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Don’t try to change yourself to fit a routine, make sure your routine works for you.

We all have some form of routine in our lives - whether we are aware of it or not. You may attend weekly classes, eat breakfast every morning, or go to bed at the same time every night. When we consciously construct our routines, we can use them as tools to help improve our health and well-being. Just having a routine can be very beneficial to your mental health as it provides purpose, structure, and a sense of control, especially during this unprecedented time. Creating a routine can also support your physical health. Setting aside time in your routine for regular exercise or meal preparation can help to solidify these healthy habits.

How to Get Started?

Making a routine is a significant change that you should take on slowly. When I first started creating a routine for myself, I would often fail at completing my daily goals and then give up on the whole system. It is important to remember that new habits take time to adopt. Also, don’t try to change yourself to fit a routine, make sure your routine works for you. Here is our recipe for success:

1) Gather Your Ingredients

Take some time to reflect on what your priorities are, any deadlines you have coming up, and when you are the most productive. To build a truly bullet-proof routine, you need to take some time for self-reflection to make sure your routine meets your needs and includes the things you want. This process of prioritization and reflection can be very helpful for building new healthy habits. For example, practicing yoga in the morning helps me to practice mindfulness and manage my stress. This activity is really important to me so I build 30 minutes into my morning routine for yoga. I have found that it helps put me in a more positive mindset that makes the rest of my day better.

Practicing Yoga
2) Toss in the Must-Haves

Don’t forget to schedule sufficient time for things that you have to do, like sleeping and eating. It can be really tempting to sacrifice sleep overstudying, but sleep is also extremely valuable. Missed hours of sleep can build up over time and lead to unhealthy sleeping habits and burnout. Additionally, planning time for eating can ensure that you take time to cook nutritious meals and to practice mindfulness while you eat. Often during finals season, I find myself eating ramen as I simultaneously review notes. Although ramen is cheap and quick, it is not very nutritious and can lead to chronic health conditions if eaten in excess long-term. Mindful eating can also be beneficial in ameliorating feelings of anxiety and depression by allowing you to relax and de-stress. 

Lady cooking
3) Add a Generous Helping of Flex Time

Flex time, or extra time, helps ensure that you are not stressed when deadlines approach by allowing you to prepare for the unexpected. Additionally, it is important for us to incorporate flex time because our body has limits that fluctuate on a daily and weekly basis. These extra hours can allow us to take unplanned breaks without feeling guilty. I like to leave a 3 to 4 hour window within my day where I don’t plan anything specific that must be accomplished. These few hours allow me to relax, incorporate any last-minute meetings with group members, and practice doing my hobbies.

People Facetiming
4) Sprinkle Some Fun

It can get really repetitive and discouraging if your routine is just work. Remember to schedule breaks, things to look forward to, and self-care in your routine. Your health should always be your number one priority and if you are burnt out, it can make things harder to get done. Some of the activities that I have recently incorporated into my routine include cooking meals for myself and going for a walk with my family. These activities have helped me to enhance my diet, de-stress, and build stronger relationships with my family.

Man on Scooter

Beyond the Blog

SFU Health and Counselling Services
Health Peer Educators
Health Peer Educators work with the Health Promotion team at SFU Health & Counselling Services to support student health and well-being on campus.

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