Some out there in lockdown land, even among the most ardent homebodies, are starting to go a little stir-crazy. Even my Dad, who I thought would be quite content to while days and weeks away diving deep into some online adventure realm, started getting antsy. When I called the other day, my stepmom said “sorry, he’s not here right now.”
“What? You’re on lockdown!”
“I know. He’s in the car. He went for a drive.”
It is understandable that a lot of people might be starting to feel a little aimless after several weeks stuck inside. The novelty and appreciation many felt initially – for the chance to gear down, experience a slower pace for perhaps the first time in years, the chance to reconnect with family and home, the chance to eat copious amounts of microwavable frozen foods and lounge around, Big Lebowski-style, in our jammies and bath robe, not just all day, but all week – is starting to wear off for some.
This is when some people run into trouble. Attractive as staying home can be, if we don’t have things to do, if we don’t have a structure to our days, some of us start to get depressed – especially (but not exclusively) those living alone. We may not realize it at first, but you may find yourself gazing wistfully out the window, lost in thoughts of your past glories strolling the shopping mall, clinking a round of shooters with your friends at the pub, squeezing your sweetie’s arm in the movie theater, or even just enjoying the bustle of the afternoon work crowd as you sip your coffee at Coffeebucks. You may find yourself crying at the drop of a hat, and try to pass it off as sentimentality. You may find the pizza boxes and dirty socks are piling up around you, a seemingly unstoppable invasion. You feel helpless to intervene. You feel like, what’s the point? The world is in turmoil. Everything we took for granted is a shattered illusion.
Guess what, you’re probably depressed, or well on your way.
So what to do when there’s nothing to do? No job to go to. No one to nag. A free pass that just keeps going on and on and on. Well I’m gonna tell you, and if you’re anywhere near the headspace I was a few years back, you’re probably gonna scoff at my Momness. But it’s true. YOU NEED a ROUTINE!
Something about our human condition requires it. Our minds and bodies just operate better when we have some inexorable rituals that we follow rain or shine, come hell or high water. Maybe it’s simply the predictablility it lends us in the face of upheaval and uncertainty. However, having a routine can do a lot more than this to dispel depressive moods – it can make us feel alive, energized and happy! Here’s how: we’re psychologically and emotionally better off when we feel useful, constructive and organized. We’re physically at our best (and of course this spills over to our mood) when we are well-rested and well-exercised – so if you’re feeling in the doldrums as your days in captivity drag on, here’s what you’re going to do! Follow me, and make these 5 morning rituals an entrenched part of your daily routine. I promise you’ll feel better!
- Exercise First, Every Day (or at LEAST 5 days per week!)
It doesn’t take much, and there are a million ways to get it done. One thing for certain is that starting the day by just getting our blood pumping, our metabolism humming and our sweat pouring a little, cleansing out all of the pent up salty bloatedness of days of hibermunching, has amazing effects. I personally consider some form of daily exercise my saving grace, the magic bullet that presses all of my buttons: physically by increasing my energy levels and feeling of “ableness” while simultaneously feeling more relaxed, warm, comfortable; mentally lowering stress levels to the point that even my anxiety-ridden self feels I can deal with whatever comes my way.
Choose an HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) workout using simple body weight exercises like pushups, burpees, lunges, situps etc. These can give you a great workout in as little as 8-10 minutes! Add in a kettlebell or a couple of dumbells and the options flourish. Check out our previous article, Homebody Fit, for some ideas.
My go-to of late is a sort 20 minute jog, the rhythmic, steady cardio to my favorite music gets me emotionally and physically in my groove.
Whatever you choose, DO SOMETHING! Start your day with something that will get your heartrate up and a bead or two of sweat dripping! While it may be hard some days to drag yourself out of your warm cocoon-like bed, trust me – you may dread it before, but you won’t regret it after.
- Clean Up
Almost a revelation, if you’ve been living n your own squalor for longer than you can remember, is how a clean, well-organized living space can make your entire being feel cleaner and more organized! Ok Mom, I finally got it! “Cluttered space, cluttered mind”, “a place for everything and everything in its place” and all that. It works! After exercising, when your still a little high on your own kinetic energy and feeling chuffed about having conquered that inner Gollum that says “stay in bed, precious, order some Uber Eats and binge Tiger King”, is a perfect time to keep the ball rolling and get your living space in order. Pick up those socks. Take out those pizza boxes to the recycling bin in the garage. Wash those dishes and wipe down those counter tops. 10 minutes of obsessive cleaning and organizing can yield impressive results.
- Make Coffee or Tea
Now its time to reward yourself a little – this is the breaktime ritual we’ll enjoy so much more now that we’ve earned it! For me its coffee, for you it may be a cup of Earl Grey, a green smoothie, or just a big glass of warm water (great for the ol’ digestive system). If you eat breakfast (I don’t generally), now might be the time. Keep it light, don’t bog yourself down so early in the day. And speaking of light, try to enjoy this time in a sunny spot, as a few minutes of sunshine provide benefits both literal and figurative!
Ok, it’s trendy, and to many it seems pretentious and heck, we just can’t seem to sit still for a few minutes without cracking up or drifting off into an elaborate daydream or falling asleep completely! If I’m completely honest, this is the ritual I’m still struggling to make a consistent fixture in my daily routine. However I can both refer you to scientifically proven benefits of meditation attest to its benefits personally. Give it 10 minutes to start, and work up to 15, then 20. If you can make this a habit over time, it will change your life.
Even if you’re out of work, or furloughed indefinitely, it’s important to have some work to do in order to feel productive and maintain a sense of positive momentum in your life. Have a side hustle? Great. Work on that. Always wanted one? Do some research into something that makes your heart flutter, join some conversations, find out what you may have to offer in that area, then start writing, make a video, learn everything you can about it. Make a little bit of content around your topic of interest every day, create a task list and add to it whenever a new idea is sparked. Check things off as you progress. If needed, take a 5 minute mental breaks after 25 minutes of intense focus. Spend at least 2 hours a day being “productive” in this way, even if you don’t need to. It’ll make you happier.
How do you stay busy during isolation, homebodies? Share your tip! If it helps one person, it’s worth it!
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