In times of stress, routine is a life saver.
In times of stress, loss, and change, the most important coping skill is taking control of your time. You must establish a routine. Picture a fish out of water. That’s how a person feels in the midst of grief, loss, or any major life change. Without a plan they flip, flop, and ultimately flounder.
Regular sleep patterns are the foundation of routine. Establishing a regular sleep/wake cycle is easier said than done since we tend to be more restless sleepers when we are stressed. So, here are a few tips.
1. Turn off electronics one hour before bedtime. Experts tell us the blue light from electronics is a sleep disrupter.
2. Avoid alcohol and caffeine before bedtime.
3. A recommended bedtime snack would be a bowl of oats with milk and banana.
Even if you are waking in the night and having a problem getting back to sleep, still get out of bed at your predetermined time in the morning. If you need a nap during the day, make it a 20-minute power nap.
Eat your meals at regular times. Regular sleep and eating times help the body establish its circadian rhythm. Take control. Plan your dinner for the evening in the morning and your breakfast for the next day in the evening before you go to bed.
Plan some physical exercise into your day. Anyone can take a walk, or take the stairs, or park the car in the third row instead of the first row at the supermarket. Just make moving a priority.
Make a list of three things you’ll do tomorrow before you go to bed and then do them. Checking off your list helps provide the feeling of accomplishment. Make your bed first thing when you wake up. Start the day the way the Marines do with a job well done. Establish a regular day for changing the bed, doing laundry, and performing your cleaning chores.
Connect with people. Even if you can’t see them in person, just hearing the voice of someone else can help banish feelings of loneliness. Start or join a book club. Have a virtual lunch once a week or month with the guys or girls.
Repetition is what establishes regular habits. You’ll be tempted to abandon your new routine, but stick with it. If you fail at first, start over and try again.