Clock overlaid on a calendar

The coronavirus has most of us under stay-at-home orders. Being at home can be frustrating and stressful, in part, because we are out of our normal routine.

Routines are very important tools to help adults and children deal with the stress of this pandemic.

How to Schedule Your Day

Here are some ways to schedule your day to get the most out of it, as well as things to include in your schedule to boost your mental health.

Schedule a time (and set an alarm) for activities.

This includes what time you will get up in the morning, eat, do activities (work, self-care, playtime) and go to bed.

Try to schedule something for every hour. Set beginning and end times for each activity.

Schedule getting ready.

Get ready for the day like you would any other time of the year. Take a shower, brush your hair and teeth, get dressed. Get your kids ready for the day with clean clothes and brushed teeth.

Taking care of basic hygiene goes a long way to making you feel "human" and able to function normally.

Schedule work and school.

Schedule a work day, if you are working from home. If you are home with children, schedule a school day, if possible, around the same times that your kids went to school and had their different subjects.

Add in breaks and lunch, like you would if you were in the office or at school. Include time to check emails, work on assignments, have conference or video calls or whatever the day calls for. Put it all on your calendar with alerts set.

Schedule downtime.

If you plan to watch TV or a movie, schedule an end time to move on to another activity. Consider whether to coordinate with others in the household or watch alone

There are many online activities, like virtual travel, to keep you busy and ways to stay well besides watching Netflix. Going outside is a great way to get some fresh air and exercise during your downtime.

Schedule self-care and alone time.

Make sure you have time set aside to do something good for you. Self-care is very important in tough times because it can help you manage stress.

And don't forget to schedule alone time for everyone in the family. Alone time is a form of self-care.

Schedule exercise.

Take time to exercise. It is recommended that each of us gets at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week.

This is good for your heart and mental health, as well as  for maintaining a healthy weight and coping with stress.

Schedule meals and snacks.

Plan what you will eat for the day and stick to your healthy eating plan. This prevents snacking all day long because there is "nothing else to do" or because you are stressed.

Schedule times for other activities.

All the other parts of the larger routine of your life can get lost in the disruption of this pandemic.

Schedule time to help your elderly neighbors, go to the grocery store for essentials, and schedule telemedicine appointments for routine medical care. Set aside time to manage your finances and clean your house.

Schedule times to keep in touch.

Make time for staying connected with friends and family, but make sure there is a start and end time to the calls.

Schedule to start each day with mindfulness.

Starting the day with mindfulness activities is a great way to set an intention for the way you want the day to go. Think positive thoughts and the day is more likely to go well or at least give you strength if it goes haywire.

The key is to schedule time to be present and pay attention to the here and now, rather than focusing on anything stressful that might come up during the day. The practice doesn't have to be long. A five- to ten-minute meditation is usually enough to get your brain ready for the day.

Try these 10 ways to step back from stress for an easy way to reduce stress and practice mindfulness.