How To Maintain A Regular Routine During A Stay At Home Order

Darshana Balakumaran
5 min readMar 20, 2020


A Malaysian In LA During Covid-19, Entry #2

It’s Day 6 in LA, and as expected today California announced a statewide stay-at-home order, effective midnight here. There is no indication as to how long this will last.

What I do appreciate is how the announcement was made. While emphasising the critical need to stay at home, the county leaders also assured residents of food security, reminded everyone to look out for each other, and support local businesses as much as possible. There was a lot of love, care and genuine concern in the messaging, and also a firm and stern warning to the younger generation in particular who have been going around completely ignorant to their actions at this stage, as they socialise and continue life as usual.

Let’s just hope people comply.


It’s becoming clearer to me that if I’m going to survive the next 5 weeks here (provided flights are still operating when it’s time for us to leave), I need a plan for a daily routine that makes sense.

So here are some things that I will be doing which I hope makes sense to whoever is reading this as well:


It’s the simplest thing to do, and the easiest way to relieve any stress, tension and anxiety we feel. Right now, I simply choose either a guided meditation to follow online, or a meditation music track. You can find an ample amount of these on Spotify, iTunes or Youtube. The key for me is to practice controlled breathing, and a method that is pretty easy is called “Box Breathing”. Inhale for three counts, hold for three counts, exhale for three counts, hold for three counts, and repeat. Regulating the breath helps to calm down the racing thoughts, and helps me start the day with a little more peace. Much needed in these times.


This one is the toughest for me, especially now because it’s so damn cold in LA. I’m really not fond of the cold — trust me when I say I love my tropical Malaysian weather anytime.

Right now, I try to get some stretches done as I wake up, and I think moving forward I have to start walking and maybe learning how to shoot some hoops in our front yard with the husband. Yup, trying that typical American household sport that hangs above a majority of garage doors here. A basketball hoop.


I haven’t been reading at all. At least, nothing beneficial to my growth. And this has to change. I’m going to start a new book, and limit my screen time to catch up on news to an hour a day. Any more than that and I think I may not be able to keep my sanity in check. Too much news pouring in from all over the world causes more anxiety, stress and unnecessary worry.


Funny as it sounds, food really isn’t a problem here. There’s ample amounts of food to go around, and we just need to make sure we don’t hoard supplies. One thing I find myself doing more of instinctively now is drinking lots of water. Staying hydrated is important, especially with weather like this.


Being away from home, coming to LA for the first time and experiencing pretty much a movement restriction and anxiety from worrying about the current situation isn’t very helpful for an already anxious person. We literally came home from the airport straight home, and haven’t left the house except for essentials. I haven’t seen or met anyone of my husband’s family and friends, except for my in-laws as we are staying with them currently. I am fifteen hours behind Malaysia, which means I’m awake when everyone’s asleep, and asleep when everyone’s awake.

What I’ve been trying to do is maintain video calls with friends and family whenever possible, and simply sending texts to check in with folks to make sure they’re doing okay. Seeing familiar faces helps with feeling less isolated, and also helps when I know people are doing okay.

There’s really nothing much that can be done, except listen to the authorities and keep ourselves isolated at home for now. This virus has spread to every corner of the world, and being overwhelmed by this is expected. Even so, let’s try our best to see a bright side- let’s find the silver lining. At the very least, we’re with people we love, and we get to share more meaningful moments and conversations with each other.

On another note, if there is anyone from LA reading this, I’d love to connect.

Till next time. Stay safe and stay home everyone :)



Darshana Balakumaran

Strategy director of Illuminairre, writer and spiritual seeker. Communications professional by day, creative artist by night.