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Building a daily routine

Use these routine-building tips to restore a sense of purpose and control in your ‘new normal’.

Why follow a routine?

A daily routine supports your mental wellbeing by giving you more control of your life, helping you cope with change and feel less stressed. Setting a routine is also a great way to start new, healthy habits and make sure you take time for self-care, every day.

Following a routine is especially important during the COVID-19 pandemic. A regular schedule and familiar rituals can help you adjust to the ‘new normal’ — whether that’s working from home, searching for a new job or juggling a new set of family and life responsibilities.

My routine: 7am - Wake up, 8am - Go for a walk, 9am - Shower

How routines work

Like all humans, your brain likes patterns. It’s hard wired to recognise and respond to them.

By setting and following a daily routine, you’re giving your mind the structure it needs to keep you happy, healthy and moving forwards towards your goals.

Following a routine will also give you feelings of familiarity and reassurance, which helps you respond better to change.

Getting started

While the benefits of a routine are clear, you might be unsure about where to start – especially if you’ve struggled to build a routine in the past.

The steps below will help. Follow each item in order, and block out times for each activity in your day using a pen and paper. You could also record them in your digital calendar.

Follow the steps to build your routine

Set regular bedtimes and wake times

Keeping a normal sleep routine is just as important as a healthy diet and exercise for overall health. Try going to bed and waking up at the same time each day and aim for 7-9 hours of sleep each night.

Find a few minutes for a shower

Having a shower and getting dressed can improve your state of mind. It’ll help you mentally prepare for the day ahead, even if you’re spending the day at home.

Set your mealtimes

Setting times for breakfast, lunch and dinner each day will fuel your body and mind — and help you avoid snacking. Not sure what to cook? Find a range of easy, healthy meals on the Healthier. Happier. website.

Working? Schedule your work hours and breaks

Set boundaries to keep work time separate from home time. Be sure to schedule breaks to take time for your mental wellbeing.

Plan your day’s activities

Plan out essential tasks like cooking, cleaning and appointments. Then, schedule a few ‘me time’ activities like reading, calling a friend, or a hobby.

Make time to move

Schedule some form of physical activity every day. Whether it’s a walk around the block, a set of stretches or gardening; there are options to suit every fitness level.

Schedule your socials

Daily social contact is crucial for your mental wellbeing; it can help us cope with stress, build our confidence and bring a sense of joy to everyday life. So, set aside time to keep in touch with friends, family or co-workers.

Plan a few alcohol free nights

Limiting alcohol can help you feel better mentally and physically.

Making it stick

Once you’ve written it down, stick it up. Put your routine somewhere you can see it.

Then, share your routine with the members of your household. You might be the inspiration they need to take control of their own daily routines, too.

Holding on to good habits

One silver lining of this pandemic is that it’s given many of us time to work on new healthy habits.

Whether you’re spending more time outside, talking more to your partner or getting more time with your kids, continuing with these ‘me time’ activities will help you be more resilient against future challenges.

So, keep the ‘me-time’ – and build a daily routine that supports a happier, healthier you.