Why ROUTINE is so important...

 Give me an R, give me an O, give me an U, T, I, N and E. 

What have we got? ROUTINE!!!

Some people love to have a solid daily routine, while others shudder at the thought of having a predictable schedule. During times of great stress, however, maintaining structure and routine can help you feel more organised and in control. I've always had a pretty solid routine anyway (it's a control thing that's arisen from panic attacks and depression) and even though I'll tweak it, stray off it or even add to it, I totally believe in the importance of routine during times of stress and uncertainty.

Having a routine can be helpful at any time, particularly if you are trying to form healthy habits, but these routines can be particularly important when areas of your life feel uncertain. 

The disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic have dramatically changed many people’s normal routines, which makes it that much harder to cope with the stress that people are feeling. 

A lack of structure and routine can actually increase feelings of distress and make you pay more attention to the source of your problems. One way to get out of this cycle that promotes dwelling over the source of your stress, is to maintain some structure and routine throughout your day.

The benefits of having a routine

Research has consistently shown that routines can play an important role in mental health.One study, for example, found that routines could help people better manage stress and anxiety.2 

Having a regular routine can help you:

  • Lower stress levels
  • Form good daily habits
  • Take better care of your health
  • Help you feel more productive
  • Help you feel more focused.

Getting necessary jobs out of the way can also help you find more time for healthy behaviours like exercise and leave you more time to enjoy fun activities and hobbies. 

My top four tips for helping you maintain a routine when you’re stressed, include:

Focus on things you can control. Start with the basics - waking up and bedtimes, meal times and exercise or movement. The key is to create a routine that adds structure and a sense of predictability to your day. Of course, things may change a little depending on the day of the week, but sticking to a basic structure for when you will wake, eat, work, do activities, and sleep can help you feel less stressed out and more organised. 

Create a routine that's good for your health. Some things that you can make a part of your daily routine to help manage stress levels include:

  • Staying active and getting regular daily exercise - even just 20-30 minutes!
  • Making sure that you are well-rested - don't be staying up late watching brain-numbing trash on tv - even if you don't have to get to work the next day
  • Eating healthy meals on a regular schedule
  • Setting realistic goals - make a to-do list of just three tasks per day maximum
  • Trying to stay positive - affirmations, following inspiring people on social media, reading, NOT watching the news
  • Preparing for challenges but not dwelling on things you can't control
  • Staying in touch with friends and family members
  • Setting aside time for activities that you enjoy.

Make a plan. Make a list of the things that you normally do during the day. Include everything from work to meal prep to household chores. Once you have an idea of the basic tasks you need to accomplish, you can start creating a general outline for what you might need to accomplish each day to stay on track. Use my planner to make this easy!

Remember, it takes time and practice! Just like creating a new habit, starting and sticking to a new routine takes some time and effort. You know yourself best, so if something doesn't seem to be working, try tweaking things to make it work for you.

I like to pay particular attention to how I feel throughout the day - when is my most productive time and when do I feel sluggish or de-motivated. I'm a morning person, so all my 'big tasks' that require focus get slotted in then. In the afternoon when I feel tired I tend to do a little movement, a focusing meditation or get outside for fresh air to wake me up!

I'm a real routine girl - it works for me! You might think straight away it's not your thing, but if you've never tried it, how do you know?

Put some effort in, give it a real good go and just see what happens. I'm not saying you need to be AS structured as me but maybe just take a couple of tips.

Let me know how you get on!

Kate x

1. Arlinghaus KR, Johnston CA. The importance of creating habits and routineAm J Lifestyle Med. 2018;13(2):142–144. doi:10.1177/1559827618818044

2. Eilam D, Izhar R, Mort J. Threat detection: behavioral practices in animals and humans.


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