This time of COVID-19 has thrown us all for a loop.  Parents have become home-schooling teachers.  Day-to-day norms have all radically changed.  And so, we have to strive to accomplish a “new normal.”  Routines provide stability and continuity in family life during times of stress, because: they facilitate a sense of control, protect well-being, help with work-life balance, and support people maintaining a sense of identity when self-defining activities have been stripped away.  Below are some tips regarding important routines to during this time.

Sleep:  Adults need 7-8 hours and adolescents/younger adults need 9-10.  Younger kids need more.  It is easy to let a consistent bedtime routine fade away, but don’t.  Keep a consistent wake-up time so that the occasional late night doesn’t throw your circadian rhythm out of whack.  This also means getting some exposure to sunlight, especially early in the day.  This is crucial for maintaining physical and mental health.  In fact, did you know that curing insomnia makes recovery from depression twice as likely!

Exercise:  Find a way to exercise daily, ideally in way that is both practical enough and fun. Morning might be most practical, afternoon is when levels of testosterone and cortisol in the body may be optimal (exercising outdoors in sunlight can have added benefits), and evening may be practical but has potential to interfere with sleep.  Figure out what works for you during this time and do it consistently.

Meals:  Not only do you want to continue eating as healthy as possible during this time to keep your immunity high, you may want to maintain (or start) new meal-time rituals.  For instance, research shows that when children lacking positive emotions, express something they’re grateful for, they experience significantly more positive affect!

Screen-time:  With more time on your hands, you may be drawn towards screens.  Prioritize connection with whom you’re with.  At the same time, while social-distancing, screens (used the right way) can maintain needed connection.  Rather than texting, or using social media, try to regularly connect with friends and loved ones by speaking on the phone or using video-calls.  One study with mothers/daughters showed that oxytocin (the closeness hormone) elevated during calls but not texts.