Sticking to a routine is rewarding for many lifestyles. It can help reduce stress levels, promote a healthy mood and even support productivity. Routines also come in many shapes and sizes such as a morning routine, skin care routine or even workout routine.
Although routines are vast in nature, they all have one thing in common.
And that’s where you’ll get the most out of setting a routine for yourself. By focusing on completing tasks at a given time, you’re saving time for yourself to enjoy your passions or even get more sleep (which also helps overall health.)
What is a Routine?
Routines are regular tasks or occurrences that happen repeatedly over time. This could be as simple as brushing your teeth in the morning and night or as specific as planning a workout that targets certain areas of the body. Short term, routines help us meet goals and take care of our daily needs. Long term however, routines are the building blocks for forming healthy habits.
If you get excited about routines, you’re one of the lucky ones. Some folks absolutely love to create charts, lists and keep tidy. Many are born this way, and they are probably also guilty of making homemade greeting cards. If you’re this person, you’re going to love this article.
For the rest of us who may not be as organized, saw that this is a post about routines and hesitated to stay on the page, we’re glad you’re here and you may get the most out of this post if you can hang in there. There’s a lot of good stuff you can pick up to feel better, do better and even be better!
Benefits of a Routine
One of the biggest benefits of routines is their impacts on stress and mood. Routines can help us cope with life changes or events and can help level out stress.1 Along with the brain benefits, routines can also help you commit to healthy habits that encourage a healthy lifestyle for overall wellness.
Routines may also help you feel more productive as you watch your to-do list get smaller and smaller until you’re done. This can also help you feel more focused on the tasks at hand and give you a head start on a successful day.
How to Start a Routine
Anyone can start a routine—it’s sticking with it that gets tricky. Try these tips to turn your routine into habit.
1. Make a To-Do List
It’s easier to stay on track when you have your tasks at hand laid out where you can see. Some people do well with just a list and make time throughout the day as they go, while others may prefer to set time aside and dedicate it to a certain activity. Regardless of what works for you, just be sure you cross things off as you go.
2. Take Small Steps
The key to starting off on the right foot with a new routine is to start out small. It’s easy to get overwhelmed with a to-do list when you’re completely revamping your entire day. Quick, large changes can even cause you to fall out of starting a new routine, so make sure you set yourself up for success.2
Instead of carving out a full day or month, start with something small like a consistent bedtime or taking time for self-care with some mindful meditation in the morning. That way you can see your successes and add more to the list once you feel ready.
3. Personalize Your Routine
It’s important to remember that this routine is made by you, for you. We all have different responsibilities and schedules, so no two routines will look the same, and that’s okay!
Focus your energy on where you want to improve. This can be adding vegetables to every meal, turning off electronics an hour before bed or walking every day for 30 minutes.
Don’t fall into the trap of “you have to wake up at 5:00 sharp every morning or it’s a bust.” You don’t have to be an early bird to stick to a routine, you just have to be consistent.
4. Remove Obstacles That Cause Stress
If your to-do list requires you to make a lot of decisions throughout the day, try to eliminate as many as possible so you can spend less time stressing and more time focused on you.
You can sign up for automatic deliveries for groceries or other essentials so that you don’t have to spend time shopping (and potentially overspending). Meal prep is also a great option if you find yourself rushing through cooking lunch or dinner and overnight oats are a simple solution for a ready-to-eat breakfast.
5. Have Flexibility for When Life Happens
In an ideal (albeit boring) world, it would be easy to not have unexpected surprises creep up during productive hours. Give your schedule some flexibility and give yourself a little grace. If a friend or family member pops by, you’ll be ready.
6. Be Good to Yourself
Habits take some time to form—in fact, it can take anywhere between 18-254 days depending on the person and habit.3 So make sure you still hold yourself accountable but don’t beat yourself up if you miss an item on your list. There’s always room for improvement tomorrow!
We hope this six-step process helps you create your routine and helps give you a jump start for new healthy habits. If you liked this article, you may also enjoy 14 Adaptogens for Stress Support and How to Tackle your Goals.
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Your friends at Swanson
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
1. Williams, J. (2000). Effects of Activity Limitation and Routinization on Mental Health. The Occupational Therapy Journal of Research, 20(1_suppl), 100S-105S. https://doi.org/10.1177/15394492000200S110
2. Arlinghaus, K. R., & Johnston, C. A. (2018). The Importance of Creating Habits and Routine. American journal of lifestyle medicine, 13(2), 142–144. https://doi.org/10.1177/1559827618818044
3. Lallly, P., Van Jaarsveld, C.H.M., Potts, H.W.W., Wardle, J. (2010). How are habits formed: Modelling habit formation in the real world. Eur. J. Soc. Psychol., 40, 998-1009.