In this crazy wild moment in history, many of our daily routines have been disrupted and we are unable to do many things we used to be able to do. This drastic change has greatly impacted our lives and for most, it has been a pretty difficult challenge to adapt to these changes. W.H. Hou and colleagues from the Journal of Global Health found these huge changes to daily life including reduced social interaction, online learning, and isolation were very similar to the functional impairment of which in turn puts people at great risk of poor mental health.
To combat this, we must first understand what makes up our routines and how to best implement these activities into a home setting. Hou and colleagues separated daily routines into two types, Primary and Secondary. Primary routines included behaviours that are essential for maintaining physical health such as sleep, nutrition, and hygiene. Because of the disruption in daily life caused by COVID-19, some of these routines have been altered like getting less sleep because of stress which in turn can make us a little grumpier in the morning and will carry on throughout the day and cause a domino effect in the days after. Secondary routines are more internal and social like hanging out with friends, participating in sports, and other leisure activities. Primary routines can affect how we experience our entire regardless of secondary routines, this is why they play a more pivotal role when maintaining healthy daily routines.
It was then concluded, to create a daily routine that can effectively decrease the risk of developing poor mental health during isolation that Primary routines should be prioritized and flexible to easily adjust to any schedule during this time. Hou and colleagues stated strengthening and adjusting existing social relationships because it’s easier to focus on what you already know and are comfortable with, rather than seek new social activity and engage in high-stress situations.
If you’re not satisfied with your daily habits or would like to feel more motivated to keep on track of daily life, you can use this to adjust and strengthen your current routines. This could include increasing daily household chores, cleaning out that closet, finishing that DIY project, reading a new book, or keeping in touch with family members more often. Structure keeps us focused and on task, and limits the feeling of emptiness and isolation. Plan your day hour by hour and give yourself enough time to eat at every meal, video-call family, and attend to your hobbies.
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Source: Hou, W. K., Lai, F. T., Ben-Ezra, M., & Goodwin, R. (2020). Regularizing daily routines for mental health during and after the COVID-19 pandemic. Journal of global health, 10(2), 020315. https://doi.org/10.7189/jogh.10.020315