The Benefits of Routine in Times of Chaos

By Anthony Faiano, MRT

In times of chaos there is an inherent feeling of losing control. The COVID-19 pandemic has taken much of our daily schedule away from us and replaced it with "stay at home in the name of public safety." With schools closing and jobs either being worked from home or going away for the enforceable future, this has been more than just the feeling of losing control for some. This is a concrete loss of control. When we lose control is some areas of our lives, it can seem like we have lost control of all of the areas of our lives, and that is simply not true. To put it into perspective, we are still responsible for our own well-being and those we care for, such as kids or elderly parents. The way to successfully navigate through this time of restriction and change is routine. Even if you aren't a big routine person, having a routine could be the most important thing you can do to regain control, make improvements, and come out of this as the best version of yourself.

Photo by Kyle Glenn

As we already mentioned, the restrictions that come with a national or world-wide emergency can give of a feeling that life is losing control. Creating a routine allows you to ensure you do things daily that satisfy your mental, emotional, and physical well-being. Some things people are doing to control their focus are allotting time for physical activity, reading, socializing, rest, and work. The important thing to keep in mind is that you want to keep from one bleeding into the other. You don't want work to invade the time you're using to rest. Create healthy boundaries. As you construct a routine that works for you, you may find that taking things out of your daily routine can help as well. For example, maybe you stayed informed by consuming the news, but at this time that amount of news might cause an increase in negative emotions, so it might be best to put it to the side or only consume local news. Building your routine is essential for focusing on what you can control, staying in the present, and the next step toward success is adjusting that routine.

You routine is the foundation of your daily activity and allows you to pinpoint the things that aren't benefiting you. Adjusting your routine that you've created is how you can make the most of this adversity. Being honest about how you feel is extremely important in this process. Many people who had established a routine early on had some things in their routine that were counter productive. For example, many people allowed themselves to have a few drinks in their routine. Admittedly, it reduces stress and passes time, but done consistently it will have a negative effect on daily life. No matter what, even light drinking will have you not feeling your best. Over time, it could allow unnecessary and useless feelings of stress and anxiety in. This is something that would need to be adjusted so that you can feel your best. Some people have been used to working out in groups or at gyms have had to find ways to do so at home. These people may need to adjust their workouts so that they are getting the same level of benefit as before. Adjustments in diet are common as well during this time. As we find ourselves home all day, there is a tendency to constantly snack. We make adjustments because we want our routines to help us gain control, and to catapult us into becoming our best self. This can be done and it can be done regardless of circumstances.

It might seem odd to some people to tell them that a pandemic can be the reason they become the best version of themselves, but life is always what you make of it. What is happening now is that many distractions and things that were making us miserable have been put on hold. If you've lost a job, you have a chance to examine just what that job meant to you in terms of personal satisfaction. If you've been too busy to really spend time with your kids, you now have a chance to connect with them on a deeper level. If you've fallen into unhealthy eating patterns, this is a chance to take control make healthy food at home. For some of us, the world has stood still. We are left with our reflection in the mirror. It is time to consider this life of yours that has been put on hold and decide whether that is the life you want to step back into eventually or build a new one. If you refine your habits and create a feeling of well-being by becoming more rested, physically stronger, and mentally clear, then you are taking advantage of this time in a productive way. When it's time to resume life as we once knew it, you can have a new perspective, drive, and level of resilience. These things won't happen on accident. They will only happen because your focus, habits, and mindset were all pointed at one goal, becoming the best version of yourself and you finally had time to define and execute it.

As we look at what all of this means to us, I am driving home the point that we can take our mindset to the next level. Many people had goals before all of this, while living a life of comfort. We lived in a world where we knew, without a doubt, that there was food and necessities in the grocery stores, we could see our friends and family any time, and in order to lose our job we'd have to quit. At the moment, that reality has shifted. We need to shift as well. The best way to do so is to do it deliberately. Create a plan. Carry it out. Make adjustments. By the end of all of this I hope you look in the mirror and can say that this was the time where you were given a choice and you used it to become resilient and thrive in the face of chaos.

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