Some people love having a predictable schedule, while others tend to take things day by day. While this is often chalked up to an inconsequential personal preference, it is worth considering the implications of routine on your wellbeing. While it may seem trivial, having a daily routine can have a significant impact on your mental health, physical wellbeing, and ability to engage in daily activities.
Circadian Rhythm: The Body’s Clock
The human body has its own internal clock, called the circadian rhythm, which runs according to an approximately 24-hour cycle. The circadian rhythm is most well-known for regulating our sleep cycles, but it also does so much more! Our internal clocks are active throughout all the cells in the body and are responsible for regulating and timing bodily functions such as temperature, cognitive performance, blood pressure, organ functions, and release of digestive enzymes and hormones. Our internal clock relies on cues and patterns in the surrounding environment, such as light and mealtimes, to understand how to best synchronize bodily functions. This synchrony of our circadian rhythm with the surrounding environment is important for long-term health, and it can even affect how our bodies react to medications.
Disruptions to the Circadian Rhythm
In understanding that our body’s natural circadian rhythm manages all of our essential biological processes, it also makes sense that the human body functions better when eating, sleeping, performing personal care, and exercising are set to a regular schedule. When our routine is changed significantly, or when we perform daily tasks on an inconsistent basis, our circadian rhythm does not function as it is supposed to and can cause disruption to healthy bodily processes. A common example of harmful disruption to the body’s natural clock can be seen in people experiencing jetlag. However, there are many more subtle ways that a person’s circadian rhythm can be disrupted. Something as simple as eating meals at irregular times can have a major influence on the functioning of our internal clocks. Of course, it’s not always reasonable or possible to schedule every aspect of our day, but it is important to consider how your daily routine may be affecting your body!
Routines and Mental Wellness
While having a stable routine is important for everyone to maintain good health, this becomes even more important when the body is healing, or processing major stressors, or going through life transitions. Lack of structure can contribute to feelings of anxiety and poor productivity while establishing patterns in your day can help you manage your time, improve focus, and more easily face any challenges that occur. Many people find that having a stable structure to their day provides feelings of comfort and security. While it is most important to schedule your most basic activities such as sleeping and eating, healthy routines often involve more than your day-to-day responsibilities: they can include making time for your hobbies, interests, and social activities too!
Where to Start
When starting to incorporate a more stable routine into your day, start with some healthy basics to give yourself a good foundation.
- Eat meals and snacks at approximately the same time each day. Skipping meals or eating on an irregular routine can cause headaches, fatigue, and reduce the body’s ability to heal. Eating healthy meals on a regular routine will help to create a schedule that can allow your body to perform optimally. Eating meals regularly can also help maintain healthy digestion and avoid metabolic issues.
- Go to bed and wake up at approximately the same time every day. Without a consistent sleep schedule, your circadian rhythm can become disrupted which can result in difficulty sleeping, weakened immune system, and heightened risk for chronic health problems. In contrast, having a regular sleep and wake schedule will allow you to and improve the quality of your sleep, experience less fatigue during the day, and improve your immune system and digestive health!
Services at Health Bound
Creating and sticking to a new routine can be hard to do on your own. At Health Bound, we offer services that can help you integrate a healthy routine into your daily life:
- Occupational Therapy: Occupational Therapists (OTs) are trained to use a holistic approach with a focus on a person’s ability to function in their environment. An OT can work with you directly to create, implement, and manage a daily routine that fits your unique needs.
- Counselling: Counselling from a psychologist or social worker can help you to objectively look at the thoughts, behaviours, and feelings that may be causing trouble in your daily life. They can help by recommending strategies to stay motivated and consistent routine.
Having a daily routine is not only comforting and productivity-boosting, but it is also important for your health and well-being. Remember, adhering to a routine can be difficult, but it is possible with time and effort. When you deviate from your routine one day, don’t give up! If you find that something isn’t working for you then make adjustments until you find the routine that works best for you.
If you need more information or help getting started, check out some of these resources.
- How to Create a Daily Routine: https://www.thespruce.com/how-to-create-a-daily-routine-2648007
- Daily Routine During a Pandemic: https://www.verywellmind.com/the-importance-of-keeping-a-routine-during-stressful-times-4802638#:~:text=Implementing%20a%20structure%20to%20your,make%20time%20for%20self%2Dcare.
- Streaks: This app helps you form and track healthy habits, with rewards for consistency.
- Balanced: This app helps you keep track of and measure your sleeping patterns and your exercise.
- Strides: This app helps you track new habits and routines, with customizable reminders to help you stay on track.