If there is one thing that many of us could do with more of right now, it’s routine. Yes, everyday may seem the same with few places to go but that isn’t the same as having a routine.
Whether you’re now working from home, are unable to work, or simply have increased demands on your time, it is likely that the change feels like daily life has been emptied out onto the table and thrown back in with no sense of order. We are constantly trying to work out what we should do next.
The benefits of introducing a pre-planned routine therefore are numerous. As human beings we need routine to give us stability and remove the requirement to make choices. Choices lead to decision fatigue, overwhelming us and leading to anxiety. This is not something we need. Routine also gives us more control, makes us more organised – even us messy people! – and therefore contributes to lowered stress levels.
Having a routine removes requirements for motivation to do something. It’s all in the getting started of course, but once that routine is set and performed a few times, it becomes second nature. A habit. After all, a routine is just a number of habits performed together in a particular order.
Many of us already have some routines and we often enjoy them: Sunday dinner with parents, Taco Tuesday, film night on a Friday, pizza on a Saturday. Whatever it is, we like the familiarity and the structure and the lack of a need to think what we need to do next.
Note I referred to pre-planned routines. It is likely that you have already developed some routines by default of late but this is just survival mode kicking in, creating the comfort of a routine that isn’t feeding the emotional side of the brain and the need to feel like we are “winning the day”.
So what routines to add? Here are five routines you should have in your life right now.
- Morning Routine
- Evening Routine
- Weekly Meal Planning Routine
- Exercise Routine
- Self-care Routine
A Morning Routine
Get your day off to a good start and create a morning routine that ensures everyone in the house is clothed and fed without a hitch and arrival at work is un-rushed (even if that is just a desk at the end of the bed). Incorporate time to sit and eat breakfast, rather than eating it stood up whilst doing your hair or seeing to everyone else. Make time to fully wake up and contemplate the day ahead.
An Evening Routine
Every good morning routine starts with a good evening routine. You want to incorporate tasks that will allow you to rise the next day knowing what you will be wearing, what you will be eating and where everyone will be. This includes children. Prepare now for what you want them to be doing the next day, involving them in the discussion where necessary.
Of course, an evening routine also helps to set our body clocks and prepare for sleep.
A Meal Planning Routine
how often do you get asked, even by yourself, “what’s for tea?”. As we all want to limit the number of times we go shopping, this might be the most useful to us but many of us don’t plan our meals for the week.
Getting into a weekly habit of planning meals for the next week allows us to plan our shopping trips better, use up food before it goes off and create less waste, and remove the constant decision. Who wouldn’t be up for that?
An Exercise Routine
Exercise has great potential for improving mental health as well as physical. I published a post on workouts from home a few weeks ago as there are lots of options on the internet right now. However, if all you can manage to create time for is a brief walk around the block, then go for it. Doing it at the same time every day will give you something to build around. Of course, stay safe out there.
A Self-Care Routine
Whilst this is last on the list, it is by no means the least important.We often see “self-care” as indulgent but it doesn’t have to be. It can be as simple as allowing yourself a few minutes to sit and read a book in the morning with your tea or coffee, or make sure that you have removed make-up before bed, or just get to bed that bit earlier. The point – make sure that you are looking after yourself and enjoying that process of doing so.
If you are planning to incorporate some routines into your life, try to combine the “must-do” with some “could do” so that you can have some leeway for the unexpected, again reducing the level of stress you will experience.
Yes, routines will have some sort of scheduling going on but how much pressure they contain will be down to you. There are lots of other routines that you might set up in addition to or instead of those above. You might have one for cleaning and laundry, or for hobbies and leisure activities. Don’t forget to leave time for just being – not all of the day needs action.
Whatever you decide to incorporate into your day to day will help you to build good habits for the future and help to eliminate those bad ones that might have started to creep in.
Best wishes and stay safe,
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Ear Worm: Daily Routine, Disq