One of the most important determinants of maintaining mental wellness is having a routine. This post will help you get started so that you can set and meet goals and create daily habits.
I held a workshop in April 2019 at the Mental and Behavioral Health Conference in Cal State LA. That workshop highlighted 4 essential factors that can improve your mental health. In my last post, I wrote about the importance of stress management.
In this post, I will write about how to create a routine that will help you keep focused, set goals, and stay mentally stimulated and healthy during the stay-at-home directives caused by COVID-19.
If you'd like to get started, you can find a template to build your routine here.
The Benefits of Creating a Routine
Creating a routine and using a planner can feel like such a chore sometimes and conjures images of a highly regimented lifestyle that has no flexibility. However, not all routines are the same because everyone's needs are different! A routine that suits your goals might not be right for my goals. I like a semi-flexible routine but regardless of the flexibility that your routine affords you, here is a quick rundown of the benefits that a routine can have:
1. It serves as an anchor that can reduce stress and anxiety.
One of the major causes of stress and anxiety is uncertainty and the feeling of having no control. When you create a routine, you eliminate some uncertainty from your life by having you day-to-day outlined. Even if it isn't hour to hour, a simple list of tasks to complete can do wonders for your anxiety.
2. It can help you establish healthy habits and accomplish your goals.
One of the most important tools for personal development is goal-setting and creating habits that can help you reach those goals. Whether that is starting a meditation practice, daily breathing exercises, learning new skills to increase your job search competitiveness or reading more about your industry, establishing a highly personalized routine can help you on your road to self-improvement.
3. Schedule the activities that are important for you.
Often times, life, work, and school can prevent us from doing the things that are important to us. Building a schedule can help you organize your time so that you can spend more time with your loved ones, read, develop new skills and clean that closet you've been putting off.
Tips for a Creating Your Routine
Here is a template to build your routine that I used in my workshop. First, here are some quick tips to make adherence to your new routine a success:
1. Keep it flexible by creating a list of tasks; then, add more structure if you'd like.
2. Structure your day into 3s - morning, midday, and evening - to make it easier for you to track your flexible routine.
3. Track your progress and habits to become better informed about how you want to improve and the type of routine structure that better suits you.
How to Create your Routine
1. Based on your sleep needs, determine the time you will start your day and the time that you need to sleep. Consistency is key here!
My next post will speak on the importance of a regular sleep routine and how you can reset your clock and create a sleep routine.
2. Determine the tasks that you must complete each day.
These tasks go beyond the tasks that are already daily habits like brushing your teeth. If you are a job seeker, that daily task might be engaging with your network and applying to a set number of positions.
3. Determine which tasks are important to you.
For me, that is checking in on my friends and doing at least one activity a day that brings me joy or relaxation. Find out what it looks like for you and figure out how long it would take to incorporate it into your day.
4. Determine the tasks that you would like to make a daily habit.
Currently, I am incorporating learning a new skill through LinkedIn Learning and Codecademy as a daily habit. I finish at least one lesson a day. Maybe you want to incorporate one of the exercises I outlined in my stress management post or maybe you have other habits that you would like. Either way, make sure that you make time for those as well!
I genuinely hope that this helps you begin to build a routine that will help you during this unprecedented time. At the very least, I hope it helps you start your search for other resources to help you build a routine. My next post will focus on creating a sleep routine to compliment your daily routine.