Today is week 4 of my Mental Health Monday posts.
The survey I did in February (all female participants) showed that 66.7% of those surveyed wanted more information on developing and maintaining realistic routines and boundaries.
Daily routines are how families and individuals organize their days, spend time alone or together, and make time for work related and leisure activities. Routines help us feel safe and secure because they build a structure and expectation about our days. While helping us make sense of our days, routines also keep anxieties at bay and help create good habits that rid ourselves of habits that are not good for our mental or physical health and well being.
By establishing and maintaining daily or weekly routines, we can also set clear, comfortable boundaries with our families, friends and coworkers. When we find routines that work for us, and not against us, it is much easier for our “yes”es to be YES!!!!es because we are prioritizing our schedules by creating boundaries that protect our routines; we say yes to people and things that mean the most to us and fill us up. And in the same way, our passive “no”s become confident firm “NO”s without exceptions, shame or guilt.
Along with routines, it’s important to have healthy daily and weekly habits. If we have healthy habits, it is much easier for us to stick to our routines and be mindful of our boundaries. I find weekly habits make my decision making throughout the week much easier- no rushing in the mornings or evenings, and this makes my daily habits flow more smoothly as well.
A few of my weekly habits:
-Pick out my outfits for the week on Sunday evening
-Pack lunches for the week on Sunday evening, take them all on Monday morning and keep them fresh in lunchroom refrigerator
-Plan the meals and grocery list for the upcoming week on the Thursday before; AND post meals in the kitchen area so you don’t hear the question “What’s for dinner?” 10,000 times!!!!
-Keep some things constant- decide once- so much easier (e.g.- Taco Tuesday, Pizza Friday, Out to Eat or Take In on Sundays)
-Do laundry and basic cleaning on the same day every week- I do both on Thursday evenings- laundry is more manageable now that kids all do their own
My daily habits:
✔Wake up and go to bed around the same time every day- don’t sleep too late and don’t stay up too late
✔Make the bed
✔Drink water before anything else
✔Spend time outside
✔Move my body/exercise
✔Read and/or write something every day
✔Spend time in prayer/meditation
✔Put my phone away for chunks of time- but especially an hour before I go to bed
✔Eat some vegetables and fruits
✔Tidy up the kitchen before I go to bed - trust me, you will be so much happier in the morning
Once we start incorporating and implementing daily and weekly habits, we will find that we naturally “chunk” our days. That is, we have certain things that we do at certain times of the day depending on our sleep schedules, work schedules, and family events. For example, I read my Bible and do my exercising first thing in the morning every day. In the evening, I take a walk, do some yoga and read a book of choice. It is important to build realistic routines, so that we can stick to them and reap the benefits they offer. If we create routines that are too outlandish, we will never be able to stick them, and this often makes us feel like failures and we throw it all out the window. Be smart, start small, do what you want to do and what makes you feel good about yourself. I started a morning routine about 3 years ago, and I have never looked back. It has made all the difference to my days.
My simple morning routine that I know you will find helpful and easy to implement and maintain (in some form or fashion)
Get out of bed as soon as the alarm goes off
Put exercise clothes and shoes on before leaving the bedroom
Drink a full glass of water before drinking anything else
Light a candle, burn incense, diffuse favorite essential oil OR when the weather’s nice sit outside
(note: I use my phone to play my favorite relaxing music, BUT NO email, texting, or social media until morning routine is complete)
Do morning prayer, meditation, journaling, reading, writing BEFORE checking phone
Do a “brain dump”- write down all that you are facing today, every “to do”, thought, etc. that is running through your mind…. This is a great release!
Move your body- whatever form of exercise you choose- I promise you won’t regret doing it early in the morning. It helps stimulate your body and your mind, and you feel accomplished having it behind you.
How do daily/weekly habits and routines help with setting appropriate and healthy boundaries?
They spill over into all aspects of our lives. By having habits and routines, and sticking to them, we communicate to ourselves and others what we prioritize and that we have certain days or times of days where those activities are what we are engaging in. Non negotiable.
Family, friends and coworkers will begin to notice that you don’t respond to texts, emails, etc at certain times of the day- that is setting an appropriate boundary that you will leave work at work, or you will reply after dinner time, or not before 8am, etc.
They communicate that you value you, you prioritize you and that you want to be your best self when you engage with others, so you need to take care of your needs mental, physical and spiritual needs first
They foster communication about any help you may need and they support you by helping you practice saying “no”. When you say “no” to things that may interfere with your daily/weekly routines and habits, you will begin to see that saying “no” isn’t so bad. We don’t have to live in a world full of regretted “yes”es
They help us communicate in simple, reasonable terms
The bottom line is we are made up of the culmination of our daily choices, habits, and routines. If we have realistic, fulfilling, healthy ones in place then we will feel much better in the long run. However, if we roll out of bed at random times every morning, haphazardly muddle through our days, making minute by minute decisions, rushing around because we didn’t prepare ahead of time, saying yes more than we want to or should then we become tired, irritable, frustrated, disappointed and often experience burn out.
So do yourself a favor…. Establish and maintain healthy, productive, life giving habits, routines and boundaries.