A daily and weekly routine can help reduce stress and lead to better sleep and health overall. However, maintaining a routine can be a bit tough, especially if you’ve never really had one before or if you have a lot of things going on in your life (like trying to stick with a yoga routine when you have gastrointestinal issues or going for runs when you have 3 kids under the age o). Follow these eight tips to maintain your routine:
Sleep at the same time every day.
As tempting as it may be to stay up late and then sleep in on the weekends, try to resist this urge. Sticking to a regular sleep schedule, even on your off days, is one of the most important things you can do to maintain a regular routine. Sleeping and waking at the same times helps keep your body’s internal rhythm on a regular cadence. Eventually, you might even be able to wake up without an alarm, simply because your body is so used to getting up at the same time.
Consider your circadian rhythm.
As you think about your routine, consider your circadian rhythm, aka your body’s internal clock. Your circadian rhythm influences not only when you feel sleepy, but also when your energy peaks during the day. These peaks are different for everyone. Some people are early birds, others are most alert in the afternoons and still others are night owls. When creating and maintaining a routine, try to schedule tasks that require the most energy for the times of day when you will be most alert. There’s no right or wrong answer. It’s all about what works best for your body and mind.
Follow your morning ritual.
Most people have some kind of morning routine, and if you don’t, you should totally create one. For many people, their morning routine consists of brushing their teeth, perhaps taking a shower, doing their skincare and other personal hygiene tasks, getting dressed for the day and so on. Having a ritual that you stick to every morning will cue your body that it’s time to wake up and help you ease into the day. While you might have a slightly different morning routine for weekdays and weekends — for instance, you might not wear makeup on your off days — try to keep your routine as standard as possible to create that sense of rhythm.
Stick to regular mealtimes.
Similar to your sleep schedule, eating meals at the same time each day will help you maintain a routine. It will also help you keep your energy levels more consistent, as going too long without food will cause your blood sugar levels to crash. If you find that cooking is a barrier for you, consider meal prepping on weekends or engaging a meal delivery service. If you have dietary restrictions, you can now find meal subscriptions for everything from veganism to IBS diet plans. This is especially helpful during busy weeks when you barely have time to eat, let alone cook.
Keep regular work hours.
As the pandemic drags on, many people are crossing the one-year mark of working remotely. While working from home has many perks, it does make it really easy to maintain irregular working hours, or let your work eat into your free time on evenings and weekends. Figure out a schedule of work hours that still leaves you some down time and do your best to stick to it. While you might need to work a little late occasionally, striving for routine working hours on most days really will make a big difference.
Maintain your exercise program.
Exercise is another key aspect of your day that can help you maintain a routine. Whatever time of day you prefer to work out — morning, afternoon or evening — choose one that will make it easy on you. If you’re too groggy in the morning for physical movement, don’t work out then, no matter what anyone says. Do try not to do very intense exercises right before bed, as the rush of adrenaline and hormones will temporarily wake you up, making it difficult to drift off. If you don’t work out every day, exercising on the same days each week (such as Monday, Wednesday and Friday) will further contribute to a sense of routine.
Have evening and night routines.
You’re after work and before bed routines are just as important as your morning ritual. An evening routine will help you transition from the workday to your evening off, and your nighttime routine will help you wind down before bed, just as your morning routine helps you wake up. These routines don’t have to be long and elaborate, but they should be consistent to promote that feeling of routine. For your nighttime routine, steer away from activities that will wake you up, such as using screens with bright lights.
Be sure to leave some down time.
Having a routine doesn’t mean that every single hour of your life should be scheduled out. It’s good and healthy to have chunks of down time in your day and week so you can rest and recharge without worrying about what you “need” to be doing. A routine is there to serve you, not the other way around. If you find yourself stressed out by trying to maintain your routine or feeling like you “have” to do too many things in a day, then it might be time to re-evaluate things and consider paring back your routine to make it less involved.
Whether it’s a low-FODMAP meal delivery service or a daily exercise program, having a routine can help promote mental and physical well-being. Try one or more of these eight tips to maintain your daily and weekly routines.