We talk a lot about the negative effects of the build-up of stress at Kàn Studio, but how do we manage stress daily so we don’t get to the point where it feels unmanageable? Routines help prioritize what is important and ensure that these basic tasks are accomplished daily. Focusing on things that you can control helps with unpredictable change, creating healthy habits, and reducing stress. Like many others, my days took a 180 turn when California went into lock-down during the COVID-19 pandemic. Having a few healthy habits scattered throughout the day really helped with lowering my level of distress when there was so much uncertainty happening.
Routines that work for me
Waking up at the same time everyday
To have enough time for myself in the mornings, I typically wake up around 7am everyday. Not being rushed in the mornings puts me in a calm ready-to-tackle-the-day mindset. The task is as simple as not pressing snooze and actually getting out of bed when the alarm goes off. I find the most annoyingly obnoxious alarm that makes me think twice before pressing snooze.
Move my body even if it’s only for 15 minutes
Being 9 months pregnant makes it a little hard to have a consistent workout routine. I don't have the energy to do many of the activities I used to enjoy. Many mornings I wake up very sluggish and cranky from the lack of good sleep the night before (thank you pregnancy insomnia). Those are the days when it’s the most important to move my body. I find that even 15 minutes of stretching puts me in an accomplished mindset and don't necessarily need an intense workout everyday. The day just started and I already finished my first goal!
Have breakfast with my husband
Although we both work from home, we have wildly different schedules (I’m a morning lark and he’s a night owl) and it’s important for me to spend a few extra minutes with my husband in the mornings. During breakfast, we discuss what our day looks like and anything out of the ordinary that we’re feeling. This is our way of understanding what we can expect from one another that day and how we can manage the workday together. If he didn’t sleep well last night, has a full day of intense work or meetings I will be a little kinder and understanding to him on that particular day.
Afternoon tea time
I grew up having afternoon tea with my mom everyday. It was our time to take a break, have a light snack, and catch up with one another on how the day is going. Since working from home, I’ve restarted this tradition with my husband. Even though we’re both home, we rarely see each other during the day. Come 3 pm we both take a small break to check in with one another. This is especially important when we’re so fatigued from being on Zoom calls all day. It’s the equivalent of stopping by a co-worker’s desk to catch up.
Walk my dog
I am forever grateful to have gotten my dog right before the pandemic started. She has helped me manage my mental health during the stressful period. Having her around forced me to go on evening strolls and got me out of the house. If it wasn’t for her, I would probably not leave the house for days at a time. Walking her at a consistent time everyday signaled my brain to start winding down from the workday. It became a great way to establish work-home boundaries and to switch off for the day. Without this consistent routine I would have difficulty finding a healthy work-life balance.
Start my night time routine at the same time everyday
I always take off my make-up before bed. Not only does my skin feel better after washing off all the dirt and grime from the day, but I use this time to start calming my mind to get ready for bed. There’s something relaxing about closing my eyes and doing a quick facial massage in the evenings. I don’t like spending too much time over the sink so through the years I’ve curated products that work and get the job done without all the extra frills.
Read for 15 minutes before bed
Reading has always been a great way for me to unwind and relax, but it’s often difficult to carve out an hour to read without any distractions. One of the routines I’ve started doing is reading 15 minutes a day. I’ve discovered a few benefits of reading before bed: 1) It relaxes my mind and allows me disconnect from the activities of the day 2) I’m putting my phone away earlier and limiting my exposure to brain stimulation and blue light and 3) I’m reading more now than ever before
Sleep around the same time everyday
Having a specific bedtime is almost like setting a goal for myself everyday. My bedtime is my cut-off to stop working. I’ve already had all day to try to accomplish my tasks and anything that does not get completed that day must not have been a priority for me and can be pushed off until tomorrow. It allows me to re-prioritize daily and helps change my mindset from “I didn’t have enough time to finish my tasks” to “This wasn’t important enough for me to do today”.