Why Routine Is Important | Balance
Our routine is the blueprint of our health.
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How healthy we are and, ultimately how we perform, feel and even look like, is down to the habits and behaviours we conduct day in day out.
Having a healthy routine is arguably the most important contribution to an overall healthy, happy life.
It is the key to developing long lasting healthier habits, particularly when aspects of your life feel disjointed or uncertain. It allows us to regain a sense of control and become more organized and focused.
On the other hand, lack of routine can actually exacerbate feelings of distress, causing greater distraction and an inability to problem solve, worsened productivity and hindering your hopes of healthy habit establishment.
The benefit of a healthy routine
Research has shown that having a routine helps people better manage stress and anxiety (1).
Having a regular routine can help you:
• Lower stress levels
• Form your desired (healthier) daily habits
• Prepare and eat more nutritious meals
• Take better care of your health
• Feel more productive
• Feel more focused
“Ticking the necessary boxes” to achieve a productive day can help you find more time to focus on building a healthier lifestyle, working on new habits and enjoying hobbies.
It is well established that implementing a healthy routine can also help improve your mental health and allow you to better manage disordered health behaviours. In particular, establishing a healthy routine appears to be of great benefit to those who struggle with binge eating.
This finding is reflected both in clinical research but as well within our day to day working with clients. Establishing a healthy, resilient, sustainable and dynamic routine is one of the first, and most important, steps we take in working with people to help them overcome binge eating.
Building a resilient routine
To make your life more organized, it's important to create routines that you can depend on.
A good way of doing this would be creating one basic structure for when everything will happen in each part of the day- waking up/eating breakfast; when you’ll be working; doing activities like the shopping or when you plan to exercise which might take place during those working hours too if they aren't already included within another section due time commitment required by job responsibilities etc.; finally winding down for the evening with a bed time routine!
Structuring your day also ensures that you accomplish those basic tasks that must be done; this will leave you with the time to schedule in other things that you want or need to accomplish.
Spend some time writing down a routine plan; either on excel, word or simply written, divvy up a day into hour blocks and start with the fundamentals mentioned above. Once you have those cornerstones established then you can flesh it out with the other activities you’d like to include!
The benefits of having a routine are many, but it's important not to get too caught up in the rituals. Sometimes life gets hectic and you may find yourself struggling with sticking by your own plans or schedule; don't beat yourself up if this happens!
Everyone handles stress differently so be sure that whatever coping mechanism works best for YOU (and doesn’t negatively impact your health) will also allow room for unexpected events like illness/injury etc., which could throw off any sense of normalcy during tough times.
Developing a routine without a schedule
Drawing up a healthy routine is a challenge at the best of times and an exercise in pulling out your hair when your schedule is up in the air.
If you work constantly varying shift patterns, have flexible working hours because you’re working from home, have kids or animals to manage with challenging schedules of their own or whatever other hurdle to a consistent schedule, you know that you can’t rely on a consistent day to day.
If you want to create a work routine, sleep routine – really ANY kind of routine – these tips will help you do that, regardless of how spontaneous your schedule can be.
Use your "constants" to build around
Even with a constantly shifting schedule there are some constants in your day-to-day life you can rely on.
For most of us, these constants are:
• Waking up and going to bed
• Brushing our teeth, showering, etc.
• Getting to and from work
• Work itself
Once you identify these daily constants, you can begin to build your routine around them.
Building a routine piece by piece
One of the major problems for people trying to establish a routine is that they try to do introduce a brand-new routine all at one time. Trying to add in too much at once can destabilize your routine and the whole thing could go up in smoke!
Start by choosing ONE thing you’d like to make a daily constant and start there. After a fortnight or so of doing that consistently, add one more thing.
• Regular meal times
• Establishing a sleep routine
• Having a defined cut off point for work
This isn’t to say that you can’t try to incorporate several at these at one time which complement each other and are fairly simplistic to implement (if you have to honestly rate them out of difficulty of consistent application one a scale of 1 to 10, then having a number of 4 or 5 out of 10 rated habits would be more feasible to implement than several 7, 8 or 9 out of 10 habit changes).
Establish a task hierarchy
If you are under time constraints or have a lot of (sometimes even an overwhelming amount) responsibilities you have to learn how to prioritise your time.
One final suggestion on routine building we give to our clients is to determine what you "need" to get done vs. what you'd "like" to get done.
Make a list of "to dos" and simply rank them on importance; this is important for developing a daily / weekly / monthly routine so that you ensure you feel like you've accomplished everything you'd set out to.
Your routine is the blueprint by which your health is determined; not just your physical health and how you’re fuelling yourself, but your mental, social, relationship and financial health too.
Plan your routine and develop it over time; slow and steady wins the race and will allow you to move towards a much more productive day and happier, healthier life!
1. Arlinghaus, K. R., & Johnston, C. A. (2018). The Importance of Creating Habits and Routine. American journal of lifestyle medicine, 13(2), 142–144.
Find out how our coaching team can help you today
Balance is Northern Ireland's leading nutritionist and dietician coaching team. We work with everyone from Olympians to office workers to help them achieve their nutrition and diet related goals.
Get in touch with us today to discuss how we can help you;
- Beat binge eating
- Lose weight and keep it off
- Take your sports performance to the next level and reach your full potential