My mental health took a much more positive turn once I introduced routine and structure to my days.
Every Sunday I write a list of things I need to get done (outside of work) throughout the week. It doesn’t matter if I get them done on Monday morning or Sunday afternoon but I always cross them off before i’m sat down writing the next list seven days later.
Our circumstances, preferences and lives can change so quickly and it is important to amend the structure of our days to suit that. And in March 2020 when Boris gave us one simple instruction – to stay at home – the entire nation was thrown into a completely new situation.
Commuter trains, streets and offices fell silent while the public stayed at home to flatten the curve of the rising COVID infection rate, and with that we all had to change our routine accordingly.
And I think part of the reason why I have handled the numerous lockdowns and tier restrictions better than I expected, especially as someone who lives alone and has a background of mental health difficulties is down to my routine.
Before I go ahead and break down what I do on a typical Monday to Friday during lockdown there is something important to bare in mind.
Not all parts of the routine will be fun and games
From September 2019 until the first lockdown was announced in March I was commuting from Essex to Twickenham (South West London) and back every day of the week. That’s an hour and a half each way.
Three hours a day spent on trains during rush hour. Starting with a 35 minute train from Chelmsford to London Liverpool Street, followed by a ten minute walk to Bank for a five minute tube ride to Waterloo before completing the journey to Twickenham with a 20 minute train ride. The office I had to go to every day was a five to ten minute walk from the train station. I had to do that twice a day. Five. Days. A. Week.
I hated it. I absolutely hated doing that commute during the week and I think you would struggle to find someone who says they’d like to have that experience in their lives.
But I did it because I wanted the reward it would give me. I knew if I applied myself to the work and got the desired results – which ultimately I did – I’d be one huge step closer to where I want to be. For most of my time on the course I had a good time, it was just the commute I hated.
If we were living in a world where COVID-19 didn’t exist the course would have finished in May 2019, meaning I would have only had to do that commute for eight months. Eight months in the grand scheme of things is no time at all.
Which is what I told myself when I was offered a place on the course. “Hmm the journey every day is a bit long but think of the reward in eight months time.”
If i’d declined the opportunity to study at News Associates I would have no doubt ended up in a job I didn’t like in an industry I don’t have a passion for.
Times are tough in the journalism industry because of the pandemic. But despite that i’m sure many doors will open in the future and because I have the Gold Standard qualification i’ll be in a really good position to capitalise on them, which is well worth the three hour commute from September 2019 – March 2020.
My Lockdown Routine – Monday to Friday
The first thing I do on a Monday is something that is an ever present in my routine – I wake up early. During the week my alarm goes off at 06:00am and by 06:30 I’m sat with a green tea writing in my journal.
I’ve been journaling every day since my mental breakdown in May 2014. The only exception is when I go on holiday, in that situation I’m usually pretty relaxed and am recharging myself by way of sitting on the beach or exploring a new place.
The reason I journal first thing in the morning is because by putting my thoughts from thought to paper so early it frees my mind to focus on my work and other tasks I have lined up for the day ahead.
Journaling does wonders at identifying what is right and what is wrong with my mental health and if there is a common trend of negativity that I can’t do anything about I get on the phone to my therapist to book in a session.
I start work at 07:00am. In the pre-covid world I would be getting on my first train of the day at around 7 and because I kept that structure of starting my days at 06:00 I decided to start work a couple of hours earlier. By doing this I justify an early finish at the end of the day – usually closing my laptop at 15:00pm if i’m not too busy.
On Monday, Wednesday and Friday I join tens of thousands of people around the world in doing PE with Joe at 09:00am. I’ve been doing Joe Wick’s hiit sessions for years both at home and on the road during my travels and they do wonders both physically and mentally and best of all – the workout is done in 20 minutes.
As i’m sure you’re aware by now I’m running the London Marathon in October, so obviously there is some running during the week. This is usually on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays. The runs during the week range from 20 minutes to an hour, if possible I try to get it done at lunchtime, but if i’m particularly busy I get it done as soon as I finish work.
Once work is done and i’ve completed my afternoon/evening run I do an element of cleaning in the flat. My home is a two-bed flat in Chelmsford so cleaning it doesn’t take too long, especially when I split it up across the week. One day i’ll vacuum, twice a week i’ll dust and i’ll also clean the en-suite and bathroom once a week, I don’t think I have to say too much about that, the mental health benefits of having a clean home are pretty obvious.
As for the evening I have dinner at around 17:00pm. I prep most of my meals over the weekend and freeze them for consumption throughout the week in order to allow myself more free time in the evening.
With this free time in the evening I’ll do a number of things, it varies as the week goes on, the one consistency is that I have a scented candle burning in the background.
I’ll either speak to my friends on Xbox for a couple of hours, watch some tv if there is a particular show i’m invested in which is currently The Queen’s Gambit or if there’s football on like there has been this week i’ll watch some of that.
One or two evenings a week, depending how much football there is, I’ll spend an hour recording the football podcast I do with three of my friends and will spend another hour editing it straight after.
As for Friday evenings i’ll watch a film. I do this on a Friday as a way of marking the end of another week and signal the weekend otherwise I’ll just lose track of the days. To make Friday’s extra special i’ll get out the big dog, the Jo Malone candle to build that warm, cosy atmosphere while the world is so cold and negative outside the four walls of our homes.
So far in 2021 i’ve watched Saving Private Ryan, which is a film I’ve seen many times and I love despite how heavy and emotional it is. While last week I watched Knives Out for the first time which I really enjoyed, a classic whodunnit which you don’t see enough of these days in my opinion.
For the last hour or so before I go to bed I try to avoid looking at a digital screen, whether that be my tv, phone or tablet. Instead I read a book which is something I wanted to do more of in 2021. I’ve set myself the target of 25 books this year and I’m currently on my fourth which is The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman and I’m really enjoying so far.
And that’s it for Monday to Friday. My weekends are slightly different which I’ll talk about in next weeks post.
One last thing…
As I mentioned a few times in the post i’m running the 2021 London Marathon for Mind. If you wish to donate or keep up to date with how my training and fundraising is going you can do so by following the links below.
Fundraising Page: https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/JordanCamp
My new Instagram page dedicated to my London Marathon journey: @26.2MilesForMind
Mind Website: https://www.mind.org.uk