Being Mindful of Structure During Covid-19

My girlfriends and I have a little group chat where we often post funny memes – since Covid-19 began, many memes have circulated. They tickle the funny bone, bring some humour to a stressful and discouraging time, they lighten the mood. Some of them have running themes about alcohol (having wine in your coffee cup during a Zoom meeting) or the ability to never have to get out of your pj’s.

In my work as a therapist, I have also seen some running themes – essentially, we are getting ‘Covid-tired.’ The isolating effect of the Coronavirus is beginning to affect people’s overall mood and it is increasing the tendency to slip into depression. Exploring this with many clients has led to an interesting observation:

Not maintaining a similar structure to your ‘pre-Covid’ workday exaggerates the isolating effect of the pandemic.

So much so, that I now ask clients specifically “Are you getting dressed in the morning as though you are going to work?” You would be surprised as to how many people report working in their pajamas or lounge wear. Further to that, their workweek habits are no longer defined and therefore are being set aside (such as exercise or getting outside.)

We have built associations in our brain. Our Monday to Friday work week has associations to structure and routine just as our weekends have associations to relaxation and freedom. When I get into my pajamas at 8:00 pm, that is my brain’s signal to relax. You will find me reading or watching TV; not vacuuming or doing my taxes. 🙂

We are much better served to establish a structure similar to our ‘pre-Covid’ workday so as to stay on track, motivated and productive. It should make no difference that you are at home; going through the steps of your day as though you were going to work will help to keep you energized, focused and healthy.

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