How to Keep Up Healthy Routines During Coronavirus
Creating and maintaining routines can help with mental and physical health.
Posted March 16, 2020
One of the biggest impacts that coronavirus will have for many of us is in completely disrupting our usual routines. Depending on which country you live in, you may find yourself in self-isolation, dealing with children off school, unable to attend your usual sports club, or seriously curtailing your social activities based on your own judgment. Routine—boring as it sounds—is a cornerstone of good mental health. Particularly for people with conditions including Bipolar Disorder, ADHD, ASD, and insomnia, a disruption in routine can severely impact your mental health.
Why do we need routines?
Without routine, life becomes unpredictable, and if you have an underlying condition associated with anxiety, this unpredictability and lack of structure can cause stress, worry, and disruption. Having routine means we know what is coming next and removes the need for decision making and the feelings of overwhelm that can be the result of constantly having to think on our feet. Routine helps us to implement things that are good for us—such as exercise—without having to think about it. We simply go on autopilot. Effective routines allow you to prioritise what needs to be done.
Through no fault of our own, our routines may be completely turned upside down at this point in time. The danger here is that you can become anxious and even turn to unhealthy forms of self-medication and unhealthy responses, particularly if you have a mental health condition where routine provides a safe bedrock. If you feel that your safety net of routine has been pulled from under you—that appointments crucial to your well-being are cancelled, for instance—it’s easy to be tempted to let your mental and physical health fall by the wayside.
Coronavirus is going to demand that we implement new routines. Here’s how you can do that.
Incorporate meditation into your day
If you’ve never meditated, now is a great time to start. Meditation helps with mental health and strengthening immunity. Download a good app, set a time each day to do it, and get started!
If you’re unable to get to the gym or go to your usual exercise class, think about how you can incorporate a short yoga or Pilates routine into your day. There are some great YouTube videos and, whilst it’s not the same as going to a class, it will help you stay strong and flexible. Depending on your fitness level, you could do a short HIIT training session in the house. Got a kid off school? Have some fun and do something physical together.
Read a book
Reading a book can provide many health benefits that you won’t get from watching countless hours of TV (which isn’t to say that watching TV is bad—just that it’s not a great idea to let it take up your entire day!).
Stay in touch with other people
Make some time each day to make contact with those you love. Whether you use phone or Facetime, it’ll help you maintain the social contact that is so important for your and their well-being.
Try something new
Is there a hobby you’ve always fancied? Can you order a kit online or start working with that material you’ve had stored for years? How about getting some felt tips and doing some drawing or writing a bit of poetry. If you’ve got more time on your hands at home, now is the perfect time to try out something new.
It can be hard to remember to take care of yourself when you're worried about your health and that of your family and perhaps facing economic hardship. Creating new routines requires effort, particularly if you have existing mental health issues, but they will help you to stay healthy at this time. Whilst things feel more unstable in the world, you can help maintain stability in your own life by putting into place these suggestions.
1. Houston, S.M., Lebel, C., Katzir, T. et. Al. (2015) Reading skill and structural brain development, Neuroreport, 25(5) 347-352