Summer is a time of year that offers the chance to break from our usual mode and go with the flow, but as it winds down a myriad of emotions can emerge. Perhaps you’re itching for the new school term to begin and ready for a fresh start, or maybe you’re apprehensive at the thought of transitioning back into work after being in holiday mode.
Either way, the beginning of Autumn (regarded as the first day of September by meteorologists!) offers an opportunity to pause and reset your routine for the final few months of the year. The definition of a ‘reset’ is to begin again after a period of rest or change, and I love thinking about starting September in this way.
Adjusting or changing your routine after a busy summer can be invigorating, helping you reconnect to what’s important and encouraging a sense of excitement for the weeks ahead. There’s also lots of evidence to show that routines can have a positive impact on our physical and mental health.
The Science-Backed Benefits of a Routine
On the one hand, having a daily routine might seem mundane, but there are many tangible benefits that come from having a regular rhythm to your day.
For example, studies show that having a consistent sleep schedule (so that you go to bed and wake up at the same time each day) can help regulate your body's internal clock, leading to better sleep quality. And who doesn’t want better sleep?!
Routines also give us a sense of predictability and stability, which can help reduce stress and anxiety. Anxiety is often triggered by uncertainty, and whilst this can’t be avoided completely, a daily routine brings a level of stability and predictability that can be comforting.
Having a routine can also help us balance our own needs with the needs of others. Is there space for you to exercise and enjoy a hobby that you love alongside work and parenting for example? Routines can help us move towards our goals by enabling us to take consistent steps towards them on a daily or weekly basis.
How to Reset Your Routine
So where to start with resetting your routine? You might have a few ideas of how you’d like your days and weeks to flow for the next few months, but if not, grab a notebook, a cup of tea and give yourself 30 minutes to explore the following questions:
- What are your goals and priorities for the next few months, and what type of daily habits and routines would help you get there? For example, do you want to work on reducing your stress levels, would you like to make more space for hobbies and activities that bring you joy? Eat healthier meals? Prioritise more time to read? If you’re struggling, think across a few different areas: for example health, self, work or relationships
- What has worked well before and what has left you feeling drained? What daily or weekly habits help you feel good? These are ones to continue with. Of the things that leave you drained, what can you reduce, ask for help with, or opt out of?
- From your priorities list, what 3-5 things do you want to build into a daily or weekly routine? Remember that it’s impossible to do EVERYTHING that we need and want to do; attempting to do so just results in overwhelm or worse still, burnout. A better approach is to consciously choose a handful of things to focus on and make progress with for the next 3-4 months. So for example you could decide to do a 5 minute morning meditation, a 20 minute jog with a favourite podcast on a Wednesday evening and Saturday morning and a coffee date with a friend once a week.
18 Ideas for Inspiration:
- 5-10 minutes morning meditation or mindfulness
- Take your tea or coffee outside each morning for 10 minutes
- Disconnect from technology 60 minutes before bed
- Dedicate 10 minutes to reading every day
- Lift weights twice a week
- Journal for 5 minutes each morning or evening
- Create a calming evening ritual to signal to your body that it's time to wind down
- Meal plan once a week
- Batch cook once a week
- Take a 15 minute walk outdoors each lunchtime
- Do 5 minutes of stretching before bed
- Schedule a regular time to do exercise that you enjoy
- Take 10 minutes each week to review and keep on top of your finances
- Set aside 15 minutes a day to do something you find fun or relaxing
- Book a course or a workshop in something new
- Take time to be social - call a friend or book a dinner date once a week
- Spend 20 minutes clearing clutter once a week
- Go to bed at the same time each night (early enough to allow for 8 hours sleep)
From here, design a routine that includes your chosen priorities alongside your work and parenting commitments. Plan out your week using a diary or weekly planner as a reminder, and let other family members know what you’re doing (and where they can help out!)
Give Your New Routine a Test DriveOnce you’ve got your routine sketched out, the next step is to give it a test drive and see how it feels. If it doesn’t work for you, move things around to find what feels good. If you’ve over-committed, take something away. It’s about finding what feels good. Don’t forget that our priorities and needs change throughout the year, so if you find this a helpful exercise, try repeating it at the start of each new season.
Have you outlined a routine you’re excited about? Share your reset with us using #MySeptemberReset @symproveyourlife @nutritilty