There is no denying that 7 weeks in pandemic lockdown is starting to feel like an eternity. And for many, the cabin fever is starting to set in. Even if you’ve never had any issues with mental health before, you may have noticed some feelings of anxiety, unrest or stress creeping up on you. Don’t worry, we’re all feeling that right now! And part of the reason for that could be the fact that your normal routine has been turned upside down and back to front. Because believe it or not, routines are really important for our mental wellbeing, and when they are disturbed, we can feel a little lost unsettled and off-kilter.
The Benefits of a Routine
There has been a lot of research done into routines, and the impact having a routine can have on your life vs not having one. And odds are even if you didn’t consciously set a routine in your life before Covid-19, you still had one. It’s something we naturally do wherever we can, which is why everything feels so odd now that your normal routine had gone out of the window. Just a few benefits to having a good routine include:
- Better mental health: Predictable, repetitive routines have been proven to be calming and actually help reduce anxiety. This is partly because they give you a sense of control over your day, and that then expands out into feeling in control of your life. There is also a sense of relief in achieving everything you need to do, which in turn reduces anxiety and stress.
- Make better decisions: A routine means you don’t spend valuable energy trying to figure out when to fit things in, how to balance everything during your day and constantly rearranging the mental to do list. Instead you can almost to the basics on autopilot, allowing you to save your brainpower and focus for bigger decisions.
- Improved sleep: This is particularly important around bedtime. A regular bedtime routine is essential to good sleep hygiene. This can include things like turning off your electronics an hour before bed, reading, meditating, or having a warm bath. Even something as simple as brushing your teeth, washing your face and getting changed can send signals to your brain that it’s time to sleep, which in turn improves the quality and duration of your sleep naturally.
- More time for loved ones: A routine generally makes your days more efficient, which means you have more time to do the things you love, and spend time with your loved ones. Even if your family’s schedule is hectic, something as simple as a weekly family dinner routine is a great way to reconnect with your loved ones at the end of the day. During the Covid-19 pandemic, you might even be able to do this more!
How to Make a Routine Work for You
- Work around your patterns: Everyone has their own unique patterns, rhythms, and ways of working. You will know when your productive periods are during the day, when you have no energy, and when you tend to have a bit of free time. Work with those rhythms, not against them, and your routine will feel more familiar and simple to slip into.
- Complete daily tasks at the same time: If there is one task you need to do every day, like helping the kids with homework, sending a client report, or loading the dishwasher, try to do it at the same time every day. This helps you carve out time to finish the task, without worrying about how to fit it into your growing to-do list.
- Remove variables: Where you can. Obviously you can’t remove every variable from your day, but with a little planning you can eliminate a lot of them. For example, if getting dressed for work in the morning leaves you feeling anxious (maybe you feel like you have nothing to wear, even though you do?), then choosing your outfit the previous night and laying it out can prevent that. Do you struggle to cook a good meal each night, and so resort to take away and ready meals more often than you would like? Spend some time on a Sunday preparing meals for the week. Or make sure you cook a double batch of your easy to freeze meals so you have a go-to healthy option in the freezer. Removing these stumbling blocks can not only make up part of your routine, but also make it much easier to stick to one.
Obviously, we recognise just how important routines are, and have been doing our best to keep routines for ourselves and our patients as normal as possible. That’s why one of the many online seminars and workshops we’re running is on how to create a new routine that works for you during these uncertain times. We’re running these seminars regularly, so you can drop into one that works for you and pick up some useful tips and tricks. It only costs £2.50 to attend, and you can register here. Or, if you would like to discuss more one-on-one help, just get in touch with the clinic today to see how we can support you.