31 Mar 2020
For Your Emotional and Physical Well-being, Stick To Routines
Read time: 4 minutes, 28 seconds
There are times in our lives when the daily structures we were used to are suddenly altered, or even disappear altogether. Different circumstances, such as having to care for a sick relative or changes in job dynamics, can lead people to lose their routines, affecting their relationships, interests, and even their consumption and spending habits. In these cases, they will need to hone their capacity for adaptability in order to move forward with life.
In general, we tend to complain about everyday routine life, bemoaning fixed schedules and daily inescapable tasks and responsibilities, such as parents or children. But when these structures collapse or change unexpectedly, it’s normal to experience a loss of stability. Regardless of how each person reacts to this disruption, it is usually a good opportunity to put in place new structures and habits that will guarantee a sense of security, health, and wellbeing for you and your loved ones.
When our lives are interrupted by an unforeseen event, it’s important to focus on the aspects that we can control. That doesn’t mean creating a whole new system, but rather turning to certain universal principles that make up the foundation of physical and emotional health and are integral to daily living.
It doesn’t matter where or how one lives, whether they’re in good health or have a chronic medical or psychological condition — everyone must cover these five basic human needs every day.
Our bodies need to move, stretch, bend, sweat, and step, not so much in order to stay in shape but to maintain our immune system and minds healthy. It doesn’t have to be at the gym, the living room is fine, too, and twenty minutes a day are all you need. There are exercise videos on YouTube for every level and interest, from mini-workouts no more than three minutes long to dance classes that last over an hour, and many of them can also be enjoyed by your whole family.
What you eat doesn’t just affect your waistline. It can also impact your mood, emotions, and even certain conditions, such as depression. This makes sense, since the brain runs on the same sources of energy as our bodies and is also affected by hormonal changes, blood sugar levels, and many other biological processes. So far, we know that diets based on whole foods and high in fruits, vegetables, and unprocessed proteins can lift our mood and protect us from becoming depressed, while eating too much junk food and sugar can put our mental health at risk. Being at home can be a good chance to adopt new eating habits, trying exciting recipes you’ve never made before, and cooking meals with family.
When researchers talk about the concept of social connection, they’re referring to the feeling of belonging to a community and being close to other people in general. Scientific evidence suggests that this is a fundamental psychological need, crucial to feeling satisfied with one’s life. Listening to another person can be one of the most profound ways of feeling connected. Maintaining high-quality human relationships includes sharing our feelings, encouraging others to do the same, listening with kindness, and offering generous support.
Setting and Keeping Routines
Habits are a key component of the formula for wellness. It’s one thing to know what things and activities make us feel better and healthier, but it’s another to actually stick to them. One way to stay is to cultivate daily habits and routines, regardless of how small or insignificant they might seem, such as going to sleep and waking up at the same time every day or keeping your room clean. Similarly, a work routine does not necessarily have to be the most productive or efficient; it’s about doing something that feels good, keeps us disciplined, and helps us maintain a sense of order.
Sometimes, life can be stressful and difficult to cope with. Meditation, practicing yoga, and physical activity can all help ease the pressure. However, it might be surprising to know that one of the best tools for stress management is, quite simply, acceptance. A new study suggests that accepting situations helps reduce stress. When people accept difficult experiences, they allow them to run their course and dissipate, while resisting them often only makes them harder to overcome. Acceptance can help us stop focusing on what’s wrong and shift our attention to other feelings, sensations, and thoughts that are also taking place, allowing us to see a clear and complete picture of our circumstances.
This doesn’t mean people should be passive or stop making efforts to avoid or change negative situations. But practicing this type of acceptance works immediately to reduce our stress levels. Accepting our reality is often what allows us to be ready and able to make other necessary changes in our lives.
Sources: The best diet for mental health, BMC Medicine: A randomised controlled trial of dietary improvement for adults with major depression (the ‘SMILES’ trial), National institutes of Health: “Psychological mechanisms driving stress resilience in mindfulness training: A randomized controlled trial”, Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley, “Brief mindfulness meditation training reduces mind wandering: The critical role of acceptance”