Stay Happier and Healthier At Home With a Positive Routine
As lockdown continues across New South Wales, many of us are now working from home rather than going out to an office. And while there may be some positives to this arrangement – such as a lack of commuting and more time with family – the removal of our normal structure can have a negative impact on our mental health.
It turns out that a sense of routine in our daily lives can help us to feel accomplished and purposeful – so when this is taken away, we often end up with higher levels of anxiety, stress, depression and overwhelm. As psychologist Dr Elena Touroni explains, “a daily routine helps us put healthy habits in place so we get the most out of our day. And when we feel like we’ve achieved something – no matter how small – we’re going to generally feel much happier in ourselves”.
To help you establish a healthy routine during lockdown, we’ve put together some simple tips for establishing a daily structure and prioritising your mental wellbeing in the face of these challenging times.
1. Create a plan for the day
It may sound obvious, but it’s hard to feel a sense of achievement if you don’t actually know what you were hoping to achieve that day! Creating a clear plan for the tasks you’d like to get through will help your mind to focus on your objectives.
Setting up a daily plan doesn’t have to be complicated – you can simply write a task list first thing in the morning or create blocks of time in your calendar for the items you want to achieve that day. The satisfaction of ticking off each item will help you feel more accomplished when the day is done.
2. Optimise your sleep
Lockdown life can play havoc on our sleep schedules. Whether it’s the temptation to stay up late watching Netflix or too many midnight scrolling sessions on our phones, the lack of our normal routines can often lead to sleep disruption.
However, getting enough sleep is essential for both our physical and mental health, with most people needing around 7-8 hours of sleep per night. Aim for a bedtime that allows you to get enough sleep and try to switch off from digital devices at least one hour before going to bed.
3. Don’t let your oral hygiene slip
When our regular routines are disrupted, it can be all too easy to let healthy habits such as brushing and flossing our teeth fall by the wayside. Yet keeping on track with our oral hygiene habits is essential to maintain good dental health.
If you’ve fallen out of the habit of twice-daily brushing and once-daily flossing, focus on ways to remind yourself to stick to your routine. This could mean setting a reminder on your phone or leaving a post-it note out to get you back in the habit.
4. Eat well for physical and mental health
Your diet plays a key role in the health of both your body and your mind. For example, eating too much sugary or fatty food can leave us feeling sluggish, moody and irritable, while also leading to issues with our physical health and our oral health.
Keep your cupboards stocked with plenty of fresh vegetables and fruit, and make sure you have healthy snacks on-hand to nibble on at your desk. Having extra time at home can make it easier to cook up big batches of your favourite healthy meals – such as stews, soups and casseroles – and pop them in the freezer for a later date.
5. Be as active as you can
While you can’t leave the house for many reasons, exercise is essential and can be a great opportunity to move your body in the fresh air and (hopefully!) sunshine. Physical activity releases endorphins – known as the ‘happy hormones’ – so getting up and active is guaranteed to make you feel better.
Engaging in physical exercise can also help you stick to a routine, particularly if you have a set time each day for your activity. For example, a morning beach walk at sunrise can be a great way to start the day and have a daily ritual you look forward to.
6. Focus on self-care
Taking time for self-care activities is always important, but perhaps never more so than amidst the chaos and uncertainty of lockdown. By making self-care a part of your daily routine, you can establish a sense of structure that also positively impacts your mental health.
Self-care looks different for everyone, so it’s important to experiment and find an activity that works for you. Some ideas include painting or drawing, playing a musical instrument, learning a new skill, or engaging in a fun physical activity such as dancing. Discover what makes you happy and do more of it!
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