Harper O’Neill, MS, LCMHCA
The Importance of a Routine
People tend to think of themselves as either routine oriented, or not so much. Regardless of whether or not people see themselves as creatures of habit, everyone can benefit from incorporating elements of routine into their daily living. By definition, routines are helpful because they promote structure and aid in promoting mental, physical and emotional health.
Having some form of a routine throughout your day can help prevent increased stress levels, poor sleep quality, difficulty with time management, poor eating and poor physical conditions (Health Benefits of Having a Routine). Routines do not have to be difficult - ideally, they should be enjoyable!
Let’s explore simple and effective ways to implement routine based steps into different parts of your day:
-While it may be difficult, waking up around the same time every day can be very helpful to starting your day on a routine. You may notice that once you have woken up around the same time every day for a few days, your body will start to wake up naturally during this time. Having somewhat of a concrete wakeup time is beneficial for cueing into your circadian rhythm which will positively impact other aspects of your overall functioning and wellness (Suni, 2022).
-Try to avoid immediately waking up and getting on technology. A switch that could help with this would be switching out your phone for a regular alarm clock. Many of us use technology to wake us up, which makes an immediate transition to scrolling very easy. Sometimes people find that charging their phones outside of their bedroom is helpful with this as well, and can prevent radiation from electromagnetic fields within your bedroom.
-Eat breakfast before you have any caffeine for the day. This can be a hard adjustment to make, but it will encourage your body to burn the appropriate fuel rather than increasing cortisol and spiking stress hormones first thing in the morning, making people more prone to physical symptoms of anxiety throughout the day (Terranova, 2020).
-Engage in some form of mindfulness before you start your day. There are many ways you can do this, whether it is sitting and taking a few deep breaths before getting out of bed, turning on a meditation or saying a prayer, or spending time meditating on scripture. People tend to notice a shift in their mindset and ability to adapt to the day’s difficulties if they start it off by setting an intention for the day or connecting with their Higher Power.
-We will explore more about environmental wellness and how your environment can impact your ability to feel comfortable in a later post, be mindful of your use of technology within the last hour before you go to sleep and consider adding lighting around your home and bedroom that create a warm ambiance and facilitate healthy sleep. While blue light from cell phones and televisions can impact our bodies in harmful ways when it comes to sleeping, red light can be effective (Pietrangelo, 2021). Consider exploring ways to increase red light as a part of your nighttime routine.
-Increase your use of essential oils around bedtime. Stimulating your olfactory system pathways with pure essential oils can be a great way to physically and mentally calm your body and mind down before bed. Essential oils such as Lavender and Peace and Calming work to promote healthy sleep in children and adults. These oils can be used topically directly on your skin or aromatically, through a diffuser.
-Consider elements of sleep hygiene to relax you before bed. Sometimes people like to stretch or do a light intensity workout before bed such as a walk or yoga to release tension and energy before getting in bed.
-Utilize sound machines or sleep playlists to help you fall asleep quickly. I have found tremendous success in using a playlist of nature sounds for years to fall asleep in less than five minutes. We can work to train our bodies and brains to respond to auditory stimuli as a part of our nighttime routine.
I highly encourage you to consider how to implement even one of these recommendations into your morning or nighttime routine and see what benefits you notice! Stay tuned for more recommendations on easy and practical ways to increase your self care on a daily basis as we explore physical, mental, emotional and spiritual self care coming up on the blog.
Northwestern Medicine. Health benefits of having a routine. Northwestern Medicine. Retrieved from https://www.nm.org/healthbeat/healthy-tips/health-benefits-of-having-a-routine.
Pietrangelo, A. (2021, February 12). Red light at night: How does it affect your sleep and vision? Healthline. Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/health/why-not-to-have-red-lights-on-at-night
Suni, E. (2022, August 29). What is circadian rhythm? Sleep Foundation. Retrieved from https://www.sleepfoundation.org/circadian-rhythm
Terranova, J. (2020, February 17). Drinking coffee to maximize benefits. Thorne. Retrieved from https://www.thorne.com/take-5-daily/article/why-you-should-reconsider-that-morning-cup-of-coffee