In a time where there is so much uncertainty in the world, the importance of a daily routine has never been clearer. There is much research to support the connection between routines and mental health – many psychological studies have shown the link between using a routine to reduce insomnia, anxiety and stress.
Most of us will have experienced a large shift in our usual routines in the past few weeks, which might cause feelings of anxiousness, stress, sadness, boredom and loneliness. To help combat this, you might find it useful to reflect on your new living and working situation to establish new routines, which support both your mental and physical wellbeing.
You can think about applying a routine to different aspects of your day-to-day – it can be useful to break this down into three key areas:
- Personal routine: Make a list of activities you enjoy doing – it could be taking time to make yourself a smoothie in the mornings, taking part in an online yoga class, reading for 30 minutes before bed or even just sitting down with a cup of tea in the evening to watch the news (or a Netflix episode!). You don’t need to plan to do these every day but making sure you take the time to indulge in the activities you enjoy can really improve your mood.
- Relationship routine: Whether you live alone, or have suddenly taken on a part-time home schooling role, putting some structure around relationships can help you plan your day better and ensure you make time to connect with people. Plan in video calls with friends and family, or set a regular schedule of dinnertime with the kids. You can even take part in virtual quizzes or game nights. Make time to talk to someone and hear about their day, as well as sharing yours.
- Working routine: Working from home can be liberating – for some of us, it will mean more flexibility and an increase in productivity. However, it does also allow for our work to creep into our home lives in new ways. Flexible hours can be a boon to those with childcare and other duties, but be careful to maintain a balance and boundaries whenever possible. This could be as simple as assigning yourself ‘working hours’ and closing the laptop when done, or making sure you have a physical space designated as a ‘work zone’ in your home so that you can step away at the end of the day.
How you manage your routines will be personal to you.
Mental health is a complex and difficult subject, and we always recommend talking to your GP in the first instance if you have any questions or concerns. If you do want to find out more, below are two links to some NHS resources on with the subject.
NHS Mental Health Portal – take a mood self-assessment and find more information on specific issues
NHS Mental Health Helplines – if you are concerned about yourself or someone you know, there are links to various services run by the NHS and charities who can support you.