Routines and Unpredictability

I was consulting with Dr. Linda Guerrero–an educator who did her doctoral work in mentoring and grew up in North County–recently about how they’re approaching online school with her kids and students.  One thing we focused on was routines and why they’re so crucial.  

  • We make so many decisions on any given day.  Each time we make one, we add stress.  
  • Lacking predictability makes things feel out of control, which causes more stress.
  • The pandemic has upended all of our routines and added health requirements to fit into our new routines, which we’re still getting used to.
  • All of the changes, unpredictability, and new health requirements are causing more stress.

I’ll get to the routines in a bit…

I’ve talked with several employees who are feeling stressed out.  Some feel fatigued while others are experiencing symptoms such as dizziness, fogginess, or just plain irritability.  I’ve suggested to some that they talk to their doctor or see a therapist for these symptoms.  

In my faith tradition, we have spiritual disciplines we engage with to keep us connected to God.  Some of us pray as soon as we get up or do a prayer called the “Examination of Conscious” before going to bed.  We say prayers before a meal and attend Zoom community groups to talk about our faith and lives. These are all part of our routines.  

Given the amount of unpredictability and the sense of losing our normal routines (I was even thinking of the yearly routine of doing back to school shopping and how that is not going to happen), Dr. Guerrero suggests we create some new routines and schedules during the pandemic.  She suggests doing things like:

  • Weekly Workouts (family, individually)
  • Having set Meal times and cooking together (dinners for sure)
  • Outings (getting a to-go order together, ice cream, having the kids pick)
  • Summer fun and adventures for the week (a beach outing, hike, neighborhood walk)
  • Visiting certain friends and family members
  • Weekly Zoom calls with religious communities or with family and friends

Our family has a family dinner time.  We also throw out options for the family to engage in:  a walk, outing, a movie to watch together, visit family, do a family devotional.  

I also have a schedule I try to maintain on a daily basis that consists of set prayer times, making my rounds, writing and reading, and exercise.  

What are some ways you can create some more predictability and routine during this pandemic?  I’d love to hear your ideas!  

NOTE: I really enjoyed this quick read on routines and stress reduction:

Corporate Chaplaincy Value

I’m constantly getting to know you and your values.  I’d like to share one of my corporate chaplaincy values that our team has come up with.  I hope to live out this value every day.

Sacramental, Incarnational Presence:  the ministry of presence is not so much about accomplishing tasks and goals.  But it does have a goal in mind:  to be fully present to others physically, emotionally, and spiritually.  We are carriers of God’s presence (sacramental, incarnational), reminding ourselves and others of “Emmanuel” (God with us).  In this ministry of presence, we can listen and pay attention to our clients and find the voice of the One who calls us the Loved ones.