One of the key themes of the lockdown when mental health is mentioned is juggling work with home life, and with that, the importance of creating a routine to get the balance right.
The Covid-19 global pandemic is an uncertain time for everybody. In a very obvious sense, having a loose routine to structure your days means you get to allocate time to all the things you know you need to get done, for your work, to spend quality time with friends and family, and for relaxing on your own.
Mental health charity Mind gives plenty of advice on how to look after our mental health and wellbeing in the current climate, and question if it’s possible to create a household routine. There is plenty of information across Mind’s website, and the science behind why routine is so important for our mental health can also be fully explored on this Psychology Today article.
A few points I’ve personally knowledge-foraged over the years that relate to routine:
• Breaking down your days into sizeable chunks or categories allows you to take a step back and assess where you’re spending all your time. Write down what’s important to you, family, friends, work, hobbies, relaxation time and exercise to name a few. Look at how much time you spend in each area, every day or week. Make a note next to each category to see if you’re allocating enough time to each – Tal Ben Shahar’s books Happier, which got me thinking about happiness on a whole different plane, writes about this succinctly.
• Be realistic. It’s been determined somewhere that 41% of to-do tasks are never completed (still baffles me how they work that one out) however being realistic about what you can achieve each day makes building a routine more effective.
• We are creatures of habit, so creating a simple routine that covers all the bases means we can free up some mental space to tackle what’s important. A thought-out routine might mean better chances of getting a good night’s sleep is likely to improve your overall wellbeing.
Lewis Brown, MHFA