We are constantly told that routine is the devil, and we should all aim for a life with no set schedule.
But not so fast. In recent years, there’s been a quiet growing of interest in what most people call “the dull routine of existence.” Researchers have found that routine actually has far-reaching psychological benefits, including alleviating bipolar disorder, ADHD, insomnia, and especially everyday anxiety. Here’s the lowdown on some ways a routine might benefit you.
If you’re having a dark cloud above your head and find the start of the week and the thought of doing everything at once — getting dressed, taking a shower, doing your hair, making it in time for that meeting — daunting, you are not alone. Depression can make you wonder why you should bother getting out of bed at all.
Facts about Depression
- Depression symptoms include a lack of energy and motivation.
- Feeling anxious can mean you’re hit with negative thoughts as soon as you wake up.
- Because symptoms are often at their worst in the morning, a life hack is having a routine.
Routine to Alleviate Anxiety and Stress
Routines are automatic which can give you less time to dwell in a negative mindset that often comes with feeling depressed. Managing depression is something that’s always evolving but maintaining regular routines – particularly in the morning, is just one way you can commit to managing life.
Dr. Steve Orma, a clinical psychologist who specializes in treating insomnia, anxiety, and stress, says:
“you need to consistently check in with yourself about what you’re worrying about, then address it. Just as we create routines with exercise for our physical bodies, we should do the same for our mental health. One way to do this is scheduling ‘thinking time’ to think through any problems or worries weighing on you instead of letting them build up.”
This is one reason routine like journaling can be helpful for those who struggle with anxiety.
“Routine also helps with stress … Create a set schedule for doing chores, work tasks, meetings, exercise, paying bills, and all the usual things you need to do. Put these into your schedule. Once this becomes your normal routine, it’s easier to accomplish everything, because it becomes habit.”
Admittedly, as a paperwork-phobe, I can strongly relate to this: since I started setting aside 15 minutes a day to keep on top of life admin, instead of letting it grow into a mountain I die on every few months, I sleep better and enjoy each day more.
How to Create a Great (Morning) Routine
It can seem daunting seeing the many things we are told we must do to guarantee an optimal day. However, starting with a simple actions and slowly building on it, is most effective. Below are small steps you can take to start your day on a good note and one that is bound to ward off and or quell an anxious thought.
These four habits are holistic and address physical, mental, and spiritual elements. the time for each activity can be extended or condensed depending on the amount of time you have:
1. Drink warm lemon water. Your body becomes incredibly dehydrated while you’re sleeping. When you’re dehydrated, your brain has less fuel to operate.
2. List three things you are grateful for. Spending some time each morning feeding your mind with something positive such as prayer, meditation, reading an inspiring book, will effect your energy and productivity.
3. Move your body. When we sleep, our muscles are inactive for long periods of time, blood flow decreases and less oxygen is in the muscle tissue. Stretching helps to increase flexibility and wake up your muscles.
If you find what works for you and then turn it into a process that requires zero thought, you free your mind for more important things. Once you have your routine, give it a little time and it’ll start to feel like second nature.