We talk a lot about taking time for yourself and creating self-care routines to improve your mood. But, can setting a daily routine in general be beneficial? Can you improve your mood by routinely getting up at the same time each morning and going to bed at the same time each night? Research says, yes, keeping a routine has mental health benefits. Dr. Brad Brenner writes, “…creating predictable scenarios through habits allows your mind to adjust, understand what to expect, and alleviate anxiety over the unknown.”

Scheduling down time

Creating a routine allows us to see where we can schedule down time as well. It seems that a lot of us feel we need to work all the time, and to be productive the entire day. Since the Covid pandemic, a lot of people are working from home and that can make it difficult to distinguish a regular working schedule, especially if we are also homeschooling children at the same time. However, setting a routine that includes an end to the work day and time for play are both important to our overall health. 

According to WebMD, “You'll be happier. If you have a schedule, you can build in time for play. Yes, adults need playtime, too. Whether it's reading, playing a video game, or watching birds at a feeder, downtime is good for your mental health. Without a plan, you may come to the end of the day without having spent time on pleasure.”

Decision fatigue

Scheduling our tasks for the day can help us avoid decision fatigue, which is “…a state of mental overload that can impede a person’s ability to continue making decisions.” The more decisions that you need to make in a day, the more difficult it can get to make a clear decision. If you are able to create a routine for basic daily tasks, then that opens up the mental energy to make other decisions. Decision fatigue can be draining, so use your calendar as a tool to save energy and avoid making impulsive decisions.  

Try This

  • Streamline your choices by planning ahead. 
  • Make lists so you avoid wasting energy trying to decide what’s most important to do next.
  • If you’re going to the grocery store, a list will save you time and energy
  • Pick out your clothes in the evening for the next day
  • Set up automatic payments for your recurring bills
  • Use your phone calendar to schedule your day
  • Use the automatic reminders to help you keep to the schedule
  • Delegate choices when you can
  • When you make a decision, be happy with it - don’t worry about it being right or wrong, just know that you made the best decision you could at the time.

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