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by Maddie Lukens, MA

Our world has changed drastically over the past 6 months and I don’t think any of us expected to experience many of the things we have in 2020.

Like many of you, I have also been challenged to develop a new routine. Week after week, things continue to evolve in our world. Month after month, there are different decisions that need to be made for our families, jobs, and dreams.

The constant adjustment to the seemingly ever-changing expectations can be quite the challenge – all while navigating family life, relationships, friendships, and the work-life balance. Phew! It is a lot to manage.

Given the unpredictability surrounding our daily lives, it is important to establish a routine and daily rhythm.

Routines are helpful because they ensure we don’t forget something on our way out the door (does anyone else use the chant: “keys, phone, wallet, mask?”). Routines help keep us grounded because when we are in a routine we know what to expect. Additionally, we all like some measure of control and predictability in our lives – schedules and routines do just that; they keep us moving and help us to make efficient use of our time.

More benefits of establishing routines…

Because we don’t always know what tomorrow or next month will bring, here are a few reasons to consider establishing a routine or even some new daily rhythms! The biggest benefit of following a daily rhythm is being able to rely on what you are familiar with, even when the circumstances around you change (like living through a global pandemic).

1. Routines help with time management. We all live busy and active lives and some days it seems like we won’t be able to fit it all in. If you wake up and jump right into your daily rhythm, you’ll be more likely to stay motivated working the rest of the day. Perhaps you’ve heard the argument made by people who are ritual bed-makers. Often, people who make their bed in the morning believe that they feel happier and are more productive throughout the day because they started their day accomplishing something small.

2. Routines allow you to build rest into each day. We are all human and therefore we have our individual limits. Some people can manage a demanding 60 hour work week, others cannot. It is important to give yourself grace in the process of figuring out what you need as a person. Identify something that is restful for you and devote 10-15 minutes (or more) per day to it. For some people, this might be meditation, yoga, reading, talking to a loved one. Whatever it is, I can guarantee you, when you allow yourself to rest, your body and mind will thank you for it.

3. Contribute to the overall wellness of your body’s natural rhythms. Our bodies follow a natural 24-hour cycle called the circadian rhythm. It’s an internal process that biologically gets you ready for sleep at night and prepared to wake up in the morning. When we are in a comfortable routine our bodies can better utilize this natural function, which supports all the other systems in our body (think: your hormones, stress response, development, immune system, etc.). When we get adequate and regular sleep, our bodies and minds function at their best.

4. Routines help us know what to expect. Knowing what to expect can help you feel grounded, especially when your world is ever-changing. Establishing daily rhythms and your routine can help you manage anxiety and stress as you continue to live life in the midst of a global pandemic.

5. Build resilience and encourage flexibility. In the midst of our changing circumstances, you can rely on your routines and rhythms to get you back into a place where you can engage with the world again. As we adapt and “bounce back” from the things life throws at us, we become more flexible and adaptive over time.

Perhaps you have a well-established daily rhythm or are looking to develop a new routine. Wherever you are in this process, I hope you feel encouraged about ways to find some normalcy during this time.

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