Have you heard of the Quarantine 15—the 15 pounds that some people anticipate putting on while social distancing? This week, we’re sharing some lifestyle strategies for avoiding it. We talked yesterday about emotional eating. Today, we are going to touch on the importance of creating routines.
Think for a moment about your daily routines before the COVID-19 crisis. How many of those are still in place right now?
If you’re like me, your routines have completely changed (to the point where it feels like it’s not even my life anymore sometimes!). My workdays now involve homeschooling, my daily instacart order has been replaced with biweekly grocery store missions, and don’t get me started on my sleep schedule.
Nonetheless, I’ve been making an effort to create some temporary routines until things go back to normal. Among other benefits, routines:
- Help you stay organized.
- Give you a sense of control in a time of uncertainty.
- Help keep your body’s circadian rhythms in check.
- Create some sense of normalcy
Routines are also key to forming healthy habits.
Habits form in a loop that consists of a cue, a routine, and a reward.
Over time, we build routines based on cues throughout the day. For example:
- Brushing our teeth (routine) after waking up (cue).
- Eating a healthy breakfast (routine) after a morning workout (cue).
- Walking the dog (routine) after dinner (cue).
It’s more difficult to stick with healthy habits when routines are disrupted because our cues are also disrupted.
As such, one way to get back on track with healthy habits is to start building some new routines.
6 Tips for Creating Routines
The first thing to know about creating routines is that it takes some time for them to stick. Give yourself some grace and be patient with it.
That said, here are a few tips for creating routines.
- Take a moment to write down your pre-quarantine daily and weekly routines. Examples might include working out at a certain time each day, or meal prepping once per week. Think about which of these routines served you well and are worth getting back to.
- Pick a task from this list that you do every single day, and schedule it in your calendar. This can be something as simple as waking up or eating dinner. Do it at your scheduled time every day, and add another scheduled task to your calendar after you’ve successfully completed your first task for 3-4 days in a row. Keep adding a new scheduled task every few days.
- Make sure you have what you need to succeed. Do you have the groceries you need to start cooking healthy dinners? Is your workspace organized for your days at home? Do you have a clear space for your workouts?
- Track your progress. I like writing out a daily agenda that includes my scheduled tasks so that I can cross them off as I complete them.
- Make it fun and relaxing. Download a new audiobook to listen to while you cook. Work out with a quarantine buddy, either in your household or virtually (or, hey, join one of our Zoom classes!).
- Re-evaluate after a week or two. Is your new routine working for you, or do you need to adjust it in some way?
Try this out for a bit and see how it works for you, and if you find it easier to stick with your healthy habits once you’re back in a routine.
And stay tuned for the next part of our “Avoid the Quarantine 15” series, when we discuss setting up your home environment for success.