I'd like to say I am a very Type-A person. I think out my future ten steps ahead, I organize until my apartment is squeaky clean, and sudden change is NOT ideal for me. When the quarantine was officially required across the nation... let's just say my anxiety wasn't having it. My first racing thoughts were, "What about school? I have to change my entire routine! Not to mention I can't even go in for work anymore". Total panic set in because I need organization to function as a human being.
It's not new information that the coronavirus pandemic has completely shifted every American's routine. Now, the Center for Disease Control is nearly begging us to stay inside and isolate from other people in order to stop the disease from spreading. While infinite downtime might have first sounded like a dream, we are nearly a month in and are feeling SO restless and unmotivated. The best thing we can do for our mental health during these rough times is to keep a schedule like we're not even in quarantine.
I know what you're thinking. How can I possibly keep a schedule when I have nothing to fill the time? What's the point, anyway? Quarantine hasn't been smooth-sailing for any of us. Waking up for school is no longer a requirement, you definitely don't have any social plans (or, at least shouldn't), and many of us are out of a job. How can we possibly keep a quarantine schedule?
Photo by Kinga Cichewicz
One of the most important aspects of keeping a quarantine routine is making sure you're keeping an eight-hour sleep schedule. Mine is 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., but you can always back it up or move it forward an hour or two to whatever suits you. A solid sleep schedule does two things:
First, it makes sure that you're getting the right amount of sleep. Too much or too little sleep can leave you feeling unmotivated and drowsy. Secondly, a sleep schedule will balance out your internal clock. Staying up late and sleeping in until the afternoon can confuse your body cycle and completely change your mood, eating habits, and mental clarity. Go to bed and wake up at the same time for just one whole week. I guarantee that you'll be feeling so much more refreshed and inspired!
In quarantine, I don't put particular activities into specific time slots. Rather, I break my day into chunks that are much more manageable and write down my daily goals. This allows me to move plans around the day as needed. If I want to workout in the morning and then watch a movie later in the afternoon, my day will be balanced out with both relaxation time and work time.
Photo by Wes Hicks
It really doesn't matter at what time you do school work, read, do arts and crafts, shower, rest, or anything else. What matters is that you give yourself a day that is diverse with a variety of projects. While watching eight hours of Netflix might sound relaxing, it actually takes a big toll on your mental and emotional health. Take advantage of quarantine to try new and challenging activities like puzzles or yoga. Who knows, maybe at the end of this isolation you will have mastered a new skill!
This separation time has also stripped away our social lives, especially if you live alone and can't see family. Humans are naturally social and need human connection to thrive and be happy. If we don't communicate with family or friends for a long time, we become disconnected and might even deal with mood swings and sadness. Just one hour out of your day to video call friends will fill that social interaction we all desire. Plus, everyone needs a little support now, so use this time to call your friends and make sure they're hanging in there too.
Photo by Priscilla Du Preez
All people need a little downtime and relaxation, but remember that quarantine is not a vacation. If you have any goals or hobbies you've always wanted to take up, there has never been a better time to get motivated! Keeping a daily schedule as you would normally is the best way to be productive and be mentally and physically healthy. So for now, get some sleep, try new things, and come out of this isolation with a whole new motivation!