“What day is it again?”
It is hard to believe that we have remained under lock and key since early March. For most of us, days have turned into weeks, which have turned into long, monotonous months of unstructured routine and Netflix bingeing (I would be lying if I said I hadn’t spent much of my quarantine in pajama pants and yesterday’s hairstyle). As our days continue to blur together, here are a few ways to breathe some normalcy back into your everyday routine while improving your overall mental health, motivation, and well-being.
1. Create a morning routine.
During the pandemic, it can be tempting to forego wearing anything other than sweatpants and a comfy, oversized sweatshirt; after all, your professor only sees the top-half of you over Zoom, right? While it is easy to fall into a pattern of fuzzy socks and pajama sets, try your best to dress in everyday wear. Simultaneously, make sure you are following general hygiene practices: brush your hair, wash your face, and take a shower. By getting ready for the day ahead, you bring about a sense of normalcy otherwise overlooked in our everyday routine. You will undoubtedly feel more confident, fresh, and ready to tackle the day.
2. Make a to-do list.
After getting dressed, try to write down a list of objectives that you hope to accomplish. Ideally, your plan should fit on a single post-it note, containing about five to seven objectives; it is important to recognize which tasks require your immediate attention, and which projects can be addressed at another time. Too often, it is easy to pour hours of our time and energy into academics because no other tasks present themselves. Unfortunately, this can be mentally draining and counter-productive. By crossing off smaller agenda items, you will feel more accomplished, having maximized your time rather than feeling discouraged by an endless, daunting list of to-dos. Remember to give yourself breaks and ease up on yourself-- we are still living in the middle of a pandemic!
3. Dedicate time to exercise or get outside.
Make sure to designate outdoor time every day--whether that means going for a run, following an at-home workout, or simply walking along hiking trails nearby. Exercise not only improves your mental health and overall mood, but contributes to stronger immune function, better sleep, and mental clarity. We can all agree that it is hard to appreciate nature from your window; try your best to get outside and feel the sun on your face. By getting up and out of your chair (or bed!), you will feel more positive and motivated for the day ahead.
4. Cut out time for creativity.
As I am sure we have all discovered, it is easy to fall down the Netflix rabbit hole; rather than binge seven episodes of your favorite television show, try to redirect your energy towards more creative outlets. It is important to express yourself, whether through drawing, painting, journaling, writing, photography, or documentation. Through various media, we might better navigate the emotions and environments that we are currently experiencing.
5. Find ways to spend time with friends.
Depending on various rules, regulations, and comfort levels, you may try to plan activities with friends, whether that is grabbing a coffee at Fojo Beans or setting up a picnic dinner outside. If meeting in-person is not an option, plan to FaceTime a friend during a meal or break in your study plans. We are inherently social creatures, and it is more important than ever to retain those meaningful connections.
6. Spend time practicing self-care.
Most importantly, remember to relax! Don’t be afraid to grab the bath bombs/face masks from the top bathroom shelf and unwind with a good book, film, or television series. If you’re feeling extra fancy, don’t be afraid to indulge in your favorite dessert or make a cup of tea/hot chocolate. We are living in unprecedented times… you deserve it!