The Importance of Establishing Routine | West Suburban YMCA

The Importance of Establishing Routine

Jul 28, 2020

During these uncertain times, many individuals and families have had a sudden loss of structure.  People are suddenly working from home, kids finished the school year virtually, regular activities have changed, and travel plans have stopped.  The social isolation and lack of a schedule can cause stress and anxiety. 

“In this time of uncertainty, it is easy to get overwhelmed and anxious about the current state of affairs and about what the future holds,” explains Jane Carroll, Health and Wellness Director at the West Suburban YMCA.  “That is why now even more than ever it is important to create a sense of normalcy for you and your family. Schedules create a sense of purpose and guidance.” 

There are many things that you can include as a part of a daily routine. Use some of the ideas below to build routines and habits that help you stay healthy. 

  • Practice healthy sleep habits.  Go to bed and wake up at the same time every night, including weekends.  Avoid caffeine and heavy meals too close to bed, remove electronic devices from your bedroom, and keep your room dark, cool, and comfortable.
  • Create dedicated workspaces. If you are working from home or if kids are doing virtual learning, designate a space for those particular activities to take place, even if it’s just a seat at the kitchen table.
  • Try the Pomodoro technique. This is a technique for getting tasks done: set a timer for 25 minutes and then take a 5-minute break. The goal of the Pomodoro technique is to allow you to cut down interruptions and increase focus.
  • Start or resume an exercise regimen.  Physical exercise habits can come in all forms, such as walking your dog, doing yardwork, or joining us here at the Y!  Getting outside for exercise is best if the weather permits.  At the Y, the outdoor track and field is open for use, and we have an expanding schedule of outdoor exercise classes.
  • Eat healthy meals on a regular schedule.  It is easy to graze and skip meals when you’re spending more time at home but keeping a healthy diet while maintaining a schedule will help you feel better and more energized. 
  • Enjoy quality time with your immediate family.  Cook together, enjoy family dinners, create weekly game nights and movie nights.  Exercising with your family is a lot of fun, too!  Join us at the Y for family swim or basketball, open by reservation
  • Take time to relax and unwind.  Enjoy a good book, movie, or a cup of tea.  Meditation and yoga are also excellent ways to take a moment to decompress at the end of the day.  Get started with this guided meditation

“By developing or maintaining a routine, you will hold yourself accountable and keep yourself healthy. Now is the time we want to build up our immune systems, not ruin them,” adds Carroll. 

“Waking up and going to sleep at or around the same time every night, eating nutritious, well-balanced meals throughout the day, and making time for exercise – either for your alone time and sanity or for a fun activity to do with the family – is extra important right now.”

Focusing on habits and actions you can control promotes feelings of agency over your life, which is particularly important during times of uncertainty. Once you establish or re-establish your routine, you can expect to experience a decrease in your stress level. A few simple changes to your day is all it takes to get started!