an extraordinary amount of control in how we structure our time, and the activities we choose (or neglect) to engage in. These decisions over prolonged periods will have effects on both our physical and mental health – There’s an incredible power to this period of time. We are completely in control of those decisions with almost zero outside interference.
I started to look at studies about a Daily Routine.
Researchers surveyed 292 undergraduate students, including 157 women and 135 men. According to a collaborative study conducted by psychologist Jennifer Weil Malatras, at the University at Albany. Individuals who grow up with predictable, daily routines are less likely to have time management or attention problems as adults.
This was exciting information for me to learn!
So then I started to dig, I wanted to know how everything. Most importantly I wanted to know how it would help me right now. A time when things are not normal. How would I do it?
In a previous study, Malatra explains what it is like to create a daily routine in unusual times.
“It’s possible to improve the regularity of daily routines even when less feasible to alter more global aspects of family stability,” Malatras said. “For example, a family going through divorce can still ensure their children have consistent bedtime routines or participation in extracurricular activities. This may help their life still feel predicable and secure.”
After reading this and speaking with a few other girls from my inner-circle, I found a trend amongst all of their responses and identified three foundational MUSTS for every daily routine:
Stay Hydrated – We all know the importance of drinking enough water and how easily we forget to actually follow through on doing it. This period of being stuck at home is a perfect time to consciously make the effort to turn this habit into a solidified part of our daily routine that subconsciously follows through when this is all over!
Take a Walk – Keeping our bodies active during prolonged periods if staying home can be difficult, taking a daily walk is a phenomenal way to break up periods of down time and keep active. Charles Dickens famously took three-hour walks every afternoon — and what he observed on them fed directly into his writing.
Meditate – Start the day with 15–20 minutes of mindfulness meditation – Centering yourself and clearing the mental decks for the day ahead is good for making you more effective and grateful for what life has in store.
Many people add a few more things to the “Must Do” list but I feel if you remember these three things you can easily fill the rest of your day with productive activity with a clear and calm mind.
Everyone is different and not everyone wants a fully scheduled day. So, do what feels right for you. Remember to live intentionally, care about yourself and others.
And drink water!
Here’s an idea: make new friends in the TILL community mobile app for iPhone. We would love to see you there!
Photo: Dana Deaner
I crave routine and find that most other people do too. Lists are a great way to organize your thoughts and not forget anything. Thanks for this timely and informative article.