habits and routines, alarm clock in blankets

Fight Fatigue: Rebuilding Habits and Routines

Overnight, daily habits evaporated. Changes to work status, work location, shopping options, schooling, and the ability to travel freely has turned life upside down. Seemingly simple, “Stay at home,” proved to be hard, as most people rely on daily habits to give their days structure, flow, and ease. These sudden, overnight changes knocked routines out of balance, and without routine, many people feel out of sorts and exhausted.

It is no surprise people are feeling fatigue given that habits provide a strong foundation for daily activity. They are the brain’s way of automating frequent activities, like brushing teeth or driving to work. Well-established habits free up space for big thinking. When they are disrupted, more conscious thought must be directed toward every-day decision making. 

After 8 weeks or so at home, fatigue may have set in as a byproduct of the intense amount of decision making required to figure out how to “do” pandemic life. 

Our brains are working overtime to respond to the lack of daily patterns by making decisions for all the "newness" in our lives:

  • how to work from home
  • how, when, and where to grocery shop
  • how to care for family members
  • how to throw a virtual birthday party
  • how to pay bills with reduced income, and on and on...

The increased demand for brain power can be exhausting, even though they seem like minor things. If you feel wiped out despite more down time, it is because your brain is tired.

One way to combat decision fatigue is to seek to find solutions to new challenges as quickly as possible.1 

Another way to boost energy and reduce fatigue is to create new routines to support you right now, even if it is only temporary. 

5 Steps to Recreate Routine

1. With life upended, focus on the most important decisions and create routines that make sense for right now.  Consider incorporating one or more of these healthy habits

2. Resume a simple, 3-step morning routine so your brain can recreate the foundation of normalcy. 

  • Wake up at the same time every day.
  • Practice self-care (Ex. get dressed like you would normally, cook healthy meals, etc.).
  • Then, choose a habit that will serve you well and do it every single day. (Ex: drink 8 oz of water, walk the dog, share a cup of coffee with your spouse

3. Create structure to your day by identifying work hours, mealtimes, and leisure activities. 

4. Seek assistance from professionals, family members or friends for answers to questions you do not know. 

5. Eat foods in their most natural state; foods that come from the earth, water, trees, and ground.

These unprocessed foods help stabilize hormones, provide energy, and help reduce brain fog improving decision making.  

 

We are living in unprecedented times with no reference material to guide us forward. The most important thing is recognizing a strong foundation of healthy routines that will aid us as we move through now and integration back into the community at large.

About the Writer

Kelley Rakow, Health and Lifestyle Coach

Sources 

1 Decision Fatigue 

Ego Depletion

How to Avoid Burnout Amid a Pandemic

 

Information presented by W(h)ealth should not be relied upon to determine diet, make a medical diagnosis, or determine treatment for a medical condition. The information is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical advice. Consult a doctor and/or medical professional before making any health changes, especially any changes related to a specific diagnosis or condition.