Tips for Finding Some Structure During a Pandemic

So it’s clear by now that we are living in unprecedented times; So how do we cope with our new ‘normal’? We’re working from home, spending WAY more time around our partners than we ever could have anticipated and are having limited social interactions. So how does all of this affect our mental health? This is certainly something I’ve been thinking about over the past week or so as we been social distancing and as a society trying to figure out how to move forward in these strange times.

Research shows that we are a social society-that we thrive in a community setting so what do we do when that is taken away from us? Okay, I feel like I’ve stalled enough. The truth is, I don’t have an answer but am writing this more as a thought piece; as a suggestion of how we can not only survive but thrive while in uncertainty.

So, what’s the first step? Don’t stop interacting with people! Just because we can’t see people physically doesn’t mean we have to cut off all lines of communication. Set up virtual happy hours with your friends, call or FaceTime your family. Now, more than ever it’s imperative that we don’t lose that connection especially during this period of isolation which can most certainly lead to depression.

Secondly, do your best to stay as close to your normal routine as possible. Now I know this one may be particularly difficult with new situations like working from home, longer than usual lines at the grocery store and gyms and studios around the Nation being closed but I’ve found that for me, having structure in my day allows me to focus, get more done and helps calm my anxiety during these uncertain times. So the first I have for this is have a solid Morning routine. I’ve talked about this in a previous blog post but feel that it bears repeating. What I suggest is start your day the way you normally would if you were going into the office. Get ready for the day (no working your pj’s! Okay, maybe on Friday’s). If you have a podcast that you listen to on your commute to work throw it on while you have your cup of coffee or tea in the Morning.

Related to working from home set up an area in your home or apartment that is conducive to you actually getting work done! I got this great tip from the podcast Tiny Leaps, Big Changes hosted by Gregg Clunis. So for example if you have limited space, set up your home office at your breakfast bar or dining table. Do your best to not work from your sofa or favorite lounge chair. Try to keep a degree of separation between your home work-station and the parts of your living space that are set up for lounging.

The last two points I wanted to touch on are closely related so I’ll group them together. With gyms and studios being closed it certainly poses a challenge to keeping up with our normal workout routines. So I wanted to offer some suggestions to do your best to stay on track at until they re-open. A great resource that I love is @achievefitnessboston. They have great content that requires no equipment and suitable for all fitness skill levels. Also, if the weather is nice get out outside and go for runs or walks while of course maintaining proper social distancing.

Now as far as diet and nutrition I’m not going to preach staying on track during these strange times (I mean, my diet the past 2 weeks has consisted of chicken nuggets, Doritos and cookies…yeah, not great) but do your best to eat as close to how you were before the pandemic. For instance, try to find frozen meat and veggies if fresh aren’t available. If you can’t find eggs, make oats and add peanut butter for protein. In closing, it’s truly the little things that add a sense of normalcy when everything seems so off kilter. During these times it’s more important than ever to focus on our mental health and do our best to understand that we are living in a new normal and that that means we have to adapt but that it’s okay when things don’t go as planned.



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