Does the word “routine” conjure up thoughts of boring, monotonous things? I never thought I’d embrace routine, but after some consideration, I realized my disdain for it was making my life stressful and unhealthy. Each morning I’d scramble to get ready and leave the house in a rush. During the day, I’d sit hunched over a keyboard staring at a computer screen without scheduling breaks. And in the evening, I’d scramble again to figure out what to make for dinner. My life was being ruled by lack of routine, the very thing I was trying to avoid. So I set out to create a few daily routines that would streamline my life without taking it over.
IN THE MORNING
Wake up 15 minutes earlier. This leaves room for a morning routine to include some deep breathing and stretching, and to practice mindfulness. You’ll be up to calmly move through your morning routine without the stress of rushing. Try to take one of those minutes to smile inside and send a wave of gratitude through your body. It may sound silly, but it works. Try it. You’ll see!
And speaking of waking up less stressed, why not go ahead and fill the coffee maker and schedule it to start a few minutes before you rise in the morning? One less thing to worry about as you get ready for the day.
In the last few years, we’ve become more aware of the acutely negative effects that excessive sitting can have on your health. Schedule times throughout the day to get out of your chair, stretch, take a walk, and give yourself a break. If you’re a frequent emailer, clear out a batch every time you go into your inbox. Archive or delete what you don’t need, then do some quick replies. Facing the day with hundreds of old emails is enough to stress anyone out.
Try turning your phone off. Yes, off. Not on vibrate, not on mute. Sever the tether and savor the freedom of not being at everyone’s beck and call for a while. While you’re enjoying the quiet time, go ahead and set out your clothes for the next day. Less effort spending time trying to figure out what to wear helps you start your day on a more leisurely note.
Plan out your evening meal a couple of days in advance or try out meal kits delivered to your door. This way, you can avoid flashing your family a deer in the headlights look when they ask, “What’s for dinner?” It can also help you eat more healthfully by avoiding fast food and take out. Clean dishes and pans up right after dinner—or enlist people to help out as a token of appreciation for your hard work cooking. Waking up to a sink full of crusty pots and greasy skillets is an instant stressor. And here’s a tip—it helps if you empty the dishwasher before you start cooking so you’re not tempted to let everything sit.
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