Things have been just a tad stressful lately, wouldn’t you say? Seems a certain pandemic has wreaked havoc on our lives, and so many things just aren’t the same. That includes our personal rhythms and routines. And here are 11 ways we can minimize damage…
Get up at the same time every day. A regular wake time is the most important input for stabilizing your body clock.
In that regard, our context is going to be a manifestation of social distancing and shelter-in-place practices. I think you’ll find the info relevant and helpful…
Our Body Clock
Browsing around the web I found a great “please circulate freely” handout I’d like to summarize. Written with the pandemic in mind, it very nicely details self-management strategies for increasing the regularity of daily routines. A big thank you goes out to the International Society for Bipolar Disorders.
As I’m sure you know, one of the most important brain systems that contributes to our well-being is our body (biological) clock. That precious timekeeper is huge because it synchronizes our body and behavior with the 24-hour cycle of light and dark.
Let’s always keep in mind that predictable daily schedules and regular routines help to keep our body clock running smoothly. And when that’s happening we feel better. Fact is, disrupted body clocks are associated with all sorts of unpleasant circumstances – depression, anxiety, diabetes, obesity, and cancer, to name a few.
I don’t think it would be a news flash if I observed that if we’re dealing with a mood or anxiety disorder, it’s likely we have a sensitive body clock. That means it’s more prone to losing track of time when our environment is disturbed. Could even lead to spikes in mood and anxiety episodes.
Do I need to say more? Mood and anxiety disorder sufferers really need to pay attention to routines, keeping our body clocks happy, during highly stressful times.
11 Ways to Manage Your Body Clock During Stressful Times
The gang at the International Society for Bipolar Disorders came up with some easy tips for improving the regularity of our daily routines. And they emphasize – even when nothing about our lives feels at all regular.
This is really good stuff, people. But it’s only as good as its practice. Give these some serious thought.
Here we go…
- Set up a routine. They help stabilize body clocks.
- Get up at the same time every day. A regular wake time is the most important input for stabilizing your body clock.
- Make sure you spend time outdoors every day, especially in the early morning. Your body clock needs to “see” light in the morning to know “when” it is.
- If you can’t go outside try to spend at least two hours next to a window, looking into the daylight, and focusing on being calm.
- Set times for a few regular activities each day such as home tutoring, telephone calls with a friend, or cooking. Do these activities at the same time each day.
- Exercise every day, ideally at the same time.
- Eat meals at the same time every day. If you’re not hungry, at least eat a small snack at the prescribed time.
- Social interactions are important, even during social distancing. Seek out “back and forth” social interactions where you share thoughts and feelings with another person in real-time. Videoconferencing, telephone, or even real-time text-messaging is preferred to scrolling through messages. Schedule these interactions at the same time every day.
- Avoid naps during daylight hours, especially later in the day. If you must nap, restrict them to 30 minutes. Napping makes it hard to fall asleep at night.
- Avoid bright light (especially blue light) in the evening. This includes computer screens and smartphones. Blue spectrum light suppresses melatonin, the hormone that helps us sleep.
- Stick to a consistent sleep and wake time that fits your natural rhythms. If you are a night owl, it’s okay to stay up a little bit later and get up a little bit later than others in the household. Just make sure you go to sleep and get up at the same time every day.
That’s All Folks
No doubt, we’re in the midst of trying times and stress levels are running high. If you’re a mood or anxiety disorder sufferer I’m thinking you know you’ll be somehow vulnerable. And struggling with rhythm and routine is right there at the top of the challenge list.
Let’s use our personal insight – anticipation skills – wisely. In this case, how ’bout we put the tips into action?
Hey, be sure to snoop around the International Society for Bipolar Disorders site.
If you’re longing for community, hop on over to the private Chipur Facebook group and join us.
Are you looking for some worthy reading while you’re hanging at home? Hundreds of Chipur articles are waiting for you.