Do These 5 Things Daily to Enhance Your Routine and Improve Mental Health
Routine and discipline are two of the keys to staying centered and maintaining your mental health. But different people need different routines, and some routines are more effective than others, so it can be difficult to know what to include. Below are five things that should improve anyone’s routine, and help you build a well-balanced lifestyle.
Meditate and Reflect
I do this every morning after I wake up, and every night before bed. Meditation can be thought of as simply experiencing yourself in the moment. It means sitting and observing everything internally, your thoughts, feelings, and sensations, and externally without judgement or a need to categorize or compartmentalize your experience. It is the ultimate expression of the idea of living in the moment.
This is not a difficult state to achieve. For me, its as simple as focusing on the taste and aromas coming from my morning cup of coffee, and how it feels as I drink it and look around me. It being without judgement, and doing whatever allows you to have that experience. Other then that, there is no correct way.
Meditation is essential for clearing the mind so you can look at things objectively. It clears a path for you to reflect and see things for how they are, the good and the bad, so you can make changes and adjust to create more of the good and less of the bad. This way, you can stay on top of yourself and your life, and not feel knocked off center from your day-to-day experience.
Clear your mind so you can see clearly.
Take Time to Plan
Having a plan helps you move forward without feeling aimless. I’ve found that a lot of the anxiety I experience in life is some form of over-analysis. This does not happen if I clearly define a plan for the day. It doesn’t have to be complicated, doing something as simple as writing down a to-do list can help. In my case, I stick strictly to a digital calendar that I adjust and rearrange daily.
Having a plan helps you attack the day proactively. The unexpected will always happen and try to throw a wrench in things, But if you have a good plan to fall back on, these things will just be stumbling blocks that you know you will get past, because you know and see the final destination. This provides a feeling of personal empowerment. You can feel that very little in life will disrupt you from your plan.
Planning brings certainty and confidence in the face of uncertainty.
Put Everything in Its Place
The reason for this is very similar to having a plan. Its about maintaining order, but in this case its order in your surrounding rather than your actions. And ordered surroundings help give a sense of order to a chaotic world.
Every morning, I make the rounds to every room in my apartment and move everything where it is supposed to go. All cups and dishes go to the sink, all books go to the bookshelf, or table, all clothes go in the laundry hamper, and everything gets straightened. It does not take long, at most ten minutes. And the end result is a relatively clean apartment and satisfaction from already doing something productive.
You become what you surround yourself with.
Limit Internet Usage
Information overload is very detrimental to mental health. It makes it difficult to stay centered and focused and moving forward according to plan. Today we carry around devices that provide a stream of distraction and information that is superfluous to our goals and plans. They can be invaluable tools when used as such, but often times they become ends in themselves.
What I do is set time limits to my use of network connected devices. I typically switch my devices into “Do Not Disturb” mode around 10pm, and leave them off for at least an hour after I wake up. Another general rule is not to open my computer or the web browser on my phone unless its for a specific task, or to look up a specific piece of information. And then I immediately switch it off. This helps me avoid the flood of information that makes me feel anxious and pulled in several directions.
We do not suffer for lack of information.
Take a Walk
We were made to be runners. Research suggests that back in the days when they were hunter-gatherers, our ancestors were expert long-distance runners. They spent most of their days upright and moving. It is something that is part of us, something that we evolved over millions of years. Which means its no surprise that even just a 30 minute daily walk has well-documented benefits for our health, both physical and mental.
Taking a walk lets us get back in touch with our bodies, and how they were meant to function. It helps us clear our minds. Most importantly, it again gives the sense of moving towards a goal. For me, this is very easy for me to do; I just simply take my dog for a walk three times a day.
You just have to keep walking.
Routine and discipline create an oasis of predictability in an otherwise chaotic world. They allow us a place where we can feel stable, comfortable, and empowered.