Some people thrive on organization and order, while others may cringe at the idea of adhering to a set schedule. But no matter where you fall on the spectrum, maintaining some routines in your day can have some serious benefits for your mental and physical health.
In this article, we’re going to break down why having routines is good for your overall well-being and four healthy habits you can start today!
Why are routines important?
First and foremost, routines are one of the best ways to keep us grounded. In stressful times, routines give us a much-needed sense of control and structure that help keep us anchored. As Rachel Goldman, a psychologist and clinical assistant professor at the NYU School of Medicine, elaborates: “If people don't have structure and are sitting around with less to focus on, then they also probably will find themselves thinking about the stressful situation more, which can also lead to additional stress and anxiety."
But no matter what is going on around you, routines are also the catalyst for setting good lifestyle habits. Having routines that nourish our minds and bodies set us up for success for years to come and offer many health benefits, including:
- Decreased stress
- Lower blood pressure
- Improved sleep
- Uplifted mood
- Increased energy
- Prevention against illness
What are some good healthy routines to implement?
The great thing about routines is that they don’t have to be out of your comfort zone to accomplish. You don’t have to make any major purchases or even leave your house! By folding healthy routines into your day rather than trying something totally new, adopting them as habits becomes much more seamless.
Here are four basic, yet beneficial routines you can try:
Get regular sleep
This sounds easier said than done, right? The CDC says adults need seven or more hours of sleep every night and yet, the data says it all: one study finds Americans clocking in less than five-and-a-half hours.
While you should speak with your doctor regarding chronic sleep problems, there are some easy adjustments you can make to help promote a better night’s rest at home. These include:
- Avoid scrolling through your phone at night: the blue light emitted from screens can have a significant effect on our sleep patterns. To help, make sure your phone’s blue light setting is set to turn on at night: it’s like putting sunglasses on your phone!
- Sticking to a consistent sleep and wake-up schedule, even on the weekends, can help set a healthy habit to put you on the path to better sleep. Our bodies run on a 24-hour clock called a circadian rhythm and keeping a regular sleep schedule can teach our bodies how to be alert or sleepy at the right times.
- Take a good look at your sleep setup. Does the morning sun come in through the blinds and wake you? Is your pillow lumpy with age? Do you prefer to sleep with ambient noise? Your bedroom should be where you are most comfortable, so make adjustments as needed to help you sleep better!
Start a self-care routine
Self-care is more than just an internet buzzword: the act of taking the time to care for your mental and physical well-being has many health benefits. So, why not work a small self-care routine into your day? It can be anything that helps you relax, but the only requirement is that you do a special thing for yourself. Some ideas include:
- Soaking in an Epsom salt bath to unwind from the day is the ultimate one-way ticket to Relax Town. Run at least two cups of Epsom salt under warm bathwater and treat yourself to a good 20-minute bath. (Tip: use a eucalyptus and spearmint scent to help calm your mind.)
- Pour yourself a cup of your favorite tea and curl up with a book or a new TV show to stream. Letting yourself get swept away in a story is a great way to destress and relax.
- Self-care isn’t just about relaxing in place: any hobby you enjoy is an act of self-care, whether you paint, play video games, cook, garden or swim.
Try some exercise
To be clear, we’re not talking about walking five miles a day, lifting weights like a bodybuilder or dedicating hours a day to working out. In fact, the Department of Health and Human Services recommends 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity per week. If you break that down, that’s about 21 minutes of moderate or just under 11 minutes of vigorous activity each day. And in that short amount of time, you can set yourself up for all kinds of health benefits.
What kind of exercise can you do in approximately 11-21 minutes? Quite a lot! Here is just a sampling of ideas:
- Walking on a lunch break
- Riding a bike
- Yardwork or cleaning the house
- Home exercise videos
- Lawn games (badminton, catch, volleyball)
- Playing with kids or pets in the backyard
Take care of your oral health
You’re likely a dental professional reading this, so you knew this one was coming! You probably don’t need the reminder to do these things, but good oral health habits are a great way to get into the practice of keeping a routine.
- Brush your teeth twice a day. Yes, we know this is the most basic of dental advice, but it is a rather easy one to gloss over, especially at nighttime. To make sure it stays a habit, align brushing with mealtime so it becomes a regular part of your day. Pro tip: It is actually better to wait about 30 minutes after your meal to brush, especially if you have had anything particularly sweet or acidic.
- Make sure you floss at least once a day. Many people opt to floss at night, but if you find yourself forgetting or skipping this step so you can go to bed faster, you might want to floss at a different time. After lunch or dinner is a good option: just make sure you work this important step into your day.
The bottom line: Folding in healthy routines into our days provides many benefits to our overall well-being. Getting enough sleep is crucial: make sure you are promoting restful shuteye with some easy adjustments. Self-care isn’t just a buzzword: carving out time for yourself is an important piece of our wellness puzzle. You don’t need much exercise to reap healthful benefits: start with a light walk and go from there. Sticking with a healthy oral health regimen is a great way to practice keeping regular routines.