Believe it or not, yes, a schedule – at least a routine – is a powerful tool against anxiety, depression, and stress.
The benefits of having a routine you’re settled into are boundless. The routines I’ve developed for my own life give me:
- Proper diet
- Better sleep
- A clean home
- Space to breathe
- Physical activity
- Mental challenges (that aren’t just the “now what bill do we pay?” type)
- Free time to goof off
And that’s just the list I can think of in the past minute or two. None of my routines started overnight, though. Each has grown out of a need, and I use a variety of tools to keep me on track so I don’t start a routine and then fail and feel worse. Let’s look at a couple and see if it inspires you.Each night I get an alert from my phone to warn me that bedtime is approaching. When I get that alert, I’ll wrap up what I’m working on, walk the dog, make my tea, and start settling myself into the idea that I’m going to go to bed. Though the alert tells me when, it doesn’t tell me what. My actual routine shifts based on what I need, and that’s a thing I think we tend to forget to look at. Routines are meant to help us, not chain us.
Do I need to veg out with a TV show, or do I need to read a book? Which will help me more? Maybe I just need to listen to some music and enjoy my tea.
It depends on the night. So long as I’ve walked the dog and made my tea, the rest doesn’t really matter so long as it helps me get ready for bed.
Later in the evening, I get a reminder from a medication app telling me it’s time to take those. That lets me know I have 30 minutes to wrap things up, do the teeth brushing and such, and get into bed.
I sleep better. I wake up feeling rested. I even experience fewer asthma and arthritis symptoms, all because I let myself have a routine.
Other routines I use center around protecting my space for the morning, getting ready for work, meditation, exercise, and even keeping up with friends and family. (Sorry everyone, yes, I scheduled a time when I’m going to reach out to people because if I don’t, I’ll forget!) Even maintaining this blog is due to a routine. I choose content based on which day it is, and man, that is crazy helpful because YOU get a consistent feed of information and *I* don’t go insane trying to decide what to write next!
My phone is a phenomenal aid in all this. Alerts from various apps, reminders ahead of events, even birthdays and anniversaries all go into the calendar. I also use dry erase boards. I have some on my desk and fridge, and a large calendar. Other things you can use to help with your own routines are post-it notes or index cards with reminders where you’ll see them. A timer for routines that need a time limit.
The options are truly limitless and the best part is, it’s all up to you. Do you want to set a routine for getting your day going? Decide what it needs, what parts can be flexible, and then start trying it out. Adjust timing as you go. (I promise, you’ll need to.)
Try one, fail, try another. As you build in routines that help you take care of yourself, you’ll begin to see the benefits manifesting in your life. You’ll be more calm, more resilient, and feel better about life overall.
Best of luck, and I mean it. Not because you need it, but because I hope you find the perfect combination for yourself!
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