It’s not a surprise that many of us have said goodbye to our daily routines as of late and embraced a change in habits. Getting up late, eating at different times and being less active are common afflictions most of us will adopt during the current lockdown, which isn’t as good as it sounds. While having a break sometimes is good to mix things up, it can have detrimental effects long-term on your health.
Doctor of Psychology Dr. Danielle Forshee, explains this on her self-help site stating: “Routine is not only a great way to improve common psychological and mental health conditions, but it can also help to fight addiction and insomnia. Current research on creating new habits suggests that it takes an average of 21 days to create new habits. This goes for routine also. If you set and stick to a routine for three weeks, without change, there is a good chance that you will stick to the routine for a long time. “
After several weeks of breaking your usual routine, you may find yourself craving more normality. Take a look at our key advice for settling into a healthy routine at home.
Get up at the same time every day
We know after years of dragging yourself up to beat the morning rush a bit of extra snooze time can seem like a dream, but oversleeping can have negative effects on your well-being after time.
SleepAdvisor.org explains: “Have you ever overslept and felt more tired than when you went to bed? That’s called a sleep hangover, and it’s awful! The problem is that those experiencing this type of hangover may be so tired that they end up going to back to bed and creating a perpetual cycle of oversleeping.”
Oversleeping can cause side-effects that impact your daily life such as; diabetes, heart disease, depression and even cognitive impairment.
Set a regular alarm for days when you would normally work, you can always give yourself a bit of a lie-in but try to get up in the AM. Settling into a good sleeping pattern will have a huge impact on your mood, health and productivity.
Make a list of activities you can do
Many people have been put in an unfortunate position of losing their jobs or being furloughed. This can understandably knock your confidence and leave you at a loose end for things to do in the day, but it doesn’t mean you have to spend each day bored. There are plenty of hobbies and activities you can try out, some which you may enjoy enough to carry through to life after lockdown.
Learn a language: Free apps like Duolingo are perfect starting out on a new language. The app reminds you to do a lesson each day and each one is super quick, taking a minute or two. With a whole range of languages to learn, you can take your pick and upskill yourself for the future (and learn some essential phrases for your next trip abroad).
Take up arts and crafts: With Amazon still shipping, it is possible to order some basic supplies to start a new hobby. Whether sewing, painting, drawing or upcycling, finding something to escape your phone and laptop screens can offer a much needed change for your eyes and brain.
Read new books: Sites like Which Book Next are great for finding inspiration for your next read. Books offer the perfect escapism for when life starts to get you down and you can even join an online book club to make new friends and discuss topics other than Coronavirus.
Take up exercise: Even if you live in a small space and can’t get out as much, regular exercise is still heavily recommended. You can buy light hand weights, a mat and a skipping rope as your essential starter pieces. Try to spend 20 minutes doing cardio and make a plan of weight sets and abs that suits your experience (you can easily find workout plans online). Repeat this 3-4 times a week to get the most benefit to your mind and body. Not only will you feel better for it, you’ll find you have higher energy levels in the day.
Make Time for Your Mental Health
One of the most neglected activities, that we have all been guilty of, is not keeping an eye on our mental health. A lot of this comes down to knowledge and lack of resources, as it is easy to feel lost and not know where to begin when your mental health starts to decline. There are simple things you can do that can help you begin to get back on top of things though.
The NHS shares lots of advice online, including these Self-Help Therapies that you can do at home. Designed for symptoms of stress and anxiety, there are several apps you can download and a range of downloadable books and videos that give advice on how to self-manage your mood. Techniques include; learning breathing techniques, playing games to help reset your thought processes and listening to specific music.
Make a Food Schedule
Along with mental health and exercise, food plays a crucial role in facilitating your health. It’s ridiculously tempting to keep heading for the snack cupboard while stuck at home, but if you plan your meals in advance you can try and improve your diet and make better choices for your health.
Knowing what and when you are planning to eat can help you stave off temptation for unhealthy snacks, as you know in your mind you have food planned and will eventually get into a routine. We aren’t saying give treats up altogether, things in moderation are fine and you should most definitely enjoy the food you eat and never deprive yourself. Just be sure to get into a routine of eating often and at regular times to coincide the mental with the physical benefits. Good to Know offers a basic meal planner as a place to start.
Try to Get Out
Escaping the environment that you may feel stuck in can do wonders for your mind. We would recommend trying to go for a walk any day that is possible, of course in line with government social distancing guidelines. Fresh air, natural light and a change in surroundings can make a huge difference to your mood if you have begun to feel deflating in your daily activities.
Be sure to share your lockdown lifestyle tips with us online and keep an eye on our lifestyle section for more guides like this.