Organizing Your Time — March 27
Have you ever said to yourself, “If I had more time I would…?” Or have your ever thought, “Someday, I’ll…?” Dreaming about the future and wishing for things in life is perfectly natural. In fact, our psychological research tells us that optimism and future-focusing are healthy traits. Optimism can be thought of as realistic hopefulness. It can also be viewed as having expectations of successful outcomes. Future-focusing means we can see beyond the past and this moment, and are able to create a vision of the future. I like to think of it as. “the past has passed, the present is me in this exact moment, and the future is filled with possibilities that await my choices.” The choices I make and the behaviors I do will give me a sense of control of my future. Even when things are difficult and uncertain, making choices about how we will manage can make the difference between feeling in control or out of control. Another way to think of this is to think of feeling powerful. You know, like a superhero!
Be Your Own Superhero
Superheroes have to deal with a lot of danger and uncertainty. They usually win. And that’s because they are powerful. They keep moving forward even though things are difficult. They use their strengths and resources to solve problems. We humans don’t need special powers to do this. We just need to realize that we have strengths and resources. We need to recognize that we’ve coped with difficulties before and will do so again. We need to trust in ourselves and our resiliency. We need to ask for help when we need it. We need to remember that there is a future and our healthy choices today will make us more powerful. And let’s face it, we all want to feel more powerful – in a good way, like a superhero!
We are in a difficult and uncertain time. However, we still have power over many of the hours in our day and how we use them. We may even be able to start to do some of the things that complete the statements “If I had more time I would…? and “Someday, I’ll…”. We all have 24 hours in a day. Even if we can’t control all of those hours, we can choose our attitude and sense of optimism. Even if we feel uncertain or fearful, we can make choices to do healthy behaviors and think healthy thoughts to reduce the intensity and severity of that uncertainty and fear.
Powerful Tip — Make a Schedule
One of the things we can do that will help us feel more powerful in each 24-hour day is to make a daily schedule. It sounds so very simple: Make A Schedule. Yet, many of us let the day go by without intentional behavior. This is more likely when things are uncertain. Our motivation lessens and we feel helpless. Then we give in to those feelings, and before we know it, hours have gone by without anything enjoyable or purposeful. That cycle continues, and we can begin to feel mildly depressed. We can do something to prevent and change this cycle. We have power to change this cycle! The power comes from our behavior. Behavior is what we do. We can feel unmotivated and depressed while we get up and go for a walk. We can feel uncertain and fearful as we make ourselves a healthy snack. As we do behaviors that are good for us, we begin to feel some relief. As we feel relief, we continue to do behaviors that are good for us, and our day begins to have purpose. Our mood begins to improve, and we feel motivated to do more. We have used our own power to feel more powerful.
So, how do we make a daily schedule?
First, make a list of the things you have to do in a day. For example, work hours, personal hygiene, sleep, meals. Next, make a list of the things that support your health and wellbeing. For example, exercise, relaxation, social contact, learning something new, hobbies/interests, time in nature/fresh air, cleaning your home or car, etc. Then, use a calendar with half-hour increments to fill-in these activities. Start with the “have-tos” and then add from the second list. Also include open time – 15-20 minutes that is unscheduled at various times. It’s important that we have time to rest and reset between some of our activities in the day.
Although we may have restrictions like a Stay-at-Home order or the closing of some our usual hangouts, we still have a lot of power over our day. Following are ideas to get you started with some of the categories listed above. Be creative in your pursuit of a schedule that supports your health and wellbeing. Each day may be different and altogether they add up to a healthy lifestyle. Optimistic, Future-Focused, Powerful!
Where You Can Focus
Follow your employment schedule. If you need to work but don’t have a set schedule, make one. Create a space in your home where you will work without distractions. (when I work at home, I often wear 30db construction headphones so I am not interrupted by other noise in my household).
Even if you’re staying home, clean your body, brush and floss your teeth, comb your hair, trim your nails. This shows respect and caring for yourself
Experts recommend at least 6 hours and preferably 8 hours each night. Keep your bedroom for sleep and sex only – no tech or tv! If you must work in your bedroom, cover your desk with a sheet before you go to bed and turn off the computer. Put your phone in another room, do quiet tech-free activities 30 minutes before you go to bed to help you relax before sleep.
Experts recommend mostly vegetables, lean proteins, fruit, whole grains as tolerated. It’s important to limit alcohol and other drug intake and limit sugar and saturated fat.
Three areas of fitness: stretching, cardio, strength training. Move your body everyday: take walks, use an online fitness video (many are free online), play upbeat music and dance, do pushups or sit-ups or jump rope or jog in place or whatever you are safely capable of (in agreement with your doctor’s recommendations).
Take breaks through the day, take slow and deep breaths, visualize images of comfort and peace, take a nap if you are tired, take tech breaks and news breaks
Use your voice to connect with friends and family, tech platforms that let us see each other are great as well, smile at others as you pass one another or checkout at the grocery. If you are more isolated, look at photo albums and hold pictures in your hands if possible while enjoying memories
Learn something new
There are all kinds of free educational options online and possibly on your bookshelf. This can be a formal subject like science or astronomy. This can also be something fun, like music or cooking or a foreign language.
Hobbies and interests support our creativity, elevate our mood, distract us from life’s difficulties, give us purpose and meaning. Choose something that really interests you. It’s wonderful to get lost in something that makes us feel interested and uplifted.
Time in nature/fresh air
We benefit physically, psychologically, spiritually by spending time in nature. It can be as simple as going outside and breathing or looking at trees. Even passively sitting in a natural setting has benefits for us. Interacting with nature makes it even better.
Clean your home or car
Even if we don’t want to do it — we will feel better if we are in a clean and neat environment. Select one area of your home and get it clean or organized. Clear out the junk in your car, vacuum the seats and floor, wipe down the dashboard.
Enjoy this process as part of your powerful approach to coping with the COVID-19 pandemic. Recognize your strengths and resources and feel your resilience!
Wishing you good health, Dr. Lori Kleinman