We've all heard the expression: when life gives you lemons, make lemonade. Great advice, but not always easy to do. When the Covid19 crisis began, few of us could have imagined the profound impact it would have on our daily lives, or how long it would last. One of the best things to do for your health is to realize the value of routine.
Today, many are finding it increasingly difficult to cope, not just financially, but physically and emotionally. Since the crisis shows no sign of ending soon, what can we do to cope, to process all of this and to take reasonable care of our physical and mental health?
The value of routine
It's important to adjust to the new situation as quickly as possible. Habits and routines play a big role in giving our life structure and helping us to feel in control and balanced. When something disrupts our routine, especially in a large way and for an extended period of time, it can cause stress and anxiety, disrupt our sleep cycle and impact virtually all areas of our life. So, what can we do about it?
It might seem strange, but it's important to adjust to your new circumstances as quickly as possible. That means rather than dwelling on the disruption of our routine, we get busy building a new one. One that fits our circumstances. How?
Indoors doesn't mean inactive
Say you are a very physically active person, but are now confined due to a lockdown, you may be stuck indoors, but that doesn't mean you can't be active. We don't actually need a lot of space or a gym full of expensive equipment to be active:
Stretching is awesome exercise. Done properly, virtually anyone can stretch safely and benefit both physically and emotionally (if you have an underlying health condition, or you have been inactive for a long period of time, please consult your primary healthcare provider before starting ANY exercise routine).
WeStretch, for example, lets you tailor a workout to your specific needs and abilities. It uses artificial intelligence to make sure you get a varied routine that exercises your whole body.
Exercise your mind –
Our mind needs routine as much as our bodies. Read a book, work on a jigsaw puzzle, get a start on that novel you've always wanted to write. Even if you live alone, you don't have to be alone. Get together over video conferencing and play chess or checkers (you remember board games, right)?
If you're like me, you're fantastic at starting things, but somewhat underwhelming when it comes to following through and finishing. How can you change that?
Here's what I've personally found:
- Build new activities into compatible things you already do regularly. This could be like stretching while you brush your teeth, or setting aside 5 or ten minutes at lunch to write a few lines in your journal, etc. For example, I tend to let the day get away from me and end up with a bunch of stuff to do at the end of the day. I find connecting my stretching routine with a mealtime (in my case, breakfast), helps me keep on track throughout the day.
- Positive reinforcement and encouragement HELP. Guilt trips DON'T. If you struggle to stay with it, focus on how far you got and see what you can learn from the experience to start again and get farther next time. The only true failure is giving up.
- Talk about what you're doing, how you're feeling, what works and what doesn't. Encourage others and let them encourage you.
- Keep track of your mood, energy levels, and how you're feeling each day. After a week or two, review and see where you're feeling/doing better. This could be as simple as writing a smiley or a frowny face on a sticky note and putting on the calendar, or if you're not a paper person there are any number of Apps you could use.
Personally, I like Moody, by Reflectly ApS. It's quick and simple to use, and it doesn't store your data in the cloud (although you can back it up to iCloud as part of your overall device backup).
You can do it, too!
True, our routine is already different. The more we stay engaged and active, the better we are likely to cope, to feel and to come through this pandemic. You can do it.
Only a few months ago I was a depressed couch potato. I made a sloth look like Speedy Gonzales by comparison.
Today I'm writing this post, because it's working for me, and if it works for me, it can work for you too.
So when life gives you lemons, what will you do with them?
If you'd like to read more by Chris, check out his post on how to Boost Your Mood.
Written by Chris Torrance
Updated May 25, 2021