I’m going to be honest, this is something that for a while I’ve not been very good at - Maybe because a lot of my working life has been shift work, and so I’ve either been at work, where the routine is strict, or at home - on a day off and therefore I’ve had no routine.
Are you working from home? Have you recently transitioned to working from home?
Under normal circumstances it would be hard to transition to working from home, never mind doing that now under these circumstances. There are so many parts of your day that used to be automatic, but now take extra time and attention.
“You are not working from home; you are at your home during a crisis trying to work”
- Neil Webb
This is an important frame, not only are you trying to work, but you are trying to continue to live your life in a way that brings you fulfillment.
Take a moment to think about how many things you do that are automatic. There are loads of things every day. Now imagine getting through a day where you needed to concentrate on how to do absolutely everything, you had to think about how to get out of bed, how to switch the light on, decide what to do next, and then, once you’ve decided, think about how to do it? (And that’s just the first what - 10 minutes? Of your day?)
Our brains make it easy for us, they take away the thought, attention and energy needed to do our everyday tasks, to free up our thinking for other important thoughts and decisions needed through the day.
It does this through automation.
When you walk a path through a woodland enough times, that path becomes worn. When you go back, you know which path to take because it presents itself to you. When you pick up your toothbrush for example there is a pathway in your brain, for the chemical signals to follow, that will guide you to do the actions necessary to complete the overall action.
For example to put toothpaste on your brush, to turn the tap on, to put your toothbrush under the water, and then to brush your teeth - usually in the same order you usually do it in. And the best thing about this is that you can do this without concentrating - the chemicals are firing automatically and you are free to think about whatever you want to, what you want to eat for breakfast (unless of course this is the same everyday) or what you’re going to wear, or even what your priorities for the day are.
This is both efficient and essential.
So what does this have to do with routine?
Not having a routine means that you have an increased number of choices you need to make during the day, which will decrease the headspace you have to make other decisions and process other thoughts. This will also impact on your emotional resilience as you will have less capacity to “deal with” the next emotional or stressful event.
Having a routine:
We need space to think about and make decisions on practical things that could be different now too like:
Within this routine, please remember to be kind and to have self compassion. It is vital right now that you include things that will also help you to relax, to process your emotions fully or simply to recover.
This could be any number of things that you know helps you to feel emotionally stronger, for example going for a walk outside, doing some exercise, yoga, meditation, talking to a loved one. Don’t forget to include these things too.
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