13Jan

Ready Set Routine

Anyone who knows me will tell you that I am the type of person who thrives on her routine. For someone Type A like myself, there’s something about having control over the structure of my day that brings me a sense of satisfaction and stability in my ever changing, chaotic life. Routine’s not only help us to stay on track of completing our daily tasks, but they also help us to create and maintain healthy habits for a healthy lifestyle. A routine can be as simple as having breakfast at the same time every day or as complex as following a daily, hourly, play-by-play. Some people like to follow a morning routine that may include completing a short meditation or yoga sequence shortly after waking up, before or after their morning cup of coffee or tea. Other’s might like to follow an evening routine that includes a particular face washing regimen or time spent reading their favorite book. I even have friends that follow the same routine consistently throughout their day—waking up at a certain time, exercising at a certain time, grocery shopping, etc. Whatever it may be, following a routine and having some sort of daily structure can create a happier, more balanced life.

You might be asking yourself, what should I include in my daily routine? The thing that’s so great about routines is that they can be completely individualized and tailored to each person or situation. Depending on what you want to get out of your day or routine, you can alter how you structure it. There are also many things you can add to your routine that help you to live that happy life we are striving for— let’s take a look at a few of my personal favorites.

• Daily Exercise

Exercise… that dreaded word that makes people cringe. While exercise is probably one of the most important healthy habits to get into, it can also be one of the most stressful for people. The thought of going to the gym can be extremely overwhelming and anxiety provoking. And sometimes, the hardest part is just finding the motivation to do it. Especially if you struggle with depression or anxiety, finding that push can be extremely difficult. My advice: don’t let exercise be an overwhelming experience. Take it slow. Go outside and walk the block or take your bike for a ride around the neighborhood. Exercising doesn’t have to be an hour-long spin class or an expensive gym membership. The idea here is to just get yourself moving and raise your heart rate for a few minutes. If you can give yourself 20 minutes of movement every day, you will not only feel better, but you might see improvement in your ability to focus, allowing you to take on each day with a little bit more clarity then the day before.

• Gratitude

When life is hard and you feel like you’re struggling, it can be easy to find yourself falling into a rut of constant negativity. Don’t get me wrong, life can be hard and a lot of our struggles are often out of our control, but practicing gratitude allows us to regain some of that control and requires us to focus on the brighter areas of our lives. There are many ways you can practice gratitude. You can start by writing it down in a journal or setting aside the time to share with your family or friends. Some families include gratitude as part of their nightly dinner routine in which they will go around the table and every person will say something they are thankful for. It does not have to be complicated and it’s not supposed to add any stress. If anything, try to look at it as a perspective shift. And if you find yourself struggling to find something to be grateful for, just remind yourself that you woke up today and it’s up to you to choose your outlook for the day.

• “Me-Time”

“Me-Time.” I cannot stress this one enough—my clients would tell you that I say this almost every session. It is so important to make sure you are taking at least 5 minutes at some point, every day, doing something for you. Whether it is meditating or doing yoga or singing a song or reading a book, just giving yourself that time every day is crucial for a healthy mental wellbeing. We spend so much of our time at work or doing chores or taking care of other people, so we need to make sure we are taking care of ourselves too. By building some “me-time” into your routine or schedule, you are giving yourself a little something to look forward to everyday, which in turn will lead to a happier and healthier life.

• Meditation

Meditation is one of my favorites because it almost forces us to partake in some sort of relaxation. When I say meditation, I am not necessarily referring to humming in lotus position. While this is definitely a type of meditation that many people do enjoy, it is not the only type of meditation there is. Meditation looks different for everyone. Meditation can be sitting in silence, closing your eyes, taking deep breaths, practicing mindfulness or just being present and aware of your surroundings. Meditation can also be practicing yoga or even taking a hot bath or shower. It doesn’t have to take 20 minutes and it doesn’t have to be this great, complex practice. Meditation is more about taking a few minutes to allow your brain the space to relax and recharge. Frequent practice improves concentration and raises those “happiness hormones” in your brain. Try to focus on frequency, not on length.

• Be Intentional

When I say be intentional, I literally mean, “actually doing what you were planning on doing.” When you are exercising, put in the effort to raise your heart rate. When you are practicing gratitude or meditation, make sure you are staying on track and being intentional while doing so. You might get distracted and that’s okay, but bring yourself back and reset your mindset. When you are intentional with whatever you are doing, you are going to get the most out of the experience and reap the most benefits.

If you are finding yourself in a rut and having a hard time creating or maintaining a sense of structure or routine, please contact Life Enhancement Counseling Services today at 407-443-8862 to schedule an appointment with one of our experienced Orlando mental health counselors. Let’s kick 2020 off on the right foot together.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Christine Blackwell