• Rebecca Watts

Our Daily Routine - where did it go?

We go through day to day in out normal routines, then all of a sudden life drastically changes - coronavirus. You no longer go to work (most), the gym, the pub or socialise with friends or family - many of our usual habits dropped over night.

- What effect does this have on your physical and mental health?

- Does it really matter? Cant we just have a rest from life?

Why we need routines?

Routines start when we are young - they are ground into our brains at an early age. As a child we were introduced to routines - meal times, bed times, bath times, play times, nap times to give us a sense of stability and security. Routines were encouraged as part of our brain development. So it is not a surprise that we rely on them so much now.

Routines are generally the habits and behaviours we continue day to day, week to week, month to month….in a large part, they determine who we are.

Thus routines give us an anchor to normality for our busy lives.

They help us keep going when things get tough - keeping us sane

Keeps stress at bay

Routines have been shown to help keep stress at bay. They can reduce the amount of day to day decision making, or procastinating. Routines helps us get things done without too much tought, they keep us on track and motivated.

Makes us efficient

a routine such as breakfast - exercise - shower - dress - commute, each day can take away many small decisions, allowing us concentrate on the bigger decisions and actions. Freeing up time and brain power to be more productive with our time.

Develop habits

Routines can help us to develop good habits and help reduce bad ones. A routine can help you prioritise tasks and behaviours, and if you manage them right can help prioritise you, your goals and your health through healthy habits and routines.

Physical & Mental Health

A basic routine should address our basic needs - nutrition, sleep, rest, stimulation and activity. Thus healthy routines have a positive effect on our physical and mental wellbeing. BUT an unhealthy routine can have an adverse effect - ie - not getting enough sleep can throw out our metabolism, our hormone regulation, our immune system

Frees your creativity

By taking away the smaller day to day decisions it frees up our time and mind to be more creative with the important things, less tied to day to day tasks.

Protects from self destruction

We all differ significantly but for many, if left to our own devises without routines can often concentrate more on self destructive habits and behaviours - poor nutrition, drugs, alcohol, late nights, inactivity…… Daily healthy routines can reduce our inner self destruction

Lockdown and Routine

So many people have already fallen into the lost routine syndrome, bored but finding it difficult to motivate themselves to do anything, struggling mentally.

For many, who set new routines when lockdown began, will most likely be finding lockdown easier, some may even be enjoying the new routines.

For those that have fallen out of routines and struggling, it may be time to develop a new daily routine. Here are a few tips….

  • Don’t overhaul you life, try to stick with similar patterns to pre lockdown - your body will adapt quicker to less change now and when you get back to normal life.

  • A good morning routine can set you up for the day, especially when your day involves staying at home - get up at a reasonable time, shower, get dressed, get some fresh air and stretch.

  • Try to use the extra time (usually spent at the pub, commuting to work…) productively by prioritising time for yourself - exercise, food prep, reading, relaxing / meditating, Maybe its time to learn something new - self develop. By introducing new you habits now, it will be easier to continue after.

  • Try not to get absorbed by social media. With the lack of our normal face to face relationships its easy to turn to social media to replace the interaction and the next thing 3 hours as passed by. Set yourself times for social media time, video / calling friends and family. You wouldn’t do it at work so try and keep to normal times.

  • Don’t beat yourself up. We all have good and bad days in our normal lives so why should lockdown be any different. if you are having a bad day - let it be that and move on and motivate the next. Think 80/20 rule - it works with most things.

  • Ensure you allow downtime out of routine. If sunday was your relaxing day with no plans / routines continue it.

Don’t let them confine you

Routines are a part of our life, we are creatures of comfort and routine, however the level of routine needed can vary from person to person.

For some, having a morning routine to get to work and our normal work structure is enough. Others need more defined structures - in particular people suffering with mental health or conditions such as autism, adhd etc - routine can be incredibly important to ensure effective functioning.

Even if you are just going through a bad / difficult time - boosting your routine may be the savour - keeping you busy, having less decisions to worry about, allowing time to prioritise yourself.

This time is also the perfect time to think about and reflect on your previous routines. You will probably find that this time in isolation makes you want to do things differently, change some things. Sometimes routines can also be confining. They can make us feel trapped, lost, bored…..sometimes without us even knowing.

Time to time we need to refresh routines - review them - some have slipped, some need updating. - Remind yourself of your goals behind the routine,

- Are your goals still the same? - change accordingly,

- Add new things so keep up creativity and interest

- Consider your life / for balance - you time. your relationships

- Take a routine break - a weekend reading a book, time exploring a different country, a week in a forest or at the beach