Humans are creatures of habit. We feel calmer and happier when our life has some semblance of structure and organization. But since the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve all been forced to dwell in uncertainty. This uncertainty has thrown many of our daily routines off course during a time when we need them the most.
Unfortunately, no one knows when this will all be over. The key to thriving in this new normal? Re-establishing routines that boost your physical, mental, and emotional health. From prioritizing your sleep to following a simple skin care routine, here are the daily checklists you need to get through these difficult times.
1 Get Ready for the Day
Since the CDC issued its guidelines for social distancing, many people have been working from home. If you’re not used to working remotely, you may be struggling with the transition. One effective way to get into a work mindset is by “getting ready” for the day. In other words, do all the things you would normally do to get ready to go into a physical office. You don’t need to wear your best suit or anything. However, the simple act of showering, shaving, and getting dressed in actual clothes (read: not pajamas) can do wonders for your mental health.
2 Take Better Care of Your Skin
Do you feel like getting clear skin is a Herculean task these days? You aren’t the only one. Quarantine skin can be a real struggle, especially if you were already dealing with skin issues before the pandemic. If your quarantine skin is starting to take its toll on your confidence, try switching up your skin care routine. Swap out your heavy, oil-based skincare products for lightweight formulas that won’t clog your pores. If your stress pimples are particularly bad, wash your face twice daily with a mild cleanser that contains Salicylic acid. Give it a few weeks, and you should notice an improvement.
3 Forgive Yourself Daily
Raise your hand if you have a bad habit of beating yourself up when things aren’t perfect. If you raised your hand, now is a good time to form an entirely new habit: forgiving yourself. Despite what you may see on social media, no one’s life is absolutely perfect. If you’re worried about managing your child’s online learning—and according to the American Psychological Association, at least 71 percent of parents are stressing out about it—just remember that you aren’t a teacher. Go easy on yourself! The next time your inner critic is being particularly loud, look in the mirror and say, “I’m doing the best I can.” That’s enough—you are enough.
4 Stay Physically Active
Between constant Zoom meetings and your gym membership on pause, finding the time and motivation to sneak in exercise can be challenging. But even so, your exercise regimen is not something you want to neglect. Not only is exercise important for your mental health, but it can also help you fight off COVID-19 and other infections—even during the lockdown. According to a 2020 study from the University of Bath, regular bouts of exercise can help you maintain a healthy immune system, which can help fight off infections.
The gym still not open yet? You don’t need much space to get moving. Jumping jacks, burpees, and running in place are all effective ways to get your heart rate up at home.
5 Connect with Friends and Family
When was the last time you called your friend? Texted your colleague? Had a video chat with your mom? Many of us have been feeling lonely since the coronavirus outbreak. If you’re missing your support network, don’t hesitate to reach out! There’s a good chance that they’re feeling the same way. When you check in with your support network, remember to ask them how they’re managing. They may not want to discuss tough topics, and that’s OK. Do your best to listen and offer your support.
6 Spend Time Outside (Safely)
Tired of staring at the same four walls in your home? Make it a point to get outside every day, even if only to take a short walk. Going outside and breathing in fresh air can have a wide range of mental and physical health benefits, including lower stress levels. In fact, you don’t need to spend much time in nature to reap the benefits. According to a 2020 study from Cornell University, spending as little as 10 minutes in nature can make you feel happier and less anxious. As you enjoy the outdoors, remember to be safe and follow current CDC guidelines. Wear a mask if you’re in a crowded area and try to keep six feet apart from others.
7 Get Regular Sleep
When we have a lot to do and not a lot of time to do it, sleep is often the first thing that gets axed. Sacrificing an hour of sleep here, and there may not be a huge deal, but over time, getting a poor night’s sleep can take a heavy toll on your mental and physical well-being. When you’re tired, you aren’t functioning at your best. Sleep deprivation can make you feel anxious, moody, and unstable—and you probably don’t need any more of that right now. Start prioritizing your sleep by establishing better bedtime habits. Try to relax before bedtime, limit your use of electronics, and avoid alcohol later in the day.
The Importance of Routine
In these strange times, our daily routines are more important than ever. Without a consistent routine to anchor you, things can feel even more overwhelming and stressful than they already are. This pandemic will end eventually, but in the meantime, remember to take care of yourself. You’ll come out of this crisis stronger and healthier.