Mark Suttie
04 April , 2020

As we continue in lockdown due the COVID-19 pandemic, our normal daily routines have been completely thrown up in the air. Our daily commute to work or university or school has been disrupted, meaning less movement and exercise. For those of you now working from home, perhaps you simply do not have the ideal setup to do this, so you’re compromising with your ergonomic setup. Every facet of our normal lives is different, and for the time being this is going to be the “new normal”. That’s why keeping a routine to your day is so important. Important for your physical health but also as importantly, your mental health. Here are some tips to help you maintain your productivity and mental health and avoid the slippery slope of falling into bad habits.    

“Every facet our normal lives is different, and for the time being this is going to be the “new normal.”

Mark Suttie – Musculoskeletal Physiotherapist

Sleep – Sleep is one of the most important aspects of our routine. It is the period in our 24-hour cycle where the brain recharges, refreshes, cleans up and organises the thoughts from the day. Sleep also has a powerful regulatory function for many of our bodily systems including our immune system, memory, blood sugar levels and much more. There is a multitude of evidence which suggests that we should be getting 8 hours of sleep every night. Professor Matthew Walker, the author of Why We Sleep? Says “sleep is the single most effective thing we can do to reset our brain and bodily health each day…”
Many people don’t achieve this so this current situation might be a good time to catch up!

Set Your Alarm – This might be a bit later than usual, but you still need to get up at the same time each day. Ensure you’re not burning the midnight oil catching up on that Netflix series you’ve been dying to watch for the last 6 months. Keep a regular sleep pattern, to maintain your daily rhythm and to get started on your work for the day.

Have Breakfast! – This is probably the most skipped meal of the day. Take the time to sit down, have something to eat and drink and plan your day ahead. Whilst there is evidence to suggest that intermittent fasting (not eating until 12 noon after your evening meal the night before), this shouldn’t be the daily norm. It remains important to get nutrients in after having nothing overnight.

Go to work – Try to maintain your normal workday, both to keep in touch with your colleagues and to make sure you maintain your productivity. If you’re not working, then come up with some goals that you want to achieve and set targets to reach them. It might be the perfect time to do that online professional development course you have been meaning to do. If you’re currently home schooling your children, then set them a timetable too, as this will give structure to the whole family for the day. Kids need routine more than anyone else, so keep theirs going as best as you can.

Have Lunch – Taking regular breaks during the day is so important. Stopping for lunch is a good way to stop, give the brain a rest and get up and move. If you’re at home with other family members or household then it’s a great way to maintain contact and keep up the socialising aspect of our daily routines which good for our mental health. Try and keep it to the same time each day.

Get some exercise – We all know how good exercise is for us. We’re told it all the time. Current guidelines dictate that we are allowed outside for one form of exercise each day, be that going out for a walk or run or riding your bike. I encourage you to make this one of the most important things you do in the day. With us all being more sedentary in these times, the ability to move, take in some fresh air and get the blood pumping It’s great for the mind and body and an opportunity to get out of the house.

Do something fun! – We all feel a bit trapped at the moment so use your down time in the evening or weekend to do something you enjoy. Having a good old laugh over a board game, or online live disco, all help to keep the variety in our days. Learning a new skill online might be another option – maybe you’ve always wanted to learn a language. There are so many inventive options and with the internet, there’s never been more opportunity and variety out there.

Keep in touch! – Make sure you are talking to other people beyond your household. There are countless ways of doing this now. Maybe pick up the phone and call someone you care about, someone who might not have all the bells and whistles to be online. For those who are, video calling is a great way of doing this so check in on family and friends and try and do some of your fun activities together via video link.

Have a bedtime – We’ve been talking about routine in this blog so getting to bed at the same time every night is important. It’ll ensure your sleep patterns are regular as well as ensuring you get your required 8 hours minimum each night. Latest evidence also suggests that you should be device and gadget free for at least an hour before you go to bed. This allows your brain to slow down ready for sleep.

In these challenging times trying to keep a routine will prove valuable for you. Each day can feel a little like “Groundhog Day” so make sure you keep a distinct difference between your weekdays and your weekends. All of these tips will help to bring us all out the other side of this pandemic ready to embrace life as we know it once again.

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