Our daily activities, such as working, cleaning, cooking, and exercising, can sometimes leave us feeling worn out. People suffering from mental health conditions such as major depression, substance abuse disorders, bipolar disorder, anxiety, or post-traumatic stress disorder may, in particular, find it especially difficult to complete all tasks on their to-do list without feeling overwhelmed. If you have trouble checking off all the items on your “to-do list” or worry about completing tasks on time, a daily routine may be the answer.
Having a routine is important at every stage of life since it allows us to adapt to change, create healthy habits, improve interpersonal relationships, and reduce stress. Studies have found there are multiple mental health benefits associated with keeping a consistent daily routine, and it is even possible to alleviate some of the symptoms of certain mental health disorders.
Diet and Health
For many people, modern life is hectic, and eating healthy is often sacrificed for the sake of convenience. Unfortunately, the fast and easy food options that are often staples of the average American diet are typically filled with unhealthy ingredients and lack nutrition overall. Research shows that frequent consumption of “fast-food” products can lead a person to develop a number of health issues, including obesity, diabetes, heart disease, malnutrition, high blood pressure, cancer, and many other problems. These health issues can then cause the development of or exacerbate the symptoms of depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and other mental health conditions.
Making time to plan and prepare meals made with quality ingredients is one of the best ways to maintain a healthy diet and therefore promote a healthy body and mind. Making a daily routine will help you organize your time better and dedicate a specific portion of your schedule to eating better. Getting out of the habit of eating grab-and-go food every day and into the habit of preparing balanced meals will make maintaining good mental and physical health much more manageable.
The Benefits of Quality Sleep
When a person does not maintain consistency in their bedtime and wake-up time, their circadian rhythm will become irregular as a result. When the circadian rhythm becomes irregular, it will cause a person to have trouble going to sleep, staying asleep, and can even reduce their quality of sleep. This overall loss of sleep can result in sleep deprivation. Even minor sleep deprivation will have severe effects on a person’s mental health.
Maintaining a consistent sleeping schedule will allow your circadian rhythm to normalize and allow you to get better quality sleep, which is crucial to maintaining good mental health. When you follow a daily routine, the brain starts to form positive connections and can recognize when it is time to go to sleep and wake up, which allows the body to sleep more deeply and consistently. Having a regular daily routine is the perfect way to balance the circadian rhythm and get the quality sleep you need to maintain good mental health.
Using Routines to Reduce Anxiety
The key to coping with anxiety is sitting down, assessing what’s bothering you, and taking measures to address your fears. By creating daily routines, such as planning exercise sessions, sticking to a schedule, or normalizing our sleeping patterns, our bodies become accustomed to these changes, thus allowing them to adapt and know what to expect. When our bodies know what to expect, it can help reduce the number of stressors that exacerbate anxiety.
The same principle can also be applied to mental routines, such as meditation, breathing exercises, or simply focusing on a word or phrase as a mantra. Creating predictability in your life through daily habits can help your brain cope with uncertainties while also reducing anxiety.
Routines can serve as an anchor in a hectic and stress-filled world. It can be reassuring to know, regardless of our day’s events, that we will end the evening with dinner at about 6 PM and retire to bed around 10 PM. Routines provide us with a level of certainty that allows us to better handle the greater uncertainties of life. Having a little structure in place to keep us on track can make dealing with periods of time that are unpredictable feel more manageable. Routines are a great way to manage your time and normalize your body’s cycles so you can be the healthiest version of yourself physically and mentally.