Why You Need to Establish a Solid Routine to Boost Your Wellness
What is a routine and why do humans crave it? How can routines help us function during the day? What does my current routine look like? In this post I give background for the Routine, describe my current personal morning routine, and how it has helped me grow. I explain how the routine can boost wellness overall.
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The Routine and its Purpose
Sometimes the word routine communicates negative connotation. It can conjure images of boredom, monotony, or mundane life. However, without routines, humans would be unable to function.
By our very nature, humans seek out routines, or patterns, in their lives. From the very beginning, baby humans begin the process of accommodation and assimilation where they determine which things fit and which do not. They begin to understand that cats and dogs are animals, but cats are not dogs, that a dachshund and golden retriever are both dogs, but that each is a different breed, and that dachshunds can have long fur or short fur but are still dachshunds. The process continues.
While searching for patterns, the young human categorizes and learns to respond appropriately to different stimuli (e.g. animals, cats, and dogs) in his or her world. The baby human can calmly approach a pet rabbit, knowing that it is an animal, just as his or her pet dog and cat. The ability to process patterns and recognize routines helps humans to function in a world that would otherwise be too overwhelming with new things.
A Daily Routine to Boost Wellness
In the same way, a daily routine helps people to categorize the process of engaging in life. Without a daily routine, you and I would become overwhelmed from the disarray of incoming stimuli. Think about how hectic it might be to hold a schedule without predictability:
- You wake up and go to bed at drastically different times every day.
- Your diet fluctuates frequently – you eat once, then maybe four meals the next day.
- You travel to a foreign country then visit a stranger, then start a new job but don’t learn how to do it.
Every subsequent day you engage in activities that you haven’t done before in an order and manner in which you have not experienced prior. You and I would be exhausted from the never-ending change.
A daily routine can help boost your wellness because it prevents unnecessary changes and uncertainties. You’re brain knows what to expect.
While there is variance between persons due to personality and current stressors, everyone can handle a certain balance of dysregulation and routine in their daily lives.
While the president of the United States might travel to different countries frequently and be able to tolerate the stress of this change, many more introverted people would become easily tired from this work; however, they might be able to tolerate a sporadic eating or sleeping schedule that someone already experiencing intense stressors could not. Everyone needs some level or combination of routine to be able to engage in life at their optimal level of functioning.
Create Your Own Routine to Boost Wellness
To those of you struggling to gain footholds in your own lives, I challenge you to intentionally add a daily routine. I believe that the easiest of routines to implement is the morning routine because, hey, everyone has to wake up at some point after sleeping. You could choose a different time of day to implement a helpful routine, if you like. Other suggested times might be during your lunch break, or before you go to bed.
Everyone’s routine is going to look different, too. Just as my stress tolerance for dis-routine will be different from the next person, my personal needs will be different as well. Before creating a morning routine, it is important to complete a needs assessment of your current state.
- What areas do you want to grow in?
- What are your daily priorities?
- Where do you currently feel overwhelmed or dissatisfied with your current state?
- What do you want to accomplish long-term?
Additionally, the routine you create should be assessed periodically. Your routine today will grow with you and your own needs and must be altered slightly or drastically as you grow. While you might decide waking up before the other members of your household is important to you, one week into this routine you might find that you need to adjust your wake-up time. You might realize later that the breakfast you eat doesn’t sit well with your digestive system, so you have to change the order and timing of the rest of your routine to allow you time and energy to eat breakfast at home.
You will change, your routine will change, AND THAT’S OKAY!
We are all on a journey and will never arrive in this life.
My Morning Routine
After some trial and error, one month into my newly implemented morning routine, I believe that I’ve come to a schedule that I like. My current overarching goal is personal wellness in the overarching areas of my physical, emotional, spiritual, financial, environmental, occupational, social, and intellectual health. The morning routine I participate in helps me to work toward wellness in these eight areas. While it is not a perfect routine yet, and I would like to add other aspects, I am satisfied that I am making steps to engage in each of these areas daily.
6:00AM – Wake up, drink a glass of water, and start my yoga routine
I wake up at 6:00AM because it allows me enough time to complete the tasks in my morning routine and make it to work on time. If my work arrival time changed, I would most likely alter my wake-up time to suit this arrival time. For the health of my body and to ease my morning rise during the week, I attempt to wake up at 6:00AM every day – not just on the days that I work.
Waking up and going to bed at the same time every day helps your body sleep better and feel more rested the following day, and waking up at different times on the weekends or holidays keeps your body from predicting your routine and results in you feeling more sluggish during the following day. To meet my physical wellness goal, I want to maximize my sleep health.
As soon as I wake up, I drink a glass of water. Although this aspect of my routine is small, it’s one of the most important, yet also the one that I tend to neglect the most. Drinking water when you first wake up helps rehydrate your body after six to eight hours of sleep, which is dire for the proper functioning of all of your cells.
After not drinking anything for an extended period of time, your body can become dehydrated and will not function at its best level. However, I often forget to set out a full cup of water before I go to bed or make excuses that our fridge is too loud, and I would wake up my husband. I need to be more intentional to meet my goal of physical health and drink a glass of water when I wake up.
After drinking water, I go into the spare bedroom and begin my yoga routine. Yoga helps me to address various aspects of wellness including physical, emotional, and spiritual health. I choose to do at home yoga because of the simplicity and financial savings as compared to going to a gym or a class. Sometimes I complete my own routine, but other times I watch YouTube yoga instructors to help me get new ideas (shout out to @yogawithadrienne for her multitude of classes).
I engage in my yoga practice as strength training to improve my physical health, but also use the time to strengthen my spiritual relationship with God, and bring awareness to my breath and thoughts as they sync with my movement to develop emotional health through mindfulness. Oh, and by the way, I do yoga in my pajamas – no complicated changes into a sports bra or leggings. I’m taking the “come as you are” mantra literally and it works.
6:30AM – Read today’s Bible chapters and practice gratitude
Currently, I’m reading a Bible plan with a few of my friends and my husband through the ever-popular YouVersion Bible App.
Not only does this keep me accountable to reading every day, but it also keeps me connected to these people through our common spiritual practice. Aside from the normal benefits of reading for intellectual health, specifically reading the Bible helps me grow in my spirituality and relationship with God. Once I finish reading the chapters allotted for today, I use the app Presently to keep record of a gratitude log.
There are many scientific studies about the effect of gratitude on the various components of wellbeing, including happiness and I’ve recently started this practice because 1. I’m commanded to rejoice and be glad in what God has given me, and 2. The health benefits associated with it. I particularly like the Presently app for my gratitude log because it allows me to set a notification reminder, gives suggested questions to consider, and sends out congratulatory messages when I’ve been consistent in the app for a certain amount of days. Additionally, reading the Bible and practicing gratitude allow me the opportunity to stay present in my relationships and awareness.
6:50AM – Shower, get dressed, and pack for work
When 6:50 rolls around, I’m not too ready for it. Most of the time, I finish my morning routine prior to 6:50, so sometimes I lay back in bed. THIS IS DANGEROUS. The days that I’m running late on my way to work I almost always went back to sleep and I regret it every time. I’m currently working on some way to create a readiness to go to work within myself.
When I do get out of bed, once I’m in the shower, I have a smooth routine and can finish in about twenty minutes. I grab my water, lunchbox, and I’m out the door. I hate driving and depending on which location I’m working for the day, sometimes my drive is up to thirty minutes on backroads. To make the ride more bearable, I often call my mom to talk.
6:45AM – Arrive at work, set an intention for today, and make a mug of tea
I arrive at work fifteen minutes before I’m supposed to be in position to allow myself time to focus in on today’s work. During this time, I unpack my computer, set up my planner for today’s tasks, and make myself a mug of tea. While I have coffee sometimes, I find that tea addresses the same affinity for a warm drink to ease me into my morning. It gives me something to look forward to, keeps my hands warm when I greet children outside our front door, and gives me a subtle boost of caffeine. My current personal tea favorites are Stash Earl Grey, any form of chai, and Darjeeling.
The last thing I do before our kids arrive is set an intention for my day. An intention is somewhat like an intangible goal for the day. I might want to stay focused, or remain productive, or give kindness. Often, my intention is whatever I believe myself to be lacking that particular day and would like to cultivate through my actions.
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The Process of Routine
Overall, I believe that setting a routine has been helpful for me. Prior to making a morning routine, I felt lost, as if I was just floating through life. Wake up, work, come home, sleep, repeat. My routine helps me set intention for each day.
While my daily routine is not perfect, setting a routine has helped me to feel proud of my productivity in meeting my personal goals. My routine will be changed in the future to meet my needs and potentially new goals.
How have you changed your routine to boost your wellness?
Share with me in the comments below what you do for your morning routine, and one thing you would like to change about it.
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Last Updated: September 2020
Hi, I’m Caroline. I ‘m pursuing higher education in Clinical Mental Health Counseling, and have a desire to help you pursue your potential for emotional, social, and physical wellness through intentional experience.. When I’m not in the office, I enjoy researching new health concepts, techniques, and resources. Join me as we learn how to grow together.