Routines are an important part of our daily lives and important for our mental health. As many of us have New Year’s resolutions and goals, now is a great time to learn how to create and stick to a routine.
Routines allow us to manage the multitude of tasks that we juggle daily. According to Mental Health America strong routines are correlated with better sleep, a healthier diet, and better mental health. “Psychological Benefits of Routines” from WebMD explains the many benefits associated with keeping a routine – including better sleep, less stress, better time management, and increased positive mood.
When creating a new routine it is important to focus on things that you can control – such as sleep, diet, exercise, and even work. According to Kendra Cherry’s article “The Importance of Maintaining Structure and Routine During Stressful Times,” published in VeryWellMind, having a routine allows you to take better control of your life, be more productive, and feel more focused on the task at hand. Cherry mentions the importance of picking a routine that supports your mental and physical health – such as understanding when you are more productive (morning or afternoon) and scheduling tasks during those times. In agreement with Cherry’s article Lindsay Tigar’s article “Your Daily Routines Aren’t Mundane—They’re Actually Keeping You Sane and Healthy (It’s Science)” also discusses the way in which routines allow you to better manage your time as everything is planned out. Tigar also mentions how routines can provide comfort to people as it allows them to predict what is going to happen next in their day or week.
Unfortunately, having the motivation to create a routine is not enough – it does take a bit of work to get things in order. Tara Parker-Pope’s article “How to Build Healthy Habits” from the New York Times mentions pairing a new habit or task with an old one, for example try meal prepping during dinner clean-up that way your left overs are put away and lunch is ready for tomorrow. AARP’s article “How to Create Healthy Habits — and Get them to Stick” explains the importance of starting small and specific for a new routine or habit as it is less likely that you will give up this new pattern. Starting small also allows you to make mistakes without giving up the new routine completely – remember it’s okay to have a “cheat” day. “8 Steps to Create a Healthy Routine” by Mental Health America mentions the importance of planning ahead with routines as well, because your summer routine may change slightly compared to your winter routine. This article also provides a great worksheet to help plan and implement a new routine or habit in your life.
We hope this encourages you to try creating a routine for yourself and your family – remember kids learn from modeled behavior!