Major catastrophes worsen mood in many ways, but one of them is pretty simple to correct: Structure.

We all have an inner clock that sets our mood, energy, and sleep, and disruptions to daily schedule – whether from the holidays or a viral quarantine – can destabilize that clock. People with depression, bipolar disorder, or insomnia are particularly vulnerable. Here’s what you can do to keep the biological clock on time during quarantine.

Start with the morning. Getting out of bed at the same time each day is the most important step on this plan. Packing a lot of antidepressant activities in the early hours helps set the tone for the rest of the day.


Arise out of bed and stand up at same time each day.

Wake up to a dawn stimulator or sunlight. This will shut down your melatonin so it can cycle on again at night. It also improves your sleep waves in the early morning hours so you’ll wake with more energy and alertness. Open the curtains when you wake up.

Wake up to music you like: Something upbeat, pleasurable, and melodic. Something that gets you moving

Walk outdoors for 5 minutes

If you have real trouble feeling awake, start the day with a cold shower (1-3 minutes) or cold water on your face. This is hard (it hurts!) so do it gradually, starting with a few seconds and increasing over a week. This will raise norepinephrine, helping your brain to wake up.

Healthy breakfast: avoid sugar, white breads, pastries, and processed foods. Use whole grains, eggs, protein, whole grain cereal, nuts, oatmeal, fruit, plain yogurt (but not fruit juice)

Drink green or black tea (it has mild caffeine, but also ingredients like L-theanine that reduce anxiety and depression)


Avoid napping and stay out of bed

Walk in nature for 20-90 minutes

Stay active mentally and physically during the day


Wear blue-light filtering glasses 2 hours before bed. This will raise your melatonin and deepen sleep. It does not make you fall asleep, but will improve sleep quality.

Sleep in a pitch dark room. Even a nightlight can lighten sleep.

Sleep in a colder room (60-65 degrees Fahrenheit). This will deepen sleep.