by Gwen Ferguson
Did you know that when it comes to diet, sleep and exercise, that having good, strong routines is linked to improved mental and physical health? It takes some planning and commitment, but creating healthy routines can help you feel less stressed and have more time to do the things that you enjoy.
Work, paying bills, cleaning, cooking, shopping, exercising, getting enough sleep and taking care of children are just some of the things millions of Americans do each day, making it is easy to feel overwhelmed. It can feel impossible to get everything done, let alone take care of yourself, especially if you are dealing with a health condition.
By creating routines, we organize our days in such a way that taking care of daily routines become a pattern that makes it easier to get things done without having to think hard about them. Try these tips for creating healthy routines in your life:
— Create the routine that is right for you. We don’t all have the same schedules or responsibilities and some of us struggle with certain parts of daily life more than others. All healthy routines should include eating a nutrition-rich diet, exercising and getting enough sleep. No two routines will be exactly the same. In fact, your routine may not be exactly the same every day.
— Start small. Changing up your day-to-day routine all at once probably won’t end up with lasting results. Pick one small thing each week to work on. It could be adding something new and positive or cutting out a bad habit. Small changes add up.
— Make swaps. Think about the things you do during the day that aren’t healthy and swap them with better behaviors. For example, if you feel sluggish in the afternoons and eat sugary snacks for a quick pick-me-up, try taking a brisk walk instead to get your blood pumping and endorphins flowing. Or if you find yourself having a few alcoholic drinks after a long stressful day, find a non-alcoholic drink that you enjoy instead.
— Plan ahead. When life gets hectic, you may be tempted to skip out on the new parts of your daily routine. By doing things like prepping meals ahead of time, picking out an outfit the night before work, or having an alternate home workout option for the days you can’t make it to the gym, you help set yourself up for success even when you’re hurried.
— Make time for things you enjoy. Even if it’s just 15 minutes a day, set aside time to do something you find fun or relaxing — it will release chemical messengers in your body that are good for your physical and mental health.
— Reward yourself for small victories. Set goals and celebrate when you reach them. Have you added exercise to your weekly routine and worked out every day as planned for the last couple weeks? Treat yourself! Watch a movie you’ve been wanting to see or try out that new video game.
— Don’t beat yourself up if you miss a day. Making life changes can be hard and you might forget to do something that is new to your routine every once in a while. You don’t have to be perfect, just try to do better the next day.
Remember, if you are struggling with feeling alone or isolated, Solvista Health has mental health professionals available 24/7. There are a variety of services that might be right for you, such as virtual support groups or individual counseling. Just call, 719-275-2351. Or, you can text the Colorado Crisis line by texting TALK to 38255.
Solvista Health is contributing a weekly article to the Herald Democrat throughout May in recognition of Mental Health Month.