The Importance of Routines During Times of Uncertainty

COVID-19 has disrupted our normal lives. And while we can't control the pandemic, we CAN control our own actions. Continuing to follow a "normal" routine is the best way to stay on track with our health and nutrition when life throws us a curveball.

Here is Coach Melissa sharing her thoughts on maintaining a routine during times of uncertainty!

Generally speaking, humans are creatures of habit. We create certain routines or systems that allow us to thrive in productivity and efficiency whether it be completing projects for work, getting ourselves ready for the day, or methodically navigating the grocery store to spend the least amount of time on each aisle while also getting everything that we need.

Unfortunately, when something disrupts that routine, life often becomes a free-for-all for survival. And before COVID-19 came in like a wrecking ball, these routines assisted in fitting workouts and nutritious meals into incredibly busy schedules.

Let’s take my routine for example. Every night after dinner, I would pack leftovers for lunch, a few snacks, and have everything ready for my morning smoothie. I would place my water bottle on the edge of the counter to remind myself to fill it in the morning. Then, I would pack my gym bag and put it in the car so I would have no excuse to miss a workout.  In the morning, I would allow myself one “snooze.” Then I’d get out of bed to make coffee, blend my smoothie, and race off to work.

This system allowed for ample efficiency with time, created little reminders for goals (drink water and hit those macro numbers), and removed all excuses to exercise.

But then the gym closed, local businesses shut down, parks couldn’t allow visitors, and walking through the grocery store felt like the Apocalypse.

So how do we stay motivated? How do we navigate these waters with no foreseeable end in sight? How do we recreate these systems and routines to help get back in the groove?

Follow a routine

Just like the one you used to have. Set that alarm and don’t allow yourself to hit snooze over and over again. Give yourself time to get up and get ready for the day. Change your clothes to get out of the fog of doing a meeting via Zoom in your pajama pants. Have lunch and your snacks at the times you normally would, and complete your exercise routine at your normally scheduled time. Accustomed to eating lunch at 11:30? Then eat! Love getting to the gym for the 5pm class? Start warming up at 4:45pm.

Maintain a normal sleep schedule

This will allow your brain and body to function optimally. Set a reminder 30 minutes prior to your desired bedtime to prep yourself: TV off, teeth brushed, put phone away, etc. Wake up at whatever time you normally would during the workweek so that it’s not so challenging once we get back to life as we knew it. (Pro tip: If you have an iPhone, utilize “Sleep Mode” in your alarm clock settings.)

Set small daily goals

In our last post, we talked about the importance of small wins. This will allow you to continue making progress in your health and wellness.

  • Drink 36 oz of water by noon
  • Complete 100 push-ups throughout the day
  • If you have a job that keeps you at a desk, set a timer to get up and move for the last 10 minutes of every hour 
  • Try a new cooking method or new food once per week

So, we have an idea of what we need to do, but how can we put this into practice to make it functional for the time being?

Ask yourself some questions:

What’s important to you right now? 

Is binge-watching Schitt’s Creek more important than taking care of those extra 5 lbs you’ve recently gained? Is connecting with family more important than taking every method possible for avoiding any form of sickness? Take a few moments and see where your priorities are, then ask yourself:

  • Do my current actions line up with those priorities?
  • Am I putting effort into what I have identified as most important?

If so, you’re doing great! If not, let’s take a look at what was once working for you (your old routine) to see if there’s anything we can use to get you back to where you could be.

Ask yourself a few questions:

What was your pre-pandemic routine? 

And what can you take from this routine to help you succeed in this current phase of life? Did you always have rotisserie chicken on hand for a quick, high-protein snack? Then get yourself some chicken, friend! Did you love going to early morning yoga to start your day off with a good stretch? Then Power Flow, sister! There are a plethora of free online resources for workouts, no matter the type or intensity!

What routines do you need at this time? 

What if you laid out your workout clothes the night before? Prepped and packed your lunch even though you’re working from home? Created a workout space with or without equipment, but definitely with some killer jams in mind?

What are you currently doing that you can let go of? 

Maybe reserve television time for only after dinner, or stop picking up ice cream at the grocery store with the mindset of “I can work it off later.” When your alarm starts sounding, get up!

Wrapping this up: What would make physical activity, eating nutritious foods, getting restful sleep, and other personal priorities easier and more automatic?

  • Follow a daily schedule: Could consistent wake times, meal times, exercise times, meditation time, or bedtime provide you with the structure that you need to succeed?
  • Change your surroundings: What changes could you make to your kitchen, workout space, and other aspects of your physical environment? Could you alter your surroundings to encourage positive actions or minimize temptations?
  • Set reminders and milestones: How might setting alarms or checking off a to-do list make things easier?
  • Ask for support: Could you lean on your coach and others around you for motivation, accountability, and help? (Yes, of course!)
  • Get more out of your routines: How might you stack healthy habits on top of something you already do? For example, could you take work calls while going for a walk?

Besides helping you get back on track and be more consistent, the structure and familiarity of a routine can help you feel more grounded during a time of uncertainty.

This pandemic may have pushed us out of our comfort zones, but it doesn’t have to ruin everything we’ve worked so hard for. It’s up to us to take charge and create a new normal!


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