Over a few short weeks, the daily activities that may have dictated your household’s schedule almost certainly dwindled or disappeared. In place of the hustle and bustle you experience in normal times, you may find yourself waking up to…what, exactly?
Why Plan Your Day?
While some people might naturally thrive in the absolute freedom to do whatever they want, whenever they want, many people are feeling lost when they are not given a set schedule. Establishing and maintaining a plan, while staying realistic about changing the plan when needed, can help.
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It can enable you to:
- Eat well, stay active, and get enough sleep to stay physically healthy and boost your immune system.
- Focus on tasks, such as working from home, educating children, and running your household.
- Stay patient as you spend loads of extra time with family members or housemates.
- Remembering to take your medications as prescribed.
- Planning nutritious meals that are low in sodium and high in blood pressure-lowering nutrients.
- Staying physically active to lower blood pressure.
- Managing stress.
Using Lark during this time can help you manage blood pressure and stick to your healthy intentions.
Everyone’s schedule will look a little different, but here is a sample.
7:00 a.m. Wake up
Take a sip of water, take medications if this is the time, grab a small snack (optional), get into your workout clothes, and check the news or email until you are ready to get moving. If this is your usual time to check blood pressure, go ahead and measure now. It is best to do it at a consistent time each day. Lark can track your measurements, prompt you to measure, and remind you of good techniques to get accurate results.
8:00 a.m. Work out.
Walking, cycling, and jogging outdoors alone or with your housemates are still fair game, as long as you stay away from others. In your home or backyard, lifting weights, using an elliptical, stationary cycle, or treadmill, or doing an exercise video can work great. Cardio and resistance training both work to lower blood pressure. If you need entertainment, your workout offers a good time to watch the news or a movie, listen to music, or chat on the phone with an at-a-distance workout buddy. Then a good stretch and shower can get you energized for the day.
9:30 a.m. Breakfast.
Remember that balanced breakfast you always intended to have? Without rushing off to sit in traffic, you have the chance to make it and eat with your entire family! A good breakfast can let you start the day off strong with plenty of potassium, antioxidants, and other nutrients to lower blood pressure. The meal might include cottage cheese and fruit, yogurt with oats, or eggs scrambled with vegetables and beans, for example. The kids can always have a little something extra, such as whole-grain cereal. At breakfast, why not talk about everyone’s plans for the day, likely school for the kids and work or chores for you?
10:00 a.m. Work.
After getting the kids settled down with their lessons for the morning, it may be time for you to get to your “office” in the bedroom, dining room, or wherever you are working during these weeks. Remember to let your boss know if you expect interruptions to your regular work productivity due to taking care of kids during the daytime, or any other unusual circumstances, during this shelter-in-place period. Getting up to move around for a few minutes at 11:00 a.m. and noon can help keep your blood pressure in check.
1:00 p.m. Lunch.
If the kids get antsy before this, see if they’d be interested in making lunch for everyone. Depending on their age and interest, you can give them some parameters or suggest ingredients, but you may be pleasantly surprised if you just let them loose in the kitchen and see what they come up with. Sitting down together for lunch can be a pleasant and unusual experience if everyone is normally eating at work or school during typical weekdays!
If you are not up to cooking a gourmet lunch, serving the food you would have otherwise put in sack lunches is just fine. Peanut butter or cheese on whole-grain bread or sliced apples, or tuna or grilled chicken on green salads or in whole-wheat tortillas, are easy, healthy, and delicious. Other possible components to round out the meal can include baby carrots, whole-grain crackers, low-fat cottage cheese, roasted soybeans, and fruit, for example. If you prefer a hot lunch, soup, stew, or chili that you made on the weekend can last for a few days and be heated up in minutes.
2:00 p.m. Work.
Early afternoon can be a good time for kids to finish up their day’s school assignments and then read a bit or do other individual activities such as work on an art project or practice an instrument. Later, they might turn to educational screen time if you need to buy a bit of extra time for you to get your work done. Time can fly by when you are settled at a desk, working, and setting a timer to remind you to get up regularly to stretch or walk around. That helps keep metabolism going strong.
4:00 p.m. Snack.
A small snack with protein can satisfy hunger until dinner. It could be tuna on celery sticks, cherry tomatoes and a string cheese stick, baby carrots or apple slices with peanut butter or hummus, or a hard-boiled egg, for example. The kids may need bigger portions, of course. Snacktime is a good opportunity to check in with your kids and, if they are finished with their day’s schoolwork, decide on their activities for the next little bit. Chores, free play indoors (or outdoors if you can supervise them adequately), and screen time can be options here. Children can even prep food for dinner.
5:30 p.m. Outdoor time.
Instead of sitting in your car on the way home from work, why not get outside for some quality family and active time? Garden, kick a ball around in the back or front yard, or grab your masks or bandannas and go for a walk. A dance-off is always fun for a rainy day.
6:00 p.m. Dinner.
Wow…you did not need to contend with heavy traffic, or a boss who wanted you to stay late at the office, making you late to dinner. Research consistently shows that people who eat dinner as a family are more likely to have healthier diets. It is a good time to talk about the day or plan tomorrow, and you can get deeper into conversation if the family puts phones away during dinner.
Everyone can play a role in preparing dinner, setting the table, and cleaning up. If you are too tired to cook, there is nothing wrong with getting delivery and supporting a local business. Reduced-carb meals are possible with a lean protein, such as chicken, tofu, beans, or fish, and tons of vegetables, such as in a salad, as a side, or in fajitas or stir fry dishes. A small serving of a high-fiber starch, such as sweet potato, another starchy vegetable, or brown rice or a whole-grain pita, can help you stay within calorie goals so your weight stays on track.
7:30 p.m. Chores and Family Time.
Everyone can pitch in and contribute to a cleaner, more pleasant home environment. Vacuuming, doing the laundry, sweeping, putting away toys, getting out tomorrow’s workout clothes, and wiping counters may be on the list of tasks to divide up. Next, there may be time to play games, look at old photos, read a book, act out a play, or sing songs – whatever your family likes to do together. About half an hour before the kids’ bedtime may be the time to start pre-bed rituals, such as brushing teeth, drinking water, and reading a book.
9:00 p.m. Relax.
After the kids are in bed, it may finally be time for a few precious quiet moments before your own bedtime. This could be your chance to watch the news, phone a friend, catch up on social media, or watch a favorite movie. If you were not able to get enough work done during the day, it could be your chance to check work emails or finish up odds and ends without other distractions.
Taking time now to plan ahead can help you hit the ground running again tomorrow. Along with being sure you know how to get your kids started with tomorrow’s schoolwork, having plans for breakfast, and being ready for the morning’s workout, you might also take inventory of groceries and other household items.
This is also a great time to use Lark if you did not have a chance throughout the day. You can log your meals and check your physical activity and sleep stats, and get some friendly feedback from a trusted and caring source.
10:30 p.m. Bedtime Routine.
In a world in which everything has gone haywire, a calming bedtime routine can be comforting. If you have not been in the habit of following one, now may be a good time to establish one. It might include brushing your teeth, reading, listening to music, or stretching, for example. Most sleep experts, including Lark, suggest avoiding phone, laptop, and other screens during the half-hour before bedtime.
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11:00 p.m. Bedtime.
Good job getting through the day! You may find yourself exhausted with the new routine and constantly-changing scene with the COVID-19 pandemic progressing. Listen to your body and go to bed earlier if you need to!
Staying at home during this period of social distancing can be challenging in many ways, and having a daily plan can help you stay sane and possibly even fulfilled, connected, and accomplished during this time. Lark can help you keep track of your own choices each day, and also be there for you 24/7 as you navigate this unprecedented situation.