The whole world is grounded due to the Coronavirus. Indefinite home office and social distancing make it tough to keep a sense of structure, connection and any normalcy whatsoever.
Days become blurry. And, if you're living by yourself (like me), pretty lonely. This can take a serious toll on anyone's mental health. Especially if you've been dealing with anxiety or depression already. My heart goes out to you. You are not alone.
TBH, my first schedule was a disaster...
Today, I am not sharing the schedule that I made for myself on day one of quarantine because, well, it was insane. Allow me to go off on a tangent for just a minute because I think you might need to hear this.
Going into this quarantine, I felt like I needed to make the most of this time. Everyone on the gram seemed to be doing three live workouts a day, cooking elaborate healthy meals and starting five new projects and hobbies.
I figured, with all this extra time on hand, I had no excuses not to get into the best shape ever and be super productive.
So I totally overdid it.
I made a schedule with two workouts a day, plus walks, plus blogging, meditating and doing all the things I said I wanted to do more regularly in the past.
Well, half a week in, I was over it. I felt exhausted. I was overwhelmed by the news and the uncertainty of this unprecedented situation. I felt pressured by everyone else's ambitiousness.
I thought: "How am I failing at quarantine?! It can't be that hard. I must just be lazy."
If you feel that way too sometimes, let me tell you: There is no such thing as being a bad quarantiner.
We are all emotionally drained, even if we don't realize it.
I went outside for a walk and to clear my head when people suddenly started clapping and cheering from their balconies. It was 7 p.mm , the time when people in Berlin clap for the health care workers, cashiers and everyone who still shows up for work.
Much to my surprise, I instantly started crying. I was not expecting that kind of emotional reaction. But it made me realize how much more more affected by the situation I was than I had thought.
Even though the worst-case scenario hasn't fully kicked in yet, the world is collectively experiencing fear, uncertainty and grief. There are so many emotions to be felt right now. And especially if you are ignoring them to get through the day, they are lingering and depleting your energy beneath the surface.
But you know what, that's okay! This is a historic event. Of course we are affected by it. Cut yourself some slack and be patient and kind to yourself.
You don't have to become your best self during a pandemic.
You just don't. If some Instagram accounts make you feel otherwise, hit the magic unfollow button right now.
So I made a new schedule.
A schedule that supports your emotional health:
One that focuses on supporting our emotional wellbeing, keeps us grounded and makes us feel good about ourselves. It includes my favorite routines to keep my mental health in check, prioritize self-care and maintain a strong and healthy body.
It might feel a very obvious but trust me, it is very easy to forget about the little things when leaving the house and facing people is not required of you anymore.
Also, checking off little things throughout the day makes me feel good about myself. And that's the feeling we want, right?
So here it is: my new and improved quarantine schedule. I hope you'll find it useful. You can download the free printable PDF below.
(No spam – elbow promise.)
Scroll down for explanations on how to use the schedule.
How to Use The Quarantine Schedule
Print it out or save it on your phone
Use as daily reminder
Note: the size of each block does not represent the duration of it! It simply shows the order in which I do those activities.
The included workouts are clickable links to free videos! I tried them all before and loved them. Chose one or all of the daily suggested workouts. Some days I feel like a lot of movement keeps me sane, other days I just stretch it out and go for a work. Trust your instincts and do what makes you feel good.
YOUR DAILY GOAL: Make Yourself Feel Good
1. Treat Yourself
If you struggle to get out of bed, you need something to look forward to. Start your day with a treat. Something that makes you want to get up. For me, caffeine is usually enough of a pull for me. So I make myself a coffee (or matcha/tumeric latte) and drink it in bed because, let's be honest, there is no rush these days and most of us work from home.
You could also prepare a nice breakfast like chia pudding or banana bread for yourself the night before.
I don't open social media or read any news just yet. That's really hard but super important for my mental health. Instead I take a moment to sit with my thoughts, check in with myself and set the energetic tone of the day instead of instantly taking on the energy of the internet.
2. Pull out Your Journal
I recently started doing morning pages. I just write down everything that is on my mind that morning until I have filled three (small) pages. Try it! You'll be surprised by the amount of thoughts and feelings that will present themselves that you weren't aware of before.
Free flow journaling is a great way to clear your mind. I feel more focused, calm and productive after. You'll also gain some insights into your own psyche and thought patterns. This book got me into morning pages.
If you want to take a more creative approach, the morning is also an amazing time for that. Your logic mind hasn't fully taken control yet as you just came out of a dream state. Every few days I use this time to write poems or work on short stories and essays.
Creating some form of art, even if it never sees the light of day, can give you a great sense of purpose during these rather bland days.
3. Visualize and set an Intention for the day
The key to staying happy and healthy these days is to keep your energy up and positive even though you are deprived of most of the things that usually make you excited about life. Like meeting people, going outside, taking classes, and – I have to admit – even taking the dreaded subway to work seems quite exciting to me now. Strange times.
Especially if you are into personal development and working on goals at the moment, you'll like these two steps. But feel free to skip them if they overwhelm you.
Why this is so important and beneficial:
The Coronavirus coverage in the news has us all on edge. We feel like this pandemic is coming at us full force and all we can do is to watch it happen. This naturally puts us in a fearful, reactive state and into victim mode. Not great energetically.
Here's what you can control: your energy and your thoughts.
Step 1: Set an intention for your day
Energy flows where attention goes. And you can focus your attention on whatever you chose - the negative or the positive. When left to its own devices, our mind often gets caught up in negative thoughts or worries.
Step 2: Visualize - Why should you do it?
Visualization is a form of active meditation. It primes your mind for the future that you want to create for yourself. Painting a picture in your head is powerful stuff. Scientists believe that we may experience real-world and imaginary actions in similar ways. Whether you run a marathon or only picture it in detail, you activate many of the same neural pathways. In studies, athletes were able to improve their performance by practicing moves in their mind.
So why not use this to your advantage by visualizing yourself feeling amazing, heading into a bright and happy future and crushing your goals? That certainly puts me in a good mood and increases my motivation to make the most of the day ahead.
Still sceptic that your thoughts are that powerful? Remember the last time you experienced stress-induced anxiety? The thought about something bad happening made your body increase your heart rate, breathing, and blood pressure.
Have fun with this. Think about it as if you were crafting a vision board in your head every day. Whether you do it for one minute or turn it into a full ten-minute visualization meditation, you will feel empowered. The more detailed you visualize, the better. You can smell essential oils (I love orange for mood boosting) and listen to some binaural beats to create a more immerse, multi-sensory experience.
I linked some guided visualization but I encourage you to guide yourself to be very specific about your personal situation and goals. Have fun with it!
4. Check in With Someone
Send a text to a friend or family member or give them a quick call. When we work from home, we miss the little interactions with people in the office or on the subway. So make sure to talk to an actual human to create a sense of connection in the morning.
5. Move Your Body
I don't think I have to tell you how much better your day will be if you get your heart pumping and blood flowing in the morning. Movement is medicine.
I highly recommend to exercise in the morning. You'll get the most benefits out of it. Don't put your workout off to later in the day because you think, now that you are home all day, you can work out at any time. The chance for excuses and work (or kids, roommates, significant others) getting in the way just increase exponentially as the day unfolds.
Also, you want to continue to shower and get ready – despite the home office situation. Sweating in the a.m. just makes sense. Just do it. Just 15 minutes are enough. I linked some Yoga and HIIIT workout for you for inspiration.
5. Get Ready and eat a Nourishing Breakfast
The icons are just a quick reminder to do whatever you need to feel like a human living a normal life. Like showering and putting on clothes. To be honest, I don't wear the same clothes I would wear to the office. I take full advantage of leggings and gym wear. It's comfortable! Just don't wear pajamas or sweat pants. Chose nice home wear. And don't forget to eat a nourishing breakfast with some healthy fats like nuts, seeds, avocado, olive oil etc. for your brain and mood!
6. Get to Work
I'll go ahead and assume that you know what to do here...
7. Do a Social Lunch and/or go for a Walk
While my meals tend to become one constant snack parade in home office, I encourage you to stick to regular meal times and take a proper lunch break. Meeting coworkers for a shared video call plus lunch is a great way to stay social and feel connected.
Getting outside for a moment after your lunch also helps set the break apart from the rest of the workday and zone out for a moment. I like to finish my lunch break with a short walk around the block to not sit all day. Plus, fresh air and vitamin D will boost your mood and lower your stress level.
8. Back to Work...
You know the drill.
9. Transition out of Work Mode
You did it. Work is done. Normally, you would have a commute home to ease out of work and into relax mode (unless you work from home anyways). These day, we need to create our own transitions and changes of scenery. Maybe go for another walk or bike ride? There is no such thing as too many outdoor breaks. Or do a short workout or stretching routine. I have linked some options in the calendar.
10. Enjoy Your Dinner
Make yourself a nice, comforting meal without thinking about calories.
10. Time to Have Some Fun
Just because you can't go out into the world doesn't mean you can't bring the world to you. Well, kind of, right?