When I was growing up, my mom used to say, “Charlene, there is something to be said about routine!”
Usually she was referring to my sleeping habits: I would stay up far too late and then be tired the next day. She always told me that if I got into a routine of going to bed and waking up at the same time, I’d feel less tired and better overall.
Now that I’m older and have read about the benefits of routine sleep habits, I’ve discovered (once again) that my mom was right. Her emphasis on routines while growing up is why I like to stick to them now as a young adult maintaining my own schedule.
Like with most people, the COVID-19 pandemic has entirely disrupted my routine. I also have spent a lot of time in the hospital recently, where there is virtually no routine. So, I am feeling unsettled these days.
Maintaining a routine helps me with productivity. I often have many projects when I am healthy, and I rely on a strict routine to keep me on track. While many of those tasks are on hold as I fight to get well, I try to find small routines during my day to help me focus.
I believe these small routines will help anchor me in my fight to get well. I’ve been looking for things that I can regularly incorporate into each day, but even determining that can be overwhelming. As a result, I’ve tried to set a daily routine for each “category” of my day, a strategy I believe will help to add structure to these bizarre days.
Pulmonary rehabilitation and physical exercise are important for patients living with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF). Since my diagnosis four years ago, I have been working hard to maintain an exercise routine that I adapt to the condition of my lungs or my shortness of breath.
Establishing and maintaining an exercise regimen is one of the hardest routines I have, although arguably one of the most important. Because of this, I started with a routine for the health category of my day.
Following are categories I’ve deemed important for my day as a patient living with IPF. Within each category are details about the routine I am establishing while trying to conquer some of the unsettled feelings I have.
- Health and physical exercise: While physical activity is difficult for me at the moment, I know some exercise is important each day, even if it is only stretching to loosen my muscles and joints rather than a workout. This needs to be part of my routine as I continue to recover. Currently, I try to focus on my body for 15 to 30 minutes each day as part of my health and physical exercise routine.
- Sleep: Mom would be proud that I am taking her advice into consideration by having a set bedtime each night. Additionally, I try to wake up around the same time each morning to help with structuring my day. Due to being in the hospital, my ability to sleep well has been compromised, so I’d say that establishing a routine of regular sleeping habits is what I prioritize the least right now, though I’m still trying.
- Diet: My relationship with food has changed significantly since being diagnosed with IPF. Sometimes it is a struggle to eat due to the side effects of my anti-fibrotic medication. I try to build some time into my daily routine to spend in the kitchen, whether for meal planning or whipping up a small but healthy snack, such as a fresh fruit smoothie. I know my body needs fuel to recover, so part of my daily routine is focusing on a healthy diet.
- Creativity and mindfulness: I’ve previously written about the benefits of creative hobbies as a patient with IPF, and how crafting helps slow down my overactive mind. Currently, there is much to cause our minds to worry, so building a routine that includes creativity is critical to calm down our minds and bodies.
- Work and productivity: While many aspects of my work are at a standstill during this health setback, I still have a few projects I am trying to propel forward. Building in time to work on these projects slowly as part of my routine helps me maintain a feeling of productivity, which is something I regularly strive for.
How does maintaining a routine benefit you as a patient with IPF/PF? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.
Note: Pulmonary Fibrosis News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Pulmonary Fibrosis News or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to pulmonary fibrosis.
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