Want to work out? Go to the gym.
Want a coffee? Go grab Starbucks.
Want to study? Go to the library.
Want to get a bite to eat? Go to a restaurant.
Want to watch a movie? Hit up the movie theater.
Want to work out? Home gym.
Want a coffee? Brew it.
Want to study? Kitchen or dining room table/office space.
Movie? Quarantine and chill; on demand.
With the removal of options, we are relegated to doing everything within the confines of our own hamster cage. The “before” options have become bygone luxuries, replaced by imposed restrictions. Life gets a little bit more complicated. Working from home can be precarious, boring, and stressful. Now we must balance paid work with unpaid work such as chores, attending to kids, etc. For me, it’s been hard to motivate myself to work out, especially when I have to travel through my kitchen and resist the guise of “just-passing-through snacks” in order to get to my home gym.
I can easily stress out about having to adjust my routine, but the last thing I need during this time is increased stress. I have observed that many of us are responding to the pandemic in one of two ways: either we overwork in an attempt to maintain control or we stress and worry. Whatever the scenario, self-care tends to take a back seat.
However, it is during times like this when we need self-care the most to combat the increased emotional, mental, and physical stress. A daily routine of morning self-care and evening wind-down rituals can alleviate the stress. Starting each morning with a calm demeanor and ending the day relaxed is key to staying focused, rested and marginally sane.
I am sure you’re thinking, “We’re already boxed in enough. How does following a set predetermined action help?” We, humans, are creatures of habit. With boredom at an all-time high, rituals can easily become mindless and counterproductive. That’s why I focus on only a few things I must do each day – these are non-negotiable. Have you ever forgotten to do something before work and you felt out of whack? Having useful and intentional rituals can help set you up to win the day. As with all things, if this is a new practice for you, choose only a few things you must do in the morning before work and a few things you must do as you transition into the evening before bed.
Here’s an example of my morning and night rituals:
- Make bed
- Write in a gratitude journal
- Drink a big glass of water
- Write out a schedule for the following day
- Brush teeth
Notice that these activities aren’t incredibly time-consuming. If you attempt to do too much, you’re only setting yourself up for frustration, which is not the point. The point is to create a simple, efficient system. Much like what a good warm-up does for a workout, these rituals will allow you to get in the proper physical and mental state to perform at a high level and have a productive day. Ultimately, this will free you up from worrying and redirect your focus on doing your best.