How to Make the Most of Your Routine When You’re Homebound

Photo credit: Nicole Wolf

Living in lockdown is something that few (if any) of us have ever experienced before and certainly wasn’t on any of our lists for the year 2020. However, a break in routine can sometimes be a blessing in disguise — a chance to slow down, contemplate our priorities in life, and implement some disciplines that will allow us to re-enter society as stronger, kinder, and healthier people.

As families and individuals around the world adjust to staying at home full time, it’s important for your physical as well as mental health to develop a temporary routine to follow during lockdown. While this routine itself will be different for everyone, here are some suggestions for making the most of your time at home.

Get Up, Get Dressed, and Make the Bed

When you’re homebound it’s important to delineate your days with a set routine. Simple steps like making sure you wake up at the same time, get dressed (leggings count!), and make the bed every single morning can help set you on the right track.

“Effectively managing anxiety depends entirely on your commitment to self-care,” explains Therapist Anna Marchenko, LMHC, Ed.M, M.A. “Enough sleep, reducing or eliminating caffeine, alcohol, tobacco, and refined sugars, and exercise, are all critical to healing the body and thus, helping your mind find balance. What you eat and how you spend your time shape the habits of your life.”

For many, Marchenko’s advice can be difficult to follow. Living in a pleasure-driven society, our go-to for home time can tend towards the Netflix — pajamas — glass of wine combination. But stop for a moment and ask yourself: “What habits am I building?” and “How am I helping my mind find balance in the midst of the storm?”

Nourish yourself with a wholesome breakfast and get to work on your goals for the day. The little bit of effort that it takes to set those few small routines in place will provide a sense of stability and help you make the most of your time at home.

Set Goals Each Day

Scrolling through social media posts is ok for a few minutes, but ultimately, humans were made to work. Whether it’s cleaning up the house, studying, working from home, starting a garden, or making things with your hands, find something to do that keeps you productive.

For some people, mandatory online classes and consistent online working hours provide this structure automatically. For others, working on home DIY projects (like updating your backyard or upcycling lighting) and self-guided study will help you maintain and expand your marketable skills and could even lead you into a new career! If you have children, there are plenty of kid-friendly crafting ideas to keep them entertained too.

Get Out and Exercise

There’s nothing better for your mental, physical, and emotional health than staying active. While your movements around town are limited, set yourself a holistic fitness routine that covers each element of physical fitness and helps you enjoy some Vitamin D. Here are some ideas to consider:

⦁ Cardio training with a jump rope or dance video
⦁ Strength training with weights, cans of food, or small children(!)
⦁ Gentle, static stretches (when warm) to increase your flexibility
⦁ A mind-body exercise (like yoga) to improve your balance

If you don’t have a yard to exercise in, you could go to a porch, balcony, terrace, roof, or shared garden or patio area. Just make sure to stay at least six feet from others or wait until the area is free before making your way there.

A “last straw” suggestion if you’ve nowhere safe to go is to exercise in the light coming through an open window. According to Healthline, 10–30 minutes of sunlight, three times a week in the warmer seasons should be enough to satisfy most people’s Vitamin D requirements.

Keep Your Immune System Fighting Fit

Staying at home helps to slow the spread of COVID-19, but sooner or later, most of us are likely to contract it. Just as a soldier in the camp prepares for war, we must keep our immune systems strong to fight coronavirus as well as any other viral challenges that emerge over the coming months.

Exercise is an important way to keep your immune system strong, and adopting a positive mindset can help a lot, too. Try these additional tips to give yourself every chance of success:

⦁ Minimize or eliminate refined sugars from your diet.
⦁ Incorporate a wide range of nutrients in the form of  wholesome meals.
⦁ Drink safe,  fresh cow’s milk rather than pasteurized milk (if you have access to it).
⦁ Add a few immune-boosting superfoods to your diet, such as:
⦁ Ginger
⦁ Garlic
⦁ Onion
⦁ Turmeric
⦁ Lemon Water
⦁ Green Tea
⦁ Manuka Honey
⦁ Propolis
Vitamin C + Vitamin D + Zinc
⦁ Specific Chinese Herbal Medicines

Take the Chance to Enjoy Relationships

When everything is “business as usual,” how often do we wish we had more time for family and friends? While in-person visits might not be on the cards right now, spending time with the people in our homes and calling up friends and relatives for a chat can help everyone to feel more loved and connected during this trying time.

On the flip side, seeing the same faces all day, every day can also cause tension and exacerbate frustrations between family and roommates. Now more than ever, it’s important to do our best to be respectful of the needs of those who live with us (i.e. clean up after yourself and give others space) and to keep the lines of communication open so that any problems can be resolved as quickly as possible.

Spend Some Time in Rest and Reflection

Photo credit: Robert Nelson

Above all, this pandemic is providing us with a unique opportunity to retreat from the hustle and bustle of life and take some time to rest and reflect. For people of all or no systems of belief, facing the realities of our own impermanence and asking the big questions about life can provide a sense of purpose and hope in the midst of tragedy.

Just Breathe…

Saint Louis Cathedral

As we wait for things to get back to normal, let’s see this time as a gift to become better, more compassionate, and more generous people. And very often, compassion and love start with being gentle towards ourselves.

It’s Not Forever

The most important thing to remember while you’re homebound due to COVID-19 is that sooner or later, quarantines will be lifted and we’ll all get back to our everyday lives. This might take a little longer in hard-hit areas like New Orleans, but eventually, “this too shall pass.” However, while you’re at home, do everything you can to make the most of the opportunity to build healthy disciplines and character traits that will last for a lifetime.

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