The Only Thing That Makes Lockdown Bearable
Here in Sydney, we are supposedly on the last stretch of lockdown. Most people’s mental health is on the decline right now because we’re at that point when all motivation is lost and ‘making the most of it’ doesn’t seem worth it. You’ve just excepted that the whole city is going to be on house arrest forever and it’s time to give in to the lockdown slump. But, there is one thing that has made lockdown bearable for me, and that is to…
Have a routine and stick to it!
Creating a routine that benefits you mentally, physically and emotionally is one of the best things you can do for yourself during quarantine. Our brains LOVE routine because it helps them work more efficiently and ‘allows the brain to do work elsewhere’ (M. Z. DONAHUE, 2021)
Obviously, during school, you’ve already got a schedule, so this is more for the weekend and the holidays!
1. Routine vs. Schedule
There is a big difference between a routine and a schedule, the main one being a routine is not timed.
A schedule looks a bit like this:
6:00 – Wake up
6:10 – Workout
7:00 – Breakfast
7:45 – Draw
8:30 – Fold Laundry
9:00 – …
Whereas a routine is more like this:
6:00 – Wake up
Do something cognitive
Do something Productive
12:30 – Lunch
Do something creative
Do something active
7:00 – Dinner
Get ready for bed
10:00 – Sleep
Yes, a schedule keeps you on track and make sure you use every minute to its full potential, but it can become incredibly suffocating and boring after a while. You can become fixated on the time that you’ve set out to do something instead of how long it actually takes to be done properly and you end up with all these half-finished projects.
Keep in mind that something that took 30 minutes yesterday might take 45 today and 20 the next. This is because your mind and body differ from day to day.
For example, a ‘workout routine’ that you do most days can take about 45 minutes, but it can take up to an hour if you are tired, or unmotivated, or sore, or decide to faff around trying to convince yourself that you still want to be here, so you can’t flat out say it will be done in that time and you can move on can you?
2. Split up the day
You do need a bit of scheduling for this to work though, so I split the day into sections:
Get Ready: 6:30am – 8:00am
Morning: 8:00am – 12:30pm
Lunch: 12:30pm – 1:30pm
Afternoon: 1:30pm – 4:30pm
Evening: 4:30pm – 7:00pm
Dinner: 7:00pm – 8:00pm
Night: 8:00pm – 10:00pm
Sectioning your day means you are less likely to be overwhelmed by how long the day is and how many hours you have to fill.
These sections are incredibly flexible, but they allow a bit of structure to a looonnggg day 🙂
3. Give the sections a bit of structure
The way I use these sections is as follows (it’s very similar to the example from before).
Get Ready: Between 6:30 and 8:00 I will wake up, have breakfast and get ready for the day. I’ll also go on my phone or something like that while I have breakfast. I also do some sort of strength training eg. my own routine, pilates (I dare you to try it, it sucks), or one of our workout games
Morning: From 8:00 to 12:30, I go for a walk, and do everything that I don’t really want to do that day 😀. This usually includes any assignments I need to do, studying, that isn’t necessarily fun or relaxing. I also do productive things that need to be done eg. vacuuming/cleaning my room, writing a post, or washing the dog (if he’ll let me)
This means they’re out of the way and I don’t have to spend my entire day thinking about them and trying to convince myself that I’ll do them later when we all know full well I will not.
Lunch: Most days I won’t have lunch until like 2:00 because I get distracted and forget that I’m hungry, but between 12:30 and 1:30 is when I’ve decided it’s socially acceptable to have lunch (for me at least) so I try to have it some time then.
Afternoon: All bets are off in the afternoon and I barely do anything that I don’t want to (so not much gets done). From 1:30 until 4:30 I usually do something outside like a bike ride, bushwalk etc.. I’ll also do something creative and some other hobbies too (check this out if you need more hobbies!)
Evening: In the holidays evenings I pretty much do the same thing as in the afternoon, but a little more relaxed. I do more creative things and less active things. If I was a reader, I’d probably read (I enjoy it, ALOT, but only if I find a good book. Here are some of our favourites) but I write, or do something crafty.
Dinner: Dinner is at 7:00 (sometimes a bit earlier or later) and we’ll eat, clean up, and be done but about 8:00.
Night: After dinner, until I go to sleep (10:00) we’ll either watch the TV show that we’ve been watching as a family, or I’ll do my own thing (sometimes an episode of something I’m watching, here are some of our favourite shows)
4. Make your own routine
The most important thing to remember is that the routine needs to benefit you, and your needs. That means you’ll need to make your own so you can decide how you want to use the day. The tips and information from before is a good jumping-off point, but it may not work very well for you to follow those steps.
Here are some tips to help you make your own routine:
- Brainstorm what you would like to do in a day (eg. some sort of exercise, time to relax, or more time outside)
- Block out times of the day when you are unavailable to do your own thing (eg. the time when you are working, have a class/lesson, and when you are asleep!)
- Decide when it is appropriate to do each of the things, or category of things you want to get done (eg. are you more of a morning person? Then you’ll probably prefer to exercise in the morning.)
- Then all you’ve got to do is stick to it!
5. Be flexible
The routine you make is just a rough plan of the day. It’s for those days that are a little slower and you find yourself with nothing to do, or lockdown when there literally is NOTHING to do.
Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to follow the routine every day otherwise you’ll get bored of it and the things you enjoyed about it in the beginning, will just feel like a chore.
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Do you have a good routine that makes lockdown bearable, or have all the days been blending into one?