On the initiative of the Task Force on Chronobiology and Chronotherapy, the ISBD (International Society for Bipolar Disorders) and the SLTBR (The Society for Light Treatment and Biological Rhythms) have jointly issued a statement with recommendations for maintaining healthy routines and rhythms in this day and age. The fear is that as a result of the loss of social obligations and a regular light-dark cycle, people with mood disorders are at greater risk of developing mental health problems.
Self-management strategies for promoting regularity of daily routines
Establish routines for yourself while you are in quarantine or when you work from home. Routines help to stabilise your biological clock.
Get up at the same time every day. Getting up at fixed times is the most important input for stabilising your biological clock.
Make sure you spend some time outdoors every day, especially in the early morning. Your biological clock needs to "see" the light in the morning, to know "what time" it is.
If you are unable to go outside, try to spend at least two hours at a window, watching the daylight and focusing on keeping calm.
Set times each day when you do a number of recurring activities, such as teaching or getting lessons, talking on the phone to friends, or cooking. Do these activities at the same time every day.
Exercise every day, ideally at the same time every day.
Eat your meals at the same time every day. If you are not hungry, at least eat a snack at the prescribed time.
Social interactions are important, even when 'social distancing'. Find social interactions where you can share your thoughts and feelings with another person in real-time contact. Video conferencing, phone contact, or even real-time chatting are preferable to scrolling through messages. Schedule these interactions at the same time every day.
Avoid naps during the day, especially later in the day. If you do want to take a nap, limit it to 30 minutes. Naps make it difficult to fall asleep at night.
Avoid bright lights (especially blue light) in the evening. This includes computer screens and smartphones. The blue part of the light suppresses the hormone that helps us to fall asleep.
Stick to a fixed time when you go to bed and wake up that suits your natural rhythm. If you are an evening person, you may go to bed a little later and get up a little later than others in your household. However, make sure you go to bed and wake up at the same time every day.
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27 March 2020; Translated text commissioned by Marijke C.M. Gordijn, Chrono@Work; Original text originating from the International Society of Bipolar Disorders (ISBD), Task Force on Chronobiology and Chronotherapy and the Society for Light Treatment and Biological Rhythms (SLTBR).