Complying with social distancing and safer-at-home guidelines can be mentally exhausting. Even though I provided tips in a previous column on how to stay active while being isolated, it can be tough to find the motivation to focus on personal wellness during a time of uncertainty. I admit it has become a struggle for me, too.
My daily schedule used to be consumed with driving between gyms to teach group fitness classes, going into the office for my full-time job and visiting out-of-town family on the weekends.
Now that all of my work and communication revolves around a screen and I complete a majority of my tasks under one roof, my sense of normalcy has completely derailed.
I found that bringing order to my daily routine and to my living space was needed to rid this feeling of increased chaos. Organizing our time, belongings and environment can help lower stress, contribute to stabilizing mental health and spark inspiration.
Here are some tips on how you can keep order of the things you can control during a time of turmoil:
• Create checklists: Trying to manage household chores, virtual meetings, kids’ online homework assignments and any other personal tasks can become overwhelming. Write out a daily plan of action and prioritize your to-do lists based on importance and deadlines. Try not to spend too much time creating these lists of actions and only jot down daily achievable tasks. Also, keep lists in a place where you can refer to them quickly. Crossing out each action as you do them instills accomplishment.
• Set a schedule and stick to it: Scheduling blocks of time for daily duties can be challenging — especially if you’re unsure how long each task will take to complete. Again, write it out and give yourself deadlines to help you stay on track. Some projects may take longer than one day to do, so plan for it. Try to avoid procrastination or trying to do everything in one day, so you don’t feel overwhelmed.
• Purge: If you’re surrounded by lots of frivolous stuff, it can make you feel claustrophobic. Go room by room and get rid of stuff that you are no longer using. A good rule of thumb is if you haven’t used an item within the past year, you most likely won’t use it again. Donate clothes that no longer fit; sell unused furniture and home decor; and shred old billing statements and junk mail. Purging can help lift that unwanted weight that’s been sitting on your shoulders.
• Organize: Closets and garages are hot spots for constant clutter. It’s easy to throw an item in these storage areas and just close the door. After purging, organize your most-used items in labeled bins to make them easily accessible when they’re needed. Organizing can become time-consuming so start making a habit of putting stuff away immediately after use.
• Give rooms or outdoor spaces a face-lift: Constantly staring at the walls can give you cabin fever and make you go stir-crazy. Rearranging the furniture layout, adding curtains, giving walls a fresh coat of paint or planting a small garden will provide variety to your environment and a change of scenery. If you’re fortunate enough to have the budget and time to do major home renovations, go for it. Completing home improvement projects is a great way to invest in your home while also keeping your body active and your mind sharp.
• Turn off notifications and alerts: If you’re not on call or if your job allows you to have real weekends, this is the time to disconnect. Establishing virtual boundaries and limits between work and home life allows you to take a mental break and provides clear separation between all aspects of your lifestyle. Don’t forget to go outside for some fresh air, but leave your phone inside.
Swearngin has worked in the health and wellness industry since 2009.