Given the fact that during this time of social distancing my life has fallen apart and back together more times than I can count… No, seriously. I have experienced every human emotion possible. I have had productive days where I felt on top of the world and equipped to tackle infinite tasks as well as week-long periods of depression where I couldn’t even be bothered to get out of bed and engage in basic hygiene. And I do mean week-long.
Oh, right my point. My point is I have been riding this roller-coaster over and over like a child at an amusement park with permission to cut every single line, so I have learned a thing or two about prevention. Well, more like five. And I’m ready to share!
The key here is stopping and preventing yourself from falling apart before you actually can. It’s a lot easier to dig yourself out of a two-foot hole than a two-yard hole. When I say falling apart by the way, understand that I mean losing control of your life, in a sense. I am coming from my perspective of where my self-value and life satisfaction is a measure of my productivity and ability to seize the day (so let this be your disclaimer). To me, losing control is feeling like I can’t do (and am not doing) the things I need to do in order to be content. When I start to fall short of doing these things, I begin to enter this spiral of falling apart. Everything else just follows.
This is about how to get a handle on things so that they don’t get bad, and I’m not claiming that it’s foolproof. Or guaranteed to work every time. I am just claiming that I have noticed a pattern (in my various “falling aparts”) of when I am engaging in these behaviors, I’m a lot happier and on top of my sh*t.
- Set an alarm.
I know y’all don’t wanna hear it. Trust me, I know. But hear me out please and for the love of God set an alarm. Because if you are anything like me at all. Your normal 8am wake up time will turn into 2pm in a week’s time.
I’m not even saying to wake up earlier than you normally would or even to wake up at your normal time. Don’t set the alarm as an I-need-to-wake-up-at-this-time alarm, set it as an I-absolutely-cannot-sleep-past-11am-again-alarm. I have been setting alarms to act as a safety blanket so that I know I won’t sleep past a certain, ridiculous time. And it varies by day. For me personally, waking up really late in the day does a number on my satisfaction and outlook on my ability to tackle what the day has to offer. If I sleep in until noon, I feel like I missed out. So giving yourself a specific time cut-off that you need to be up and awake by is a kind of relaxed discipline to help stay on track. Your sleep schedule (or lack thereof) will thank you later.
And I’m not saying don’t give yourself days to sleep in and be lazy because those are important too! But this is a good habit to get into during this time.
- Make your bed. Right away.
It sounds dumb, but I’m serious. I cannot even begin to tell you how many times since mid-March my stupid ass has gotten up at like 10am, went to the kitchen to eat and watch Netflix, got tired, and went straight back to my room into my comfy bed and slept until 1pm. Seriously, I wish I was kidding.
And you wanna know what that means? That alarm you set? For nothing! You still slept in! It’s like you jumped one hurdle but got bested by the next obstacle. Sad.
And while making my bed does not guarantee for sure that my stupid ass won’t just go back to my room and fall asleep on top of my made-up comforter… the probability of me doing so (I have found) is significantly lower. So just make your damn bed.
- Practice good morning and nighttime habits.
This is where I’ve been struggling a bit. Partially because if I am sleeping in that late, it means I am probably going to bed at 3 or 4am. Which means time doesn’t exist. Morning and night do not exist. How can they? My morning takes place at 3pm!
But also because good habits are hard to form. You have to think too, for many of us, our entire lives have been disrupted. Seriously. The routines and consistency that we depend and rely on have disappeared. We are trying to navigate forming new and temporary ones during this time and it’s hard.
So this is going to require self-discipline and reflection. My particular challenge has been keeping up on my skincare routine both morning and night. I have been lazier than ever with it, and it’s showing in my skin. Getting that head start has helped me because I have noticed I feel less guilty doing my routine at 10am than I do at 2pm. Too late in the day, my brain almost feels like what’s the point because it’s almost time for nighttime skincare. Morning and night are truly the pillars that hold up the entire day.
This is honestly such a psychological thing and requires you to shift your focus on how fulfilling and rewarded you feel when you do things. I always feel a gazillion times better when I take care of myself! I’ve been keeping up lately and seeing both physical and mental rewards. So push yourself on this one, trust me.
- Set limits on indulgent things. Treat them like rewards.
You know what they say about work and play. Turns out I’ve been overestimating the play part. Whether it’s been me spending days doing nothing but rearranging my Animal Crossing: New Horizons island or binging an entire season of CW Legacies in a day, I received the most major (and metaphorical) slap in the face the other day. I checked my average screen time on my phone, and it was roughly 12 hours (between 10-14 hours).
12 hours! Are you f*cking kidding?! When I tell you that I have never been so disgusted…
I was already bad before quarantine. I could hit anywhere between 5-9 hours depending on the particular day. But 12. You mean to tell me that the majority of the time I spend conscious is spent staring at a four inch screen! You have got to be lying…
Sometimes those are the wake up calls we need though. The biggest change I made that has been working for me is to not immediately hit Netflix during breakfast time. That was a bad routine I got into and it would result in multiple episodes (and again wasting the beginning of my day) and to be honest, sometimes made my eyes tired enough to put me back in bed. Sensing a theme here yet?
Pushing Netflix to a later part of my day after I have completed a few tasks has been much more mentally rewarding and makes me feel better about my routine. I even got in the habit of watching with my laptop open while I engage in a low effort task like folding laundry or deleting pictures in my camera roll. Multitasking!
- Make to-do lists. Then remake them.
This one is tricky and is quite subjective. Lists are a way for me to visually organize my objectives, tasks, or just things I need to remember. Do I always cross every single thing off? No. Do I have days where I might as well have not even made a list because I didn’t do a damn thing on it? Absolutely.
But I find they help more often than not. Only if you let them though. The trick is formatting them in a way that works for you. Some people respond to a sticky note on the fridge. Some of us are planner people. And some like the convenience of storing it all in the notes on your phone and being able to add things at a moment’s notice. All of these are valid and can be effective! It’s just the trial-and-error of finding the method that works for you specifically.
Also be reasonable. If you put a million difficult things on there that there is absolutely no way you can accomplish them all in one day, you are only setting yourself up to fail. Then you’ve gone and made it a negative mental thing and are probably not going to respond well to another list. Don’t ask more of yourself than you are capable of giving. And if you have to push a couple things to tomorrow, that is perfectly fine. The best part about lists is that they can be a work-in-progress and adapt to and work for you!
These are just some of my more concrete tips that have helped me. I’ve also just noticed a negative effect on my life when I’m not doing them. All in all, it’s the mindset and the behaviors working together to bring you a sense of satisfaction in your lifestyle.
Let me know what you guys think and if you try anything I said. Also, comment below if you have any tips you’d like to share and don’t forget to follow me on Instagram @heyitsjessnicole.