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Finding that Quarantine Routine.

A blog from our Operations Director, Jade Ball, on how finding the routine that works for her has helped not only get through lockdown, but has also made her question what her routine will be like in the future….

By Operations Director, Jade Ball

As I sit here and write this blog, it’s day 50 of the ‘great pause’. I don’t know about you, but I certainly didn’t see this coming and I didn’t have a plan for how I was going to cope or adapt to this new normal. Over the last few weeks, I’ve been thinking a lot about routine and what an important part it plays in our lives – when you get it right, you almost don’t think about. But since my routine went completely out of the window on 23rd March, I’ve had to re-work everything to make life work again for me.

In our industry, a world of last-minute requests and deadlines, you’d think routine wasn’t actually for us. We’re always adaptable and flexible, ready to deliver above and beyond… but what sits quietly in the background, without much thought, is this wonderful framework of routine. It’s the backbone of who we are, it gives us the strength to get things done and also to look after our mental health and wellbeing. I’ve been working at Top Banana for 12 years now and my routine was nailed (if I do say so myself). My alarm goes off at the same time, I know what time I need to leave the house for my commute, what time I’m going to be eating lunch… and so on. In some respects I took my routine for granted, it was just how my world was and it felt good.

Over the years, I made some changes to my routine when things felt stressful, – going to bed earlier to get more sleep when things were busy, adding the gym in after work to ensure I looked after my mental health and having a few days a week where I knew I was going home bang on 5:30pm. These, however, were my changes, my decisions, and my choice to help create a routine that worked to get the best out of me. When lockdown hit on March 23rd this routine went completely out of the window- it was not my choice and I was not ready for the change.  Although I know it was completely and utterly for good reason (I whole heartedly agree with the decision to go on lockdown), I realised that routine gives you some power, some guidance through the day / week, and without it, I felt like my purpose had vanished.

Everything I was used to doing at certain times and in certain ways was off! I won’t lie, week one wasn’t great, but I soon realised I needed to make a change because this was not how I wanted to feel for the foreseeable future. So I gave myself a kick up the behind and started to make a new routine, really thinking about what I was doing and how it was making me feel.

Sleep was the first thing I knew I had to change – anyone else finding they can’t get it right? I don’t know if it’s pent up energy or my mind being un-able to shut down, but I know each night I’ll be awake at some point. When lockdown started, I was going to bed later and waking up later – however this has had to change. I’ve now gone back to my 7:00am wake up and bedtime as if I were commuting. It’s instantly got me feeling re-vitalized, as it’s still allowed me the same amount of sleep – while taking into consideration that I’d likely be awake and thinking in the middle of the night. Lunchtime has stayed the same for me, ensuring I eat at 1:00pm. However, where before I may have taken my sandwich to my desk, I’ve started cooking new and more exciting lunches to ensure I take my hour and step away from the laptop. Breaks have felt more important to me than ever while working from home, and lunch time is the time I have to take for myself to break up the day – either eating or exercising. That being said, keeping my exercise mojo was tough at first. Normally I’m at the gym during the week and have a one on one PT session to keep me motivated, so losing all that was a blow. To get me back in the groove, I’m now having a zoom PT session once a week, on the same day as I always have, to keep me healthy and happy and have also picked up yoga as something new and easy to do at home!  I want to make sure I can get back to the gym when they re-open, it’s not been easy, but, they say it takes 21 days to form and I’m happy to say, I’m back in a groove that works for me.

For everyone, who like me, craves routine – I ask you to start thinking about the ‘what next?’. We all know the great pause won’t last forever, and already things are changing- meaning more modification to that routine you’ve been working on for the last 6 weeks, so it’s time to get ready for adaptation once again. We don’t know for sure how the easing of lockdown will look and how long it will take, but we do know that we can create a new routine that works and do it quickly, like we did only a few months ago. Routine creates purpose and for most is needed, so be mindful, make it a priority and be flexible with it as things change and shift. Also, take some time to reflect, looking back at your old routine and thinking about your new lockdown one – how can you take the best of both into the future? Like me, you could also write down your routine goals for the future and check in on them to ensure you build them in as the social distancing eases and things get back on track.

Sometime soon, without even knowing it, we will have our routines nailed and better than ever – but until then – be ready, have a plan, make routine a priority and be kind to yourself. If you do, you’ll come out of this better than ever and may have even learnt a few new things about yourself and your routine that stick around permanently.

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