When it comes to steadying yourself during uncertain times, routine is your friend. Creating a quarantine routine will give your days a basic rhythm and help ground you. Doing so will also ensure that you’re doing the things that sustain you without spending effort on finding the time or the motivation to do them.
My Current Quarantine Routine:
Of course, our days look a lot different than they did before the lockdown started. Now we don’t have commutes, we’re home a lot more, etc. I used to start my workday after the kids had gone to school, pause when they got home from school, and then end for good when it was time to cook dinner. Now they don’t leave the house, ha, so I’ve had to set up a new rhythm for myself. Basically the hours of 7-9 are for me; I read, shower, do some exercises, and putter around. At 9 I make a cup of tea and sit down to work. I take a mid-day break to eat lunch and walk the dog. The second half of the day is way more in flux, but I try read with the kids (or, these days, attempt to read while periodically hollering at them to brush their teeth while they fart around…I really miss the days of early bed time) and then I’m asleep by 10:30 or 11.
So the tent poles are: Me time. Tea. Dog walk. Dinner. Reading. Bed. Let me tell you, I exercise a lot more when I do it first thing, and I feel a lot happier in general. I decided that I don’t sit down to really get working until 9, because I was feeling a lot of agita about how I should be able to get stuff done in those quiet early morning hours. There are definitely times when I need those hours, and I take them when I need them, but it does throw me a little out of whack. The good news is that having a routine also gives you something to get back to–a neural pathway that’s already been established–when something does disrupt your daily flow.
Creating a Quarantine Routine:
I know, I know, routine can sound like just another word for boo-ring. There’s a famous quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson that says :“Consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds,” implying that doing the same thing every day is somehow a dumb thing to do. It goes on to say “With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do.” As I was researching this episode I went and read that full quote a little more deeply and realize he’s not talking about consistency in terms of what you do every day, but consistency in terms of thinking the same thing and holding the same ideas to be true every day, which, ok, I can get behind that.
Certainly our understanding of what’s the right way to proceed on remedying the wrongs of today are evolving, so fine. But I’m also arguing that when you have some regularity in your self-care habits, you have a more stable platform from which you can go about exploring points of view and possibilities. Creating a quarantine routine will help you digest and integrate the new information and ideas you encounter every day.
Daily Tiny Assignment:
Your tiny assignment is to figure out what your tent poles are — those things you do during the day that make you feel like a decent human. Is it reading? Walking? Meditating? Cooking? Lifting weights? Journaling? Something else? Write them down. (I’d love to see a picture of your list–post it to your instagram stories and tag me @katehanleyauthor). Writing something in your own handwriting is a great way for your conscious, intellectual mind, to get on board with what your dreamier, subconscious mind is thinking.
It will make it easier for you to find a regular spot for these things in your life. When you’re doing your self-care more or less automatically, you’re building your reserves–and reserves are what get you through sustained periods of stress. Think of it like you’re filling your own camel hump up with water.