KEEPING A STRUCTURE
Updated: Aug 2, 2020
Since the COVID 19 pandemic started and staying home was mandated back in March 2020, every single day I reported to work. I went to my office Monday to Friday from eight thirty in the morning up to four thirty in the afternoon. The routine I had prior to the pandemic I maintained up to this day. I get up at six thirty in the morning, take a shower, get dressed and ready myself for work. Once in the office, I see my patients---although now done virtually, complete my charting and paperwork, review my schedule for the next day and head back home.
Once home, I may rest for an hour, then off to the kitchen I go to cook and prepare the family’s dinner. Instead of going to the gym (it closed in March as well due to the pandemic) I now do yoga or Pilates nightly to incorporate exercise and working out into my routine. So what it is basically, I kept my structure.
Staying home and sheltering in place has affected a lot of us in ways we never imagined. The most striking and common which most experience is the loss of structure or daily routine. Unexpectedly, we now find we have too much time on our hands with little to do, or not knowing what to do. Binge-watching on Netflix is not uncommon, staying up late until the wee hours of the morning has become the new norm, and so is starting one’s day way past in the afternoon.
WHAT IS STRUCTURE?
It is defined as the characteristic of being organized, to arrange, to orchestrate according to a plan or organization. While routine is a set program or system of actions followed regularly. Structure or routine, however we may call it, it's something we all had before the COVID-19 pandemic, before staying home and sheltering-in-place has become the new normal.
If there is one piece of advice that I give my patients nowadays, it is for them to slowly ease back into a structure or routine. Because when this is lost, the ability to stay at baseline functioning declines. When one loses structure, things built around it are affected--- sleep schedule, mealtimes, hygiene. Not waking up on time like you used to may mean missing that breakfast that you always looked forward to in the morning, or missing that early morning jog which always gave you the boost to keep you going throughout the day.
Priorities shift when structure is lost, and when that happens, stability in one’s physical, emotional and mental health may be compromised. Unfortunately, for those with a personal or family history of anxiety related illnesses or depression, there is a higher risk of experiencing another episode.
Sleeping too much, eating too much, lack of energy, loss of interest in things you used to enjoy, thinking too much and over analyzing things causing you to worry all the time? Are these brought about by staying home and sheltering-in place, or anxiety and depressive symptoms are starting to creep in? Know and acknowledge your symptoms. If you feel you are at a lost, or are in doubt, reach out and seek help. It is available.