As we move into the fourth week of lockdown, the novelty of sleeping in, working from home (or indeed not working at all) and having more time with our families may be wearing thin. According to health experts, having some kind of daily routine can help you feel as if your days have purpose again.
There is much to be said for the importance of maintaining a daily routine during what will – fingers crossed – be a brief moment in time before we dive head first back into our old lives. And who knows, we might even find something useful from this ‘new normal’ to take with us!
Yet, for some, it can be tough to know how to structure your time during lockdown, so we asked an expert for their tips on making the most out of your day.
Health and fitness expert Elenor Heaton-Armstrong tells us how to plan our daily routine during the lockdown period…
1. Wake up slowly – and don’t reach for your phone
Most of us can admit we have a terrible habit of reaching for our phones first thing. It’s a tough act to knock on the head, but it isn’t impossible to reclaim that ‘phone-time’ back. If you’re lucky enough to be able to sleep as long as your body lets you, I’d highly recommend it.
To gently awaken your brain and body, I suggest you try the following routine:
- Eyes open, focus on what you can hear and see – not your phone!
- Have a glass of water as soon as you can. Your body has gone without water for a prolonged period and needs hydration asap.
- Breathe. I like to light a candle and take deep breaths, even if only for one or two minutes.
2. Take some time during the day that’s just for you
Making time for yourself during the day, even if you’re still working eight hours, is essential. If there’s any time left between work, housework and kids and/or pets, make sure you factor in something that rewards YOUR passions.
Examples of this could be:
- A creative or educational project.
- Something that is useful, as well as satisfying. This could be baking, having a big clear-out, or rearranging bookshelves or cupboards.
- Enjoying some time outside if you’re fortunate enough to have a garden or patio. Take a walk about the garden, or even simply sit on your patio and observe your surroundings with a cup of tea.
3. Plan in some exercise, at least three times a week
While there is no reason to make exercise a priority as part of your daily routine, a couple of 30-minute sessions a week will do wonders for your brain and body. There are heaps of online workouts, especially on YouTube, including everything from yoga to high-intensity interval training (HIIT). You could even try body coach Joe Wicks’ at-home workouts. His videos cater to ages ranging from little ones or teenagers to seniors.
4. Distinguish daytime from evening
A clear distinction between working hours and leisure hours should be drawn during your daily routine. Make sure you leave your ‘office’ even though there is no one there to tell you to. This is your time.
To enhance your evening…
- Eat something satisfying. Whether it’s a nourishing meal you’ve cooked from scratch or a big bar of chocolate, you’ve made it through another day of lockdown and you’ve earned it.
- Pamper yourself, whether that means taking a long bath or catching up on personal grooming with an at-home face mask. It’s a good way to exercise some self-care.
- Try and have less screen time towards the end of the day. Bring your brain back to the present and focus on the now.
- Stretch. A few simple stretching exercises will help relieve the muscles you’ve used (or not used!) during your day. Feel free to follow our yoga and stretching tutorial, or just do whatever feels nice.
Even if you’ve had a busy evening, take time to switch off properly instead of just jumping into bed. No matter what you’ve done during the day, your brain has worked hard and deserves a little R&R before drifting off.
Go back to that moment of quiet and solitude you had at the beginning of the day. Breathe, light a candle, look at the sky. If this is the one moment of peace you have today, make the most of it!
To enhance your bedroom routine…
- I love making my bedroom into a real sanctuary. An essential oil diffuser, everything neat and tidy, even a little bit of classical or whale music on in the background! Trust me, it may sound silly, but it’s such a nice way to end your day. Plants are also a great way of bringing the outdoors in to enhance your surroundings. Some of the convenience stores are currently still selling plants and seeds, so have a look next time you go on your grocery run.
- Acknowledge the good moments and the bad moments from your day. This situation is new to everyone and there is no right and wrong to your day. All you can do is pay attention to how you feel and process those feelings accordingly.
Devising a daily routine is all about making the most out of your day; whether that means a morning workout every day, learning a new skill in the evenings, or spending more quality time with your family – just make sure you do what’s right for you. And remember that as long as you’re getting enough sleep, dealing with stress or anxiety in a healthy way, not drinking too much and eating well, you’re going to survive the next few months with ease.
ALSO SEE: Mindfulness: Take A Minute For You
Features writer by trade, music lover and fine-line illustrator by nature. As an expert on the ’70s era, Marike will happily introduce you to her record collection. She’s passionate about African art and culture. And if she’s not off on an adventure, you’ll most likely find her making coffee.