How to develop and maintain healthy routines
Routines may be simple but that doesn’t mean they are easy to start or keep to. Here are some things that can help:
1. Identify your existing routines
Write down a list of the simple tasks or activities you already do each day without much thought. This can reinforce the value of routines and remind you it’s possible – because you’re already doing it.
2. Start small
Instead of trying to start several routines at once, think of a simple thing you want to do the same way each day. Once you’re doing that without effort, build on it by adding another.
3. Have a plan
Mapping plans is a good way of reminding yourself what you need to do. It doesn’t have to be long term – even just planning out your day is a good start.
4. Make it achievable
If you have big goals, break them into smaller tasks and consider what you need to do each day to achieve those. When you can tick things off one-by-one, the larger goal is likely to feel more achievable.
5. Find a daily rhythm
Doing something at the same time each day can help you find your daily rhythm. For instance, getting up or eating breakfast at a consistent time can help you start your day on track. And having a set time for something later in the day can work as an
anchor to help keep your plans on track.
6. Set limits
Identify the things you know can distract you. Then set a realistic limit on how much time and energy you’ll put into those things each day. In this way, limits become part of your routine.
7. Don’t aim for perfection
It’s natural to skip or forget your routines from time to time. Don’t dwell on it or abandon your routine completely. Remind yourself why you chose to do it and get back to it the next day.
8. Track your progress
Tracking how you’re going with your routine – especially a new one – is a good way to stay accountable. You could try doing this with a calendar, by setting yourself reminders or with a to-do list.
9. Reward yourself
Once you’re following a routine consistently, don’t be afraid to reward yourself in some way. It’s good to acknowledge that you achieved what said you would.
10. Recognise unhealthy routines
Not all routines are good for your mental health and wellbeing.
If a routine you’re following makes you feel unhappy, unhealthy or stressed, it's worth trying to stop. Even reducing how often you do it will help. Try slowly replacing it with something that would be better for you.
Depending on what the routine is and how long you’ve been doing it, this can be hard. Support from a mental health professional can help. And often the best place to start is talking to your GP.
Learn what different mental health professionals do and how to find mental health services near you.