How a checklist of daily routines can help you cope with coronavirus anxiety

It might feel good to sit around in your pajamas for a few days when self-isolating at home, but a Virginia mental health expert warns that over time it will begin to turn sour. She is encouraging people to stick to daily routines during the coronavirus pandemic.

“Humans really crave routine. We really love routine; it makes our life easier,” said Rachel Noble, director of Women’s Behavioral Health at the Inova Health System.

Disruptions of daily life associated with COVID-19 adjustments have forced people to rethink everything instead of enjoying the mental ease of being on autopilot performing daily routines.

“When we get in the rhythm of life of day — of eat, sleep, commute, work play — it frees up mental space for us to deal with larger concerns,” Noble said. “Concerns like dealing with work problems or relationship issues.”

A checklist of daily routines Noble believes you should consult and adhere to includes the following:

  • Wake up around the same time every day.
  • Brush teeth in the morning and evening.
  • Wash face in the morning and evening.
  • Take medications.
  • Shower regularly.
  • Be good to loved ones and pets.
  • Move your body regularly.
  • Eat a vegetable every day.
  • Drink lots of water.
  • Talk to a friend on the phone.
  • Cross one item off your to-do list.
  • Say aloud one thing for which you are grateful.

Print the list.

Noble encourages you to come up with your own checklist of things that are important to you. Make the items easy, really simple and very achievable.

Inova's Rachel Noble on why routines matter (WTOP Staff)

“This is not the time when you’re going to do 400 push-ups every day,” Noble said. “We’re talking about just saying ‘This is what I need to do to make me feel like a normal person today.'”

Creating, consulting and actually putting pen to paper on a checklist of routines can act as a daily assessment of how well you’re doing or whether you’re starting to struggle.

Some questions to ask yourself include the following:

  • Am I able to get out of bed and get cleaned up?
  • Am I able to manage my temper with my loved ones?
  • Am I actually sleeping normally?
  • Can I get through items on my to-do list?

The list can help you identify, for example, if the anxiety is getting to be too much, if your mood is starting to suffer or if what is happening is starting to have an adverse impact.

It’s important to recognize that you might need to reach out for help by talking with friends or a loved one, or by getting involved with an online support system or local mental health experts.

“Just know that support might not look like it looked two months ago, but it’s definitely still there for you, so make sure that you reach out for it if you feel like you need it,” Noble said.

You can find more about Inova’s Behavioral Health Services on its website.

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Kristi King

Kristi King is a veteran reporter who has been working in the WTOP newsroom since 1990. She covers everything from breaking news to consumer concerns and the latest medical developments.

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