If you’re feeling like the days are more than a little monotonous right now, you’re not alone. The coronavirus pandemic has forced most of us to give up the social outings and engagements we used to enjoy. If you’re retired or tend to get blue in the winter (or both) the lack of structure and social interaction might be a struggle. Plus, the lack of available activities can make creating that structure even more difficult.
But instead of planning out every moment of your day, there’s an easier way to create structure in your day while keeping things open enough to allow for flexibility.
What’s the secret? Give yourself something to look forward to each day.
Special Agent Dale Cooper in the cult favorite show Twin Peaks says it best:
“Harry, I’m going to let you in on a little secret. Everyday, once a day, give yourself a present. Don’t plan it, don’t wait for it. Just let it happen. It could be a new shirt at the Men’s store. A catnap in your office chair. Or two cups of good, hot black coffee.”
As you can see, you don’t have to buy yourself an expensive present every day. You don’t even have to buy anything at all!
Instead, simply carve out time to do something you enjoy each day. This can be as strict or as flexible as you want—you could designate each day with things like “Taco Tuesday,” “Wine Wednesday,” “Movie Friday,” “Self-Care Sunday” or anything else you enjoy. Then, write that down and stick it to the fridge to remind yourself of the good things to come.
You could also take Cooper’s more spontaneous approach and pick one impromptu thing that makes you happy, like a cup of tea and watching the sunset, or a bubble bath.
The best thing about this idea is that it can evolve with your moods. If you’re sick of eating tacos every Tuesday, just pick something else! Focusing on food-related joys also means you’ll spend less time agonizing over meal planning. Plus, you can focus on foods you really like, too. Love eating breakfast for dinner? You could set that theme for Thursdays but vary the breakfast from week to week.
This also works well because, well, you have to eat anyway. That said, your thing to look forward to can be anything—a craft you enjoy, a walk at the park, buying a little treat at the grocery store, a game or movie night.
The idea is to choose something pleasurable enough that you look forward to it, but simple enough that it’s not a burden to do. With that in mind, go forth, and enjoy.