Not many people like to admit it. Some try to cover it up or play it off. But we’re proud to accept it and say it out loud: we’re stressed.
2020 hasn’t been a great year for many people. COVID-19, job loss, the holidays, and the election are all factors that have been invading people’s lives and affecting their sense of normalcy. We can’t leave our houses the way we used to. We can’t go to the grocery store the way we used to. It’s getting to the point where many people have accepted a new normal.
The mass changes that have been surging up and down throughout this year has left many dealing with stress and anxiety. With each new scenario comes another moment of feeling like you don’t have any control or anything to stay balanced on. Although 2020 hasn’t been an ideal year, perhaps it’s the year you finally add some routines to your life.
Rachel Goldman, A PhD professor at the NYU School of Medicine states that those who don’t have a routine can feel “…increased stress and anxiety, as well as overwhelming feelings, lack of concentration, and focus.” During such unpredictable times, a lack of consistency can even increase those feelings of stress and exacerbate any anxiety that you could already be suffering from. Adding routines to your life has scientifically proven to help relieve stress and anxiety. They actually play an important role in managing your mental health. Just by adding a simple routine to your day, you can reap benefits such as:
Lowering stress levels
Forming better habits for yourself
Feeling more productive
Feeling an increased amount of focus
Most of all, routines are all about doing something that supports your health and wellbeing. Routines can ground you when you’re feeling stressed, allowing you to feel like you have a sense of control in your life. When everything else seems to be running in all different directions, having that schedule or list that you reference everyday gives you a sense of calm and predictability.
One of the great things about incorporating a routine into your life is the ability to make time for the things that are necessary in your life. Whether its for your career or your personal gains, a routine shows your determination to focus on what’s important. Carving out that time allows you to push everything else aside and to get it done. Which gives you the ability to make time for goals and activities that bring you joy, interest, etc. You’re rewarded with a feeling like you’re in control of your life. Focus on what you can control, and the external circumstances don’t dwell so heavily on your conscious.
There isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ kind of schedule that will work for everyone. Some may like a day that’s detailed and timely organized, while others prefer a simple to-do list to keep them on track. Whatever gets you feeling motivated and feeling like your best self is the routine to follow. Patience is key to figuring out what works best for you. Some days may be easier to stay on course while others have you falling into habits you don’t necessarily want to keep. Goldman recommends listening to your body during these moments of feeling less motivated. As you notice a drop in energy, think of something that will inspire you to keep going. Everyone’s body and energy levels are different, and it’s important to recognize when we have our peaks. Experiment with your energy levels and take the time to understand what perks you up when you’re feeling low. Perhaps it’s a walk around the block or fixing yourself a mid-day snack. The better you can keep in tune with your body, the more fitting a ritual you’ll be able to create for yourself.
Taking the time to maintain a routine means you’re taking the time for your health. It can be your physical health and/or your mental health, regardless, your wellbeing is important. Along with important tasks to complete each day, remember to add other goals to your routine that support your health, such as:
Staying active or doing exercises/ workouts
Getting a full night’s sleep
Eating healthy and as often as needed
Staying positive throughout the day
Staying in touch with loved ones, friends, and family
Making time for activities that bring you joy
Prepping for any daily challenges
Give yourself goals that are optimistic and realistic. Every accomplishment is still an accomplishment, no matter how small. Think of the things you’d want to accomplish every day and make that list. Use that list as a starting point for your routines.
Most of all, don’t be hard on yourself. Sometimes plans don’t always go according to…well, plan. As long as you jump on that horse every day, ready to do your best for your health and wellbeing, that’s all that matters. Every good habit takes time. Productive people aren’t created overnight. With time and patience, you can learn to live a less stressed life, achieving your accomplishments day by day.