If there is anything I have learnt about mental health in my adolescent years, it’s that it can be disruptive to your daily routine. The state of your mind holds the power to turn your life around on its head. When struggling with the very essence of your being, it can be really easy to feel out of control—as if your mind is keeping you from achieving the things you want for yourself. Poor mental health can leave you unmotivated, stripped of energy, and disconnected from your passions.
While the most effective and reliable way to treat mental health remains a doctor’s guidance, it is also a highly inaccessible resource for many reasons. Psychiatric counselling can not only be expensive, it can also be hard to ask for it in a society that stigmatises mental health. Moreover, the process to find a therapist and a practice that fits you well involves time, effort, money, and a lot of trial and error. But in a situation where adequate help is unavailable, there are little changes you can make to regain a sense of control of your life and get it back on track.
Setting up a routine can be a big step in the right direction. Now, if you’re anything like me, ‘routine’ is a scary word. It can be really tough, when lacking energy and motivation, to gather the strength to make tangible changes. But change doesn’t have to be scary! It doesn’t even have to be big. Starting small, and changing little things one at a time can slowly train your brain to get back to functioning without mental health acting as a barrier. Here are a few tips to help you set up a routine!
The first step to fixing a problem is admitting you have one. When trying to set up a routine, you can start by identifying the things that prevent you from having one. Are you sleeping in too late? Are you skipping meals? Are you watching too many episodes of New Girl every day? Once you identify what it is exactly that needs changing, it will be a lot easier to tackle the problem at hand with focus.
It’s a lot easier to modify a bad habit than to abandon it completely and pick up a good one. If you find it hard to stick to routines, it may be because you’re introducing too many changes too fast. Instead of setting an alarm for 6 am to do yoga when you’re used to sleeping in till 11 am, try pushing it back to 10 am one week, and so on. Once you’re waking up at a reasonable time, bring in yoga or something else that energises you into the mix. Remember, we humans are creatures of habits. That is both a curse and a blessing—it’s hard to break bad habits, but once you’ve replaced them with good ones, you can get into the groove of it.
When trying to bring about a real change in your habits, it’s important to have a solid vision of what you want out of the experience. When making a plan for the things you need to change, train your brain to set goals in tangible ways. For example, instead of saying “I want to be more motivated,” say, “In order to increase my motivation, I want to spend 20 minutes a day meditating to get in touch with my hopes and aspirations.” When you quantify progress, it’s a lot easier to achieve it.
I don’t know about you, but one of the biggest ways deteriorating mental health affects me is short-term memory loss. Journaling can not only help you keep track of what you’re doing every day, but also helps you process your emotions as you make changes to your lifestyle. I’m a big proponent of finding a best friend in yourself through journaling, and cannot recommend it enough to anyone trying to bring a meaningful change in their life.
At the end of the day, the purpose of creating a routine is to give yourself an avenue to connect with your deeper self. Doing things you enjoy will centre you and help with prioritising what’s important for you. You don’t have to spend an entire day on it either—I find that something as simple as making my coffee in the morning while listening to a podcast helps me start my day on the right foot. Find small things that you can create a routine out of, and if they are things you enjoy, they will only motivate you to invest more time in yourself!
Listen, the ‘M’ in ‘human’ stands for mistakes. We’re talking about changing your life here, it won’t happen overnight, and you will definitely mess up. When that happens, it’s important to remind yourself that failure is almost more guaranteed than success, but that doesn’t mean success is out of reach. Forgiveness and maintaining the spirit of change is what will keep you afloat when you mess up.
You’re doing this for yourself! So, don’t forget to reward yourself when you’re on the path to self-betterment. Positive reinforcement is the best way to build habits. Taking yourself out of a bad rut and being the driver of change in your life is not an easy feat. And you should reward yourself for taking control of your life. Buy yourself something nice—whatever that may be! You know yourself best, so you know best what will keep you going! If nothing else, the reward alone can be a motivator for your efforts.
Do you have any tips that have helped you create a routine? Drop them in the comments below!
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