Develop a morning or end-of-day ritual.
Set a sleep schedule and get enough sleep.
Make the most of your meals.
Reflect and seek support if you need it.
Schedule your self-care.
It can be difficult to re-establish routines after any time of disruption, whether it be a big move or a new job. The COVID-19 pandemic was certainly one such disruption, and if you’re like me, changes have affected all parts of your life, including what you eat, where you spend your free time, how you handle money, when/where you exercise, and more. And now as summer is rapidly coming to an end, it’s time to start thinking about getting back into a routine so you can ensure that you are healthy and happy as we look forward to the Fall season ahead.
This September will bring about changes for many of us. Maybe you will be heading back to work in person for the first time in a long time, or maybe you or your children will be heading back to school. Regardless of your situation, it is important to plan and prepare for this transition and a great way to do that is by re-establishing a routine. Humans are very habitual creatures, and a solid routine can help to ensure you are doing what you need to do to be the best version of you. Here are my top 5 tips for getting back into a routine as seamlessly as possible.
- Develop a morning and/or end of the day ritual. Start getting into the habit of doing something just for yourself in the morning before work or school. I personally do what I call my morning “commute” before my workday begins. For me, I take a refreshing 5 km walk each morning. This gives me a great mental energy boost and brightens my mood before I start my work for the day. This can help set a boundary between work time and personal time. You can also replicate this at the end of your day by having an “end of day” ritual (e.g., doing a YouTube workout after work, or having a video call with friends).
- Set up a sleep schedule and ensure you are consistently getting adequate sleep. In order to have enough time for my walk, I have to make sure I wake up early enough. I also find that getting up early helps me to feel less frazzled and rushed and more organized and in control of my time. But waking up early means going to bed at decent hour. So now is a great time to work on curbing your habit of late-night scrolling or binge-watching and aiming to get to bed earlier. Try creating a more purposeful bedtime routine that includes reading or meditating or another calming screen-free activity. Ensuring you are getting the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep each night can really make a huge difference and help to give you the energy you need to be productive during the day.
- Make the most of your meals. Now is also a great time to get in the habit of meal planning and prepping. If you make this a regular part of your routine, you will be amazed at how much easier it is to ensure you and your family are eating healthy, balanced meals. Meal planning is not only healthier, but it also saves you a lot of money! Meal planning is extremely helpful for me because I can cook in bulk and not worry about preparing meals all the time. It can also be very beneficial to try to keep healthy foods around and easily accessible. Think: healthy snacks like blueberries on yogurt as a midafternoon study snack! I also always keep frozen vegetables on hand because they’re so easy to add to pasta and stews.
- Reflect and reach out for support if you need it. Take some time to really think about how things are going in different areas of your life. If you think certain areas can use some improvement, now is a great time to reach out for help. There are always resources out there and people who are willing to assist you. If you’re a student, you can reach out to you teachers, professors, or TA’s. Remember that these people are experts, and it’s their job to support you and your learning goals. Even if you’re not a student, if you are struggling with any area of your life, it can help to speak to a trusted person or even a professional to get the assistance you need. I think it’s so important to recognize that life can sometimes be challenging, but you don’t have to face your struggles alone. Getting additional help can often make a huge difference in your ability to cope with life’s challenges.
- Schedule your self-care. And last, but certainly not least… self-care is essential and should be always be on the top of your list of priorities. Think about your day and how you will make time for things that will fill your cup such as exercise, mediation and journaling. All things that have proven benefits to your mental health and overall well-being but unfortunately are often the first thing to be sacrificed when life gets busy. If you schedule in time for your self-care, then you will be much more likely to follow through with your plan. Try adding time into your calendar just like you would for a meeting and make it non-negotiable. Remember, you can’t pour from an empty cup so taking time for yourself is not selfish, it’s necessary so you can not only survive, but thrive. At the end of the day, that’s what it’s all about.
It certainly takes time to establish a routine, and acknowledging that things don’t happen right away is key. Be patient with yourself as you work to re-establish your routine and be consistent! You got this.