How My Routine Saved Me
Updated: Mar 8, 2021
Written by: Christina Gentile
For most of the coronavirus time, I have bucked against the repetition of the days. On and on they marched, devoid of personality, interest, and excitement. My body seemed to have developed a muscle memory for performing the exact same tasks at the exact same time every day, and I once in awhile I had this creepy feeling that if I didn’t will myself to walk the dog at 2:30 p.m. my body would do it anyway, with or without my mental agreement, like a robot. My husband likes to microwave his coffee for exactly 46 seconds, so every morning when I come downstairs, the microwave displays :14 seconds from when he had pressed stop. Most days I was finding myself in what felt like a time warp and momentarily would wonder if this was all the same day, and I was stuck in some kind of time loop or an episode of Dr. Who. By the time that I figured out that no, this was actually Tuesday, the day would be grinding to an end. We were well past the point of coronavirus memes, Zoom happy hours, or really any novelty whatsoever that could be associated with this time.
But at some point mid-January, I felt a subtle shift. It started out as a whisper of a thought. What if the routine, the monotony, was like a safe harbor? What if it’s my sanity? I told my 14 year old that we’ve been setting out expectations too high. That we need to find things during the day that maybe make us feel only 1% or 2% better, not 50%. That we need to find tiny bubbles to look forward to. For me these are: coffee, exercise, reading, alcohol-free beer. They are like buoys; I swim to one, hang out there for awhile, and then move onto the next one. With so many unknowns, knowing that I am doing the exact same things at the same times every day has become hugely comforting.
Now, I am simultaneously delighted and panicked at the thought of the coming post-covid days, when I can’t walk my dog at 2:30 because of an in-person meeting, or maybe my husband decides to microwave his coffee for 54 seconds. I think they call this anxiety, and I think that’s okay. Especially for those of us who have been super cautious, I think it’s okay for us to be nervous about the wide-open possibilities of leaving that behind. I just won’t be able to do it without extra coffee.
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