How Having a Daily Routine Can Impact Your Life
One thing that I recommend to all my clients, no matter the mental health struggle, is to come up with some daily routines. The goal is to stick to the routine at least 95% of the time. There may be some days you are sick, or you may choose to have one day a week that you relax, but otherwise, follow through on them most of the time. There are a lot of reasons I believe in and advocate for routines. Routines give us structure, they give us predictability when a lot of the world feels unpredictable, they are a method for meeting your goals, they help us organize our day, be more present focused and goal oriented, minimize impulsivity, and better manage procrastination tendencies. There are LOTS of proven benefits of routines.
My biggest reason in advocating for routines is the intentionality you create in your life each day. I look back on times of my life when I lived without routine, I was basically living life at the whim of whatever emotion or situation came up that day. I had a lot of anxiety, and a lot of self-doubt. I’m not necessarily claiming that routines will eradicate anxiety and self-doubt, but I honestly believe that the specific practices I incorporate in my routine have been the most impactful influence on my mental well-being. Even if you don’t struggle with anxiety or depression or insecurity, having a morning routine that sets you up for mental success will definitely improve your perspective during the day, and help you create a more successful lifestyle. Remember, routines do not have to be super strict, you can identify areas of flexibility within your routine to ensure the routine honors your true goals.
I challenge each of my clients to come up with a routine that honors all aspects of health: mental, physical, and spiritual. Tending to each of these, especially first thing in the morning is crucial in developing positive habits, and ensuring you live an intentional life. Think about goals you have with each of these aspects of health. Goals like “feel more peace,” “build more self-confidence,” “be healthier overall,” “lose weight” “trust my body more,” “feel happier,” etc. Choose tasks that align with these goals.
Examples of these are listed below:
- Journal your thoughts and emotions or use a journal prompt for self-reflection
- Read a self-help book
- Listen to an encouraging or educational podcast
- Practice gratitude
- Practice repeating positive affirmations
- Call a friend or family member that you know will add positivity to your day
- Do a morning yoga sequence
- Do some deep stretching
- Go on a walk
- Do an at home work-out
- Go to the gym
- Go on a run
- Dance to your favorite music
- Practice Loving-Kindness
- Read a spiritually focused book
- Practice mindfulness- just observing your breath and being present in the moment
- Do some deep breathing while focusing on a mantra
- Set intentions for the day
Every morning I try to wake up at the same time. 7:30 is my goal. Because I have some physical disorders that lead to chronic pain, I keep this flexible so I can stay in tune with what my body needs. However, I have learned the difference between really needing to sleep more and just wanting to be lazy! If I’m having a hard time waking up, I play an upbeat song on my phone that makes me want to dance. One of my go-to songs is “Stayin Alive” by the Bee Gees. Next, I take care of the dogs and the chickens, and then I turn a podcast. I usually listen to an episode of The Mindset Mentor with Rob Dial or The Emotional Entrepreneur by Scout Sobel. While I’m listening to the podcast, I make a yummy latte and chocolate protein smoothie- the same every single morning. I sit with my latte and my smoothie and drink while I take notes on the podcast or write at least one quote as a takeaway from the podcast. Then I write out in my journal my morning routine checklist:
- Gratitude Journaling
- Intention Setting
- Exercise 30 minutes
- 5 Minute Mirror Exercise
When the podcast is over, I decide if I feel like starting with a meditation or starting with journaling. I often like to start with a meditation because it gets me in a reflective mindset. I use the App Insight Timer and I choose either a Loving-Kindness meditation, a morning energy meditation, a release anxiety meditation, or whatever I feel like focusing on that day. I do at least 5 minutes, but my favorites are usually the 15-minute-long ones.
Then I spend at least 5 minutes writing down things I am grateful for. I try not to write the same thing over and over again, but sometimes its hard not to! There are some things I truly feel grateful for every day like owning my own practice, having unlimited potential in growing my business, having constant love and support from my husband, having an amazing family. Gratitude journaling always gets me in a positive mindset and reminds me to never take these things for granted.
Then I start writing intentions I have for the day. I write things like “maintain a peaceful mindset,” “let go of anxiety,” “focus on my goals,” “be a better person than I was yesterday,” etc. I try to connect with what comes to mind and give each thing I write a moment of reflection to visualize how I will focus on these intentions throughout the day. In shifting my perspective and setting intentions for how I show up during the day, I ensure each day that I will be true to myself and who I ultimately want to be in this life.
Next, I write affirmations. Sometimes I write the same things every day, sometimes I make new ones. Affirmations are things we want to believe about ourselves, even if it is hard to connect with in the moment. These can be things you want to believe as well as things you want to manifest. Mine are often, “I am capable,” “I am already successful,” “I am beautiful inside and out,” “I choose to focus on what is good and peaceful and uplifting, and not to dwell on the negative,” “I choose to be kind,” “I choose to live my best life.”
Then I exercise. I don’t like to be strict with myself about exercise. Sometimes when I am too strict, I feel myself disconnecting with my true purpose of exercise, and I start ignoring my body’s signals. Instead, I focus on getting movement in my body for at least 30 minutes and staying in tune with what my body needs that day. Sometimes I do a HIIT ride on the Peloton, or a 30-minute full body strength class through the app. Sometimes I do gentle yoga or a 30-minute full body stretch. Some days I go on a walk. Some days I do a little bit of Peloton, a little bit of stretching, and a little bit of strength training. Most days I have the energy to do the harder work, but on days where I don’t feel that energy, I still get the movement, but I choose a gentler form of exercise.
My last task on my morning routine is “5-minute mirror exercise.” This is a vulnerable one to share! This is something I learned from one of the podcasts I listen to, and only very recently added to my routine. I stand in my bathroom and look in the mirror for 5 minutes and repeatedly tell myself “I love you.” I look at all the imperfections on my body and tell those parts I love them. I tell my body I am grateful for what it does for me, and that I love it no matter what. When I first started doing this, I felt super awkward and couldn’t stop imagining how embarrassed I would feel if someone walked in on me. But I tried to push through that, and let that go, and focus on how this practice would benefit me. Since I’ve added this practice to my routine, I notice a huge shift in my confidence, my self love, and I feel like I see myself differently when I look in the mirror. I find myself letting go of the desire to look perfect and instead focus on ways I am already beautiful, and I notice all the ways my body is changing as I do more to take care of myself.
What routines do you have? Do you have anything you want to add to your routines? Comment below!