How Routines Benefit Your Mental HealthHannah Hippe
The Nystrom & Associates provider consulted for this article is Brett. B. Cushing, MA, LMFT, Licensed Outpatient Therapist/DBT Therapist.
Routines not only have the power to help you stick to your goals, but they can also reduce symptoms of mental health disorders like depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Building the right routine can benefit your mental health by creating a structured and stable environment that promotes less stress and anxiety.
The Facts About Routines
How do routines benefit your mental health? In a nutshell, routines offer:
- Predictability and structure
- Reduced stress levels
- Better quality sleep
- Opportunities to implement self-care habits
Creating routines allows you to know what to expect, places boundaries around your time, and ideally, includes activities that promote your wellbeing.
“Research indicates routines reduce stress levels by enabling fewer decisions to be made, facilitating fewer things to be remembered, and enhancing a greater sense of certainty and predictability in our lives,” says Brett. B. Cushing, Licensed Outpatient Therapist/DBT Therapist at Nystrom & Associates. “Routines also protect us as established boundaries to ward off internal urges and outside influences which may distract and derail us.”
Therefore, with limited distractions and decisions, you are better able to find peace throughout your day and manage mental health symptoms. “Specifically, I find that routines help manage ADHD, moderate impulsiveness and oppositional behaviors in children, and alleviate depression, anxiety, and trauma symptoms in patients,” says Cushing.
Especially this year, routines are needed to help children and adults maintain a sense of stability and control. Although outside forces are unpredictable, you can develop routines that make you feel empowered and relaxed.
Tips to Make Routines Stick
An easy way to start creating routines that benefit your mental health is by establishing your wake-up time and bedtime. From there, determine times of other activities throughout the day like mealtimes and an ideal time to exercise. Scheduling your day will add structure and make it easier for you to accomplish what must be done. In addition, it’ll leave more room for other activities you’d prefer to do.
List the things you typically do in a day. Reflect on if any of those things could be done in a way that saves you time and reduces stress. Do you frantically rush through your mornings? Make life easier for yourself by completing tasks the night before. Prep your lunch, lay out your outfit for the next day, or have your coffee pot set up to brew for you. Doing so may leave time in the morning for you to develop a routine that allows you to make space for the day. This could be journaling, reading a book, or quiet time with your coffee. Keep in mind, it’s important to incorporate self-care into your routine, not just things off your to-do list.
A Word From Nystrom & Associates
How routines benefit your mental health will differ for everyone. If you need accountability to stick with a routine, therapy can be a valuable resource. Therapy provides an outlet to learn life skills in a nonthreatening, no-judgment zone. Don’t hesitate to ask for support. You can make an appointment with us here or read about How to Build and Maintain Coping Skills here.