When life gives you lemons . . . make lemonade. Something we have all probably heard one too many times in an effort to make the best out of a bad situation. The impact of COVID 19 has certainly turned life upside down, forcing us to live in less than ideal conditions. My personal experience with the virus was pretty much the metaphor of being handed a bowl full of lemons.
I was studying abroad in Florence with seven of my best friends when our program was abruptly, and we were all sent home, stripping us of this once in a lifetime opportunity. Upon returning home, I slipped into the stereotypical colligate quarantine lifestyle, staying up late and sleeping the day away.
After about a week of this, I decided that in NO WAY was this going to be my lifestyle during an undefined period of social isolation. So, I decided to take matters into my own hands and use all this newly found free time to work on myself.
Developing a Routine
Getting into a good routine is perhaps one of the most beneficial strategies when trying to be productive and maintain a healthy lifestyle. You should develop a routine that is feasible to attain and realistic for your abilities, so you can stick to it. For example, when creating a routine, I would not say “wake up at 5 am and go for a morning run”. That might work well for you, and if it does, hey power to you, but for me, I know there is no way I would realistically abide by that day in and day out, thereby making it ineffective.
Instead, a more feasible morning routine is waking up between 8 and 9, walking your dog, eating breakfast, and then tackling any word you have for the day. Some days it can be tough to roll out of bed. Everyone is familiar with that feeling; however, I found when you force yourself to get up and get going, you feel better and more productive throughout the day.
Now I know this probably seems boring and monotonous, but what you are actually doing by following a routine is introducing structure into your life in a time where there is not much structure. Everyone complains about commuting to work or going to class, but in reality, it’s that daily routine that keeps people sane. It gives you a structured schedule to follow, enabling you to be productive and progress throughout the day.
Multiple studies have shown positive benefits on mental health stability when a routine is followed. Now that you understand the importance of following a routine, how do you create a good one?
Something For The Body
I cannot emphasize enough how incredibly important it is to take care of your body, especially in a time like this. Obviously, staying healthy is essential during the pandemic, and performing daily exercise is a great way to stay healthy both mentally and physically. I enjoy lifting weights and running, but if that’s not your jam, find something that is and do it! It could be anything.
For example, it could be a less rigorous routine like doing yoga or just going for long walks (either with their dog or a friend). While this may not seem like a big deal, it’s a way to get out of the house and keep your sanity in check. It’s a great way to release pent up energy in a positive and productive manner.
The positives of incorporating activity into your daily routine go past the obvious physical benefits. In fact, there are many mental health benefits with exercise such as improved memory, attention span, decision-making skills and even improved growth of nerve cells and blood vessels.
Think of it as a kind of domino effect. By taking care of your body, your mind will automatically reap the benefits which allow you to be productive during the day. That’s why I love getting my workout in earlier in the morning as it leaves me feeling confident and ready to take on the day’s work.
That being said, if you find yourself more productive in the morning and you enjoy taking an evening walk to release the stresses of the day, by all means, take that evening walk! Adjust your routine to what works best for you.
Something For The Mind
I am going to place a special emphasis on this point because I feel like there is so much negativity surrounding the virus that impacts our psychological health in our day to day lives. You can’t turn on the TV or open a newspaper without hearing about the death toll, PPE shortage, or the possibility of a second wave hitting. With bad news constantly circulating, it becomes easy to fall into an unproductive slump making it crucial to take a step back from reality and ease your mind.
For me, I like to sit in my backyard and read a book or listen to music. If I am being completely honest, I was never much of a reader, but diving into a good book has helped me escape the sometimes-depressing reality we face and get lost in a different world. If you aren’t into books, there has been a huge increase at the rate new music has been released, so throw on a new album and get to listening! Music provides a great escape for the mind and will put you in a better place mentally.
Another way to relax the mind and give your brain a sense of normalcy is to partake in improvised social contact. Humans crave social interaction, and quarantine has certainly shown how one can become unnerved when not available. To combat this, my friends and I would often gather in group zoom meetings where we talk, laugh, and even knock back a few drinks to loosen up and feel normal again. With restrictions easing up, my friends and I can hang out together and go on a bike ride. Even the simple things like that have allowed me to release stress and gives us all a place to ease our minds.
So, what’s the point of all this? What are we trying to accomplish? Balance, or what I like to call homeostasis. You can achieve this balance through a routine that encompasses something for the body, mind, and soul. Just because we are stuck at home, that doesn’t mean we have to stop pursuing homeostasis.
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While none of us saw this coming or really know what the future holds, the best we can do right now is to make the best out of a bad situation and try to work on ourselves from home. The best way to do this is to develop a routine that consists of something for the mind and body, allowing us to stay in a state of homeostasis. Times are tough, but remember when life gives you lemons, make lemonade.