Moving beyond Groundhog Day

Apr 29, 2020

Breaking the monotony

How can we break the monotony that we are all beginning to experience right now?  Maybe we will learn some important life lessons as we live through our own looped existence, as was the case for Phil in Groundhog Day.  Hopefully, these new insights will inform how we live in the future but for the time being, all we have is the here and now. 

Thankfully, in this here and now, our daily routines afford us with something that’s not easily found right now: certainty. Keeping our routine - whether a new one or the one before COVID-19 - is an important part in helping maintain our mental and physical health, provided those routines are healthy ones. Routines and rituals are important in times of crisis because they help us feel more in control and centred, while helping us gain a sense of ownership over our time.

A routine doesn’t necessarily mean waking up at exactly the same time every day and doing everything in the same order. The key, instead, is to attribute meaning to these routines. Rituals keep our day moving along but are infused with sense of achievement, gratitude and other positive emotions.  So how we can establish a routine which will help to give us the comfort of a new normal?

Adapting our daily and weekly routines

  • Get up at the same time each day – even at the weekends. There is lots of evidence that a consistent waking hour contributes to overall health by helping to establish your body’s own circadian rhythm. Now more so than ever, it is so important for us to practice good sleep habits and maintain adequate sleep hours so our bodies can recuperate and boost their immune systems.


  • Compartmentalize your day This routine is even more important during times of distress or chaos. In order for our minds to function at optimum efficiency, we must have order and stability, and right now it’s harder than ever to have either. Simple habits of marking out when and where we will complete our daily tasks pays dividends to our sense of calm as this reminds our brain that life is still going on despite the interruptions we are facing.


  • Do short bursts of quality work, then rest. There is growing evidence that suggests our concentration can wane over time and so, short bursts of focused brain activity are far more productive. 25 minutes is optimum for a single task, then take a break.


  • Maintain consistent aspects of your daily and weekly schedule so the days don’t blend together. For example, exercise on alternate days such as Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays and build in new routines on the other days – family activities, gardening, DIY projects or cooking new recipes.


  • Improve your diet. During the early days of the stay-at-home regime, food was a comforter for many.The bad behaviours around food that we have built up over the initial few weeks now need to be challenged. It is worth remembering that 70% of our immune system resides in our gut. What we eat, now more than ever, is key to helping to fight the threat of the virus and optimising our overall health.


  • Be grateful. It’s hard not to bemoan the many freedoms in our lives that we are missing. But have we stopped to think of all the benefits we may be enjoying during the stay-at-home restrictions? More sleep and rest, time with family, time to reflect and re-evaluate our lives, to name but a few? These new gains have given us a different perspective which may inform how we build a new normal when the time comes.

Controlling what we can by making some simple adjustments to our routines gives us the comfort of predictability which can reap enormous benefits, not only to our productivity, but to our mental and physical wellbeing. Unlike Phil in Groundhog Day, we have way more control over how we adapt to our new normal and, who knows, we may even learn to enjoy it.

Dee France, MA, manager of CA Support.

Members and students who need emotional or wellbeing support can contact CA Support on 01 637 7342 or 086 024 3294, by email or online at