Structure Matters

We’ve heard from several clients that they’d appreciate some support dealing with the challenges of working virtually. With more of us working from home right now, it’s leaving many people feeling unsettled and unproductive. The structure that we once had is gone and many of us haven’t yet put new, guiding structures into place.

To understand why structure is important, it may be helpful to understand a bit about the brain.

We all need consistent routines, otherwise, our brains have to do a lot of work to process all the new incoming data, and that uses a lot more energy. Our brains naturally want to conserve energy, so we count on routine and rote memory to get us through our days.

Having structure is critical to feeling safe,
feeling less tired,
and being more able to focus.

Think about it this way: imagine if every time you woke up, you had to relearn how to make coffee, brush your teeth, or even get dressed. These activities no longer require thought – hence the beauty of structure and routine!

COVID-19 has thrown much of our structure and routine out the window, so here are some tips for creating structure throughout your day during these shifting times:

Individuals:

  • Go to bed and wake up at the same time – every day.
  • Think about how you work. Are you most productive in the morning, midday, or afternoon? When possible, match this up with the needs of your workplace and colleagues so that you have a predictable schedule that takes the best advantage of your rhythms.
  • Make a list each morning of the most important items you need to tackle. Hang it on your wall.
  • Set reminders on your phone or computer to get up at least every hour and stretch, walk around the house, do some jumping jacks, dance through one whole song, etc.
  • Go outside when you can, while keeping a safe distance from others.
  • Eat healthfully and regularly.
  • Drink lots of water.

Partners:

  • If you’re both working from home, figure out separate work areas so that you aren’t tripping over one another.
  • If you’re on a virtual meeting or phone call, create a system so that your partner knows not to interrupt you.
  • Find times to connect each day. Schedule a walk outdoors, if possible, to increase your sense of expansiveness.
  • Take turns creating meals. Get creative with what you have in the cabinet.
  • Find time to laugh. Watch a funny movie, an an old sitcom, or something that you know will bring you a chuckle.

Families:

  • Be sure that your kids are getting plenty of sleep. Their brains are growing and incorporating all these changes, too, so they may need even more sleep than usual.
  • Ensure that they, too, get regular exercise. Their muscles and their brains need to be active.
  • Create structured learning opportunities for your kids at a regular time each day.
  • Make sure they can focus on learning something that matches their level of understanding.
  • Be sure to manage the stimulation in the house so that your child can concentrate. Don’t let one child play video games and expect the other to do math in the same room.
  • Help your kids with a creative outlet (drawing, dancing, playing music).
  • Let your kids help with meal preparation.
  • Finally, leave room for unstructured time that isn’t screen time.

At the end of the week, review the structure you’ve created to see what worked well, what was challenging, and what you might want to do differently next week.

Structure can support you and your family
as we go through this challenging time
.

Remember, it’s differently stressful to all be home together; so acknowledge this with your family, and together work to identify structures that will help keep your brains from feeling overly taxed during this time.

We’d love to hear what’s working for you!

If you’d like to read some additional posts we’ve done to support people during this current pandemic, click here.

 We’re here if we  can be helpful—either by phone,
 Zoom, or the virtual platform  of your choice

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