Life is full of surprises. When an unexpected change occurs, it can easily throw us off track. But, routines create structure in an unpredictable world and facilitate a sense of control and stabilization. Routines are something we can determine and rely on. They promote balance and have a positive impact on mental health, serving as an anchor during uncertain times. Healthy routines also have positive effects on our physical health, sleep, productivity and relationships.
Many teens and young adults are figuring out their routines and often, they need guidance in establishing an efficient structure. Through coaching, my clients learn to identify and prioritize their responsibilities and to-dos. I take them through a process to clarify the actions and routines that will set them up for success.
For example, Audra* (name changed), a sophomore in college, was feeling totally exhausted and overwhelmed with her demanding tennis practice, rigorous classes, and busy social calendar. She was lacking sleep, letting go of healthy eating habits, and generally feeling more irritable and less productive. It was apparent that something had to change. We talked about what she needed in order to feel her best on the court, focus in class and study effectively, and have the energy to spend time with her friends. She knew better sleep and meal routines would make a huge difference but wasn’t sure where to start. I introduced her to time-blocking and she outlined a schedule for the week, which included an earlier bedtime and wind-down routine, as well as designated times to make and enjoy healthy meals.
Before coaching, she kept her schedule in her head and thought she didn’t have time to prepare meals or prepare herself for rest. The time-blocking approach allowed her to see that she actually had plenty of time for these routines as well as all responsibilities. Our conversations helped her connect with the importance of these self-care routines, which motivated her to stay accountable. After just two weeks, she felt a difference!
Very often, when coaching teens and young adults in this area, they ask about my routines.
A couple of my favorite routines happen every morning and evening. One of my favorite ways to wind down after a busy day is by washing my face and brushing my teeth, getting into bed early, and listening to a calming meditation or reading. This relaxes both my body and mind and lulls me into a restful sleep.
My morning routine is precious. I have always been an early riser and love starting my day with a warming cup of coffee. In the still of the morning, I spend time checking my emails and preparing myself for the day ahead. Since most of my day is spent in front of the computer coaching parents, teens, and young adults, I make it a point to move my body every morning. A brisk walk, energetic run, calming yoga, or what my partner calls, my “Jane Fonda” workouts always help me feel energized and focused.
What routines help you stay balanced and healthy?