Every day there is a new article or news report about the most important thing we can do during this virus crisis. From distancing to mask wearing and everything in between. However, there is one thing that is being overlooked and which I think is extremely important.
STAY ON SCHEDULE
All of us, from children to adults, are used to a schedule of some kind. Whether the schedule is for work or school or even the schedule you had if you were already staying at home before this crisis happened. Most everyone has some kind of schedule.
In having this schedule, your brain and body become used to doing things at a certain time. They become accustomed to responding to the need to work, eat, play, sleep at regular intervals. They become conditioned to this is the time and at this time this is what we are supposed to do.
Keeping a schedule when everything you kept a schedule for has been turned upside down is very difficult. It is very easy to slip into pushing the conditioned schedule responses away.
We stay up later watching movies or playing video games. We sleep in later as we realize there is really no where we need be in the mornings. We skip meals or start “grazing” or eating in passing of whatever is available. We stay in our pajamas and routine hygiene can become less and less.
This all may seem quite liberating at first. No demands or pressures to get up at 6am or be in class or at work by 8am. We can choose Netflix or Hulu and lie in bed all day long. Sounds like what we may have longed for all those days we were bound to the schedule.
Very soon after, however, our brains and bodies start to react to the lack of schedule and routine. The brain becomes sluggish. As if it’s not really awake. The body starts to feel tired even if we are sleeping more. We have body aches and pains from all this new laying about for hours. We start to feel sad and then possibly irritated or both. And we long for our past schedule and the activities that go with it.
It is especially true for younger people and children. Their need for structure, routine, and schedule is even more pronounced. Without it, they fall into boredom, sadness, irritation and are less able to self-regulate their emotions, which leads to outbursts of anger or tears.
When you add on possible fears of getting sick or having someone in your life who is sick and then add on possible job losses and financial issues, this can increase the body and brain’s response to lack of schedule.
So, how do we manage this at this time in our lives? We must make every attempt to stick as close as possible to the schedule we had before this event started. The brain and body need it. We need it. Yes there can be some leeway or stray from the 6am alarm time, but it should not be more than a couple of hours at most and the same for bedtime. Eating should be monitored so as not to stress eat or eat poorly. Hydration should be kept up. Getting outside should be scheduled in.
You can make a new schedule with different activities due to the way things must be managed during this time, but you can make a schedule and stick to it.
Believe me, your brain and body will thank you for it. You will feel better and your emotions will feel better. And it is not too late to start if you haven’t been doing it thus far. Today is a new day and your schedule can begin again.
Until next time,