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It’s hard to find even one aspect of life that hasn’t been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. The crisis has uprooted lives and disrupted daily schedules for people across the globe. And now, with more schools closing down and a large number of companies relying on remote work to help prevent the virus’s spread, it can feel especially difficult to achieve any semblance of normalcy in our day-to-day lives. And that can be stressful: over 80% of people say that they’re worried about changes to their existing routines and structures in our new normal, according to a Thrive Global survey of 5,000 respondents around coronavirus pain points.

Establishing successful new routines — when we can’t keep our old ones — is key. A study from Virginia Commonwealth University found that a consistent morning routine helped people fall asleep faster come nighttime, and helped them sleep more soundly. Good sleep is always important, but at a time when we all need to protect our immunity, it’s more critical than ever. A study from the University of Tübingen in Germany found that sleep deprivation reduces the efficiency of immune cells that help fight off viruses and pathogens.

And routines don’t only boost our physical health; they can also strengthen our mental well-being, mitigating the sense of general anxiety that many people feel throughout the day, according to research in Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes. That study also found that in a moment of anxiety or upset, turning to a ritual or routine is more effective in reducing anxiety than simply trying to calm down.

Ready to begin building new morning routines and set your day up right? These Microsteps — small, science-backed actions you can start taking immediately to build habits that significantly improve your life — will help:

Start each remote workday with a quick gratitude exercise. 

Write down in your work notebook one thing you’re grateful for today, whether it’s the chance to spend more time with family, the extra time saved from a commute, or the familiar view out your window. Science shows that flexible workers experience greater gratitude, so use this time to soak that in. 

Share your working hours on your calendar.

Giving your team visibility into your schedule will help them coordinate meetings around the times they know you’ll be available, so you can protect the time you need to log off or attend to family obligations.

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