We just returned from our European honeymoon where we stayed in 7 different cities throughout Greece, Croatia + France. We got to see + experience SO MUCH! From swimming in the hot springs in Santorini, to jumping off cliffs into the Adriatic Sea in Dubrovnik, to eating croissants as we strolled past the Eiffel Tower in Paris — it was truly the trip of a lifetime. As I’ve recovered from jet lag + eased back into reality this week, I’ve slowly gotten back into my routine. While vacation is always a nice mental break from the demands of daily life, it has felt great to get back to the gym, get my sleep back on track, and cook my own meals.
Routines often get a bad reputation as being boring or strict, but there are so many health benefits associated with keeping daily routines. As humans, our bodies crave structure. Many of my Counseling Virginia Beach clients struggling with depression or anxiety have seen great improvements in their overall mental health once they’ve acquired tools to apply some structure to their lives. Routines don’t have to be boring; in fact, they may even free up some room for more spontaneity! Here are some benefits associated with having daily routines:
THEY SAVE MENTAL ENERGY
From the moment we wake up each morning, we are forced with so many decisions: “What should I eat for breakfast? What should I wear to work? What should I pack for lunch?”… and they just keep coming until we go to bed. It’s no wonder that many of us are mentally fatigued. Routines help us take the guesswork out of our daily life, giving us more energy + mental space for more important things like completing important projects at work or planning fun weekend activities.
THEY REDUCE ANXIETY
Stress + anxiety are often the product of feeling like we are lacking control in certain areas of our lives. Applying a routine and knowing what to expect each day can help us feel like we’re in charge of our lives, especially if we’re feeling a lack of control elsewhere.
THEY HELP US STAY BALANCED
They ensure that we are leaving us enough time to care for our physical and mental health, such as scheduling time to go to the gym or grocery shopping so we can eat nutritious meals throughout the week. By doing a little planning ahead, we can ensure our physical or mental health won’t be neglected when we get busy during the week.
THEY IMPROVE OUR SLEEP
Going to bed and waking up around the same time each day greatly improves our sleeping habits. Our bodies become accustom to this, allowing us to enter deeper sleep during the night and helping us wake up feeling energized and refreshed.
THEY ALLOW FOR MORE “ME TIME”
By following a routine, you’ll be more productive throughout the day, meaning you’ll have more time for things you love. You can even schedule “me time” into your daily routine! (In fact, I highly suggest it.) Knowing you can count on that time each day will do wonders for your mental outlook + clarity each day.
YOU GET TO CREATE YOUR OWN
A routine that works for one person probably won’t work for another. We all have vastly different values, priorities and demands in our lives, and our routines should be a reflection of these. Your routine shouldn’t make you feel like you are restricting or punishing yourself. It it does, it might need some readjusting.
CHILDREN MAY BENEFIT THE MOST
I previously worked as an in-home therapist with children who displayed severe and persistent behavior difficulties. Often times when I drilled down to the root of the problem with each family, it was discovered that there wasn’t a daily schedule in the home. Bedtimes were inconsistent, there weren’t times set aside for homework each day, electronics weren’t monitored or restricted, etc. By simply applying some structure in the home, we were able to see huge improvements with the children’s behaviors both at home and in school. Routines help children understand expectations, have a sense of responsibility and feel secure.
While I’m a huge fan of structure and routines, I’m also a big advocate of breaking free every once in a while. (But we’ll save that for another post….)
For now, I’ll leave you with some pictures from our honeymoon.
Checking out the Acropolis in Athens
Sunsets in Santorini
Exploring the old city in Dubrovnik
Eating our way through Paris
Cruising to dinner in Paros, Greece