Today I want to talk to you about routines and, more specifically, how to build routines in a healthy and steady way. Especially because it’s usually on the new year’s resolutions list for many of us but, after a bit, this process can end up making us feel stressed, anxious or overwhelmed.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve often had an up and down relationship with routines or routine building. Especially when they were totally up to me to manage and work on.
At first, I’d feel very pumped and excited about it and super keen to do it! However, I’d often choose way too many routines to build and integrate during my daily life that I’d end up giving up very easily and feel bad about it and myself. From exercise and meditation every day to waking up early or lowering the screen time on my phone. Everything had to happen every day and consistently.
Not only was this not good for my mental and physical health, but it’d also make me go backwards instead of forwards. Something that always increased the negative thoughts about myself.
At the beginning of this year, though, I decided to make some changes. I wanted to build some routines in a healthier and more manageable way and to share the process with you.
Both as a way of holding myself accountable but to help you if you also struggle with this.
So, without further ado, here’s how to build routines in a healthy and steady way!
How to build routines in a healthy and steady way: the brainstorming
The first step in this routine building process is to brainstorm 1 to 2 routines to build each month.
Try not to plan all the routines you want to build for the year all at once as that might feel too overwhelming and stressful. Moreover, life is in a constant state of change so it’s better to decide on them when you feel sure and good about them.
As I said in the introduction, even for this year I was falling into the trap of choosing a countless number of routines to build. But this was already starting to push me down and make me feel anxious and nervous. That’s why I said to myself that 1 or 2 routines per month were more than enough.
When you are deciding which routines you want to build, try to choose some that are achievable, that can be broken down in smaller chunks (if they are big routines) and that makes you feel good or motivated when doing them.
Then, try to stick with them for the month and see how you feel! You can keep doing them and make them become part of your life or thank yourself for having tried them and let them go. But, if you are not enjoying them at all, then move on. Feel free to do so and to listen to your body and soul.
How to build routines in a healthy and steady way: how to keep track of the process
When it comes to keeping track of the progress of your routine building experience, the options are almost endless.
In my opinion, it’s better to have something physical that you can see, touch and fill out with your hands and in a conscious way. However, if you prefer to do it digitally then feel free to do so! Whatever works for you is the best way to go with.
I decided to use a notebook as a routine tracking device. With that, I googled a printable calendar (I got mine from Printable and Inspirations), printed each month two times and glued it on a page of the notebook.
This way, I can see my progress and I feel more motivated to keep going. It also keeps me accountable to do my routines as I cross off the day once I’ve completed them.
Whenever I look at the calendar and all the crosses on it, I feel good! A big sense of joy, proudness and excitement run through my body because I’m doing what I said I would!
By using a notebook as a tracking device, it can also work as a diary. You can write both motivational quotes and a summary of how you feel at the end of the journey. Or even mid-journey or at any time you want. Then, you can go back at it and see how you changed compared to before starting the routine and what you felt during it and after you’ve completed it.
The most important reminder, though, is to be kind to yourself. If you miss a few days, it’s fine. You might not feel good, keen or have too much going on. It happens.
When it does, give yourself a hug and a pat on your back. Then, tell yourself it’s okay and that you will honour your commitment the next day or the one after. If you need to stop for a longer time, that’s also okay. You can even change the routines with more achievable ones for that specific time.
I will keep updating this this post on how to build routines in a healthy and steady way with my future routines. Along with sharing my experience and journey with you. I’m already thinking about what routines to choose for the month of February!
I hope you found this post on How to build routines healthily and steadily helpful! How do you build your routines? Also, what routines do you want to build this year? Feel free to share your tips, suggestions and opinions in the comments your opinions about it!
My January routines
For the month of January the routines I chose are:
- Daily yoga;
- Daily cold showers.
Yoga every day
Yoga was something I used to do more consistently a few years ago and was seeing and feeling the results of it. However, due to my always moving around and also laziness, I stopped.
This changed when I discovered the Youtube channel Yoga with Adriene!
Her videos are very easy to follow, calming and perfect for anyone, beginners or more advanced yoga enthusiasts.
They also range in length so at times I choose a short one while other times a long one. It depends on how I’m feeling that day.
Cold showers every day
When it comes to cold showers, I would have never thought to try them or even try to build a routine around them!
What convinced me to gove them a go was a video by Paola Maugeri (it’s in Italian though), a wonderful human being whom I admire a lot. She talked about the benefits of cold water and weather and her experience with cold swims when she is in Sweden. Besides her experience, I also wanted to build a better relationship with cold water.
When I was a kid, I’d jump into the water without hesitation or concern about its temperature. Now, I tend to struggle a lot with swimming in the ocean or even in a pool because the water feels too cold. This puts me down because I’m missing out on something I love to do and enjoy.
Moreover, cold showers have quite a few benefits for our mood, body and skin which you can read more about on this article about the benefits of cold showers.
How to build routines in a healthy and steady way: January routines building review
Review of doing yoga every day
At the time of writing this post, I’m almost at the end of my two January routines. So here are some opinions about them and how I’m feeling about doing them every day.
The daily yoga is helping me unlock some of my joints, muscles and straightening my back. It’s also making me feel more conscious about breathing and how to do it more intentionally. I can feel my body different and more flexible. There are still days where I want to skip the yoga, but I know it’s a temporary feeling. Once I hit play, I know I can do it and, at the end of the lesson, my body and soul feel energised.
On the 23rd I didn’t manage to do yoga. I had a very bad sleep the night before which led me to waking up in a rush and with no sleep on that day. I wanted to go to the beach and was super late for the train. Once back at home, I didn’t have the energy to do anything. I thought about doing yoga because I didn’t want an empty spot on the calendar. However, it was too much for my body. I took a few breaths, accepted the situation, thought about the wonderful day I had and told myself that it was okay.
Review of taking cold showers every day
When it comes to the cold showers, I also saw some pretty good improvements that I’m so so proud of! It still feels a bit of a shock but I’m building strength and resistance. However, I don’t get into the shower with straight cold water. First, I wash myself with warm one, then I take some deep breaths while also gradually turning the hot water off.
When the cold water hits me, I feel the desire to smile! My body also gets a good dose of energy and I start to feel more and more ready to face the day. Especially after all the heat that was built up after yoga!
My upper back is usually sensitive to cold water so that’s where I try to focus my attention to. Depending on how I’m feeling, I try to spend at least 30 seconds under it. At times I got to a minute and a bit more.
I’m also seeing huge improvements when I’m at the beach! This is a picture of me after a good swim in the ocean. As you can see, I look extremely happy about it. This is because I had managed to get into the water straight away and without much hesitation or worry about its temperature. The day after, the water felt even colder but, instead of giving up, I focused on my breathing and went in! It felt cold but it didn’t matter because I didn’t give up!
I don’t know if this happened purely thanks to the morning cold showers or not, but I’m sure they helped reshape how I used to think and approach cold water. Now, I feel even more excited to go to the beach because I will enjoy it fully!
As you can see, on the 22nd I put half across on the cold showers calendar.
That’s because I wasn’t feeling doing a full cold shower. Instead, I just washed my arms and face with it. That’s okay. It would have been okay even if the day didn’t have any mark on it.
My February routines
For the month of February, the routines I chose are:
- Not biting my nails
- No screen time 1 hour before bed and for the first hour after I wake up
Not biting my nails
Biting my nails is something I’ve been dealing with since I can remember. In fact, I don’t really know of a time when my nails looked healthy, clean and similar to one another. This is because I’d bite them on a regular basis and, at times, even to the point of bleeding.
For me, biting my nails is the first thing I do when I’m feeling stressed, anxious, nervous or even bored. Unconsciously, I think it calms me down and lowers my anxiety level, and it often feels like it’s doing that. However, it’s not healthy at all and it’s not only ruining my nails but also my teeth.
This is why I chose to try and build a routine of not biting my nails. Or, at least, to try and be conscious of when I’m doing it and stop.
No screen time 1 hour before bed and for the first hour after I wake up
Screen time is something that most people struggle with. That’s because we have our phones always with us, from the moment we wake up to the moment we go to sleep if we manage to do so!
Lately, I noticed how much time I was spending in front of my phone and how it was affecting how I’d wake up and sleep. My sleep routine was non-existent because of the blue light in my eyes and constant “5 more minutes” thoughts.
Moreover, looking at my phone and social media as soon as my eyes would open was making me feel overwhelmed and it would feed my social comparison way too much.
How to build routines in a healthy and steady way: February routines building review
Review of not biting my nails
This was a routine I knew it wasn’t going to be easy, as you can also see from the picture. However, I’m feeling very happy and proud of myself and how I handled it.
- The fully marked days mean that I managed to not bite my nails at all
- The half marked days mean that I played too much with my nails in my mouth and I bit them a bit
- The blank days mean that I actively engaged in the process of biting my nails and succeeded
Besides trying not to bring my nails to my mouth and bite them, it felt a bit challenging to manage my anxiety in a different way than this. I tried to do conscious breathing, more meditation or spend time outside and they did help me but, on some days, I allowed my mind to be stronger than me and bit my nails. It’s okay, though. I acknowledge it and it was my responsibility and choice to do so.
Other than that, I felt extremely happy to see my nails growing and to be able to actually use them! Tasks like stretching myself, getting rid of stickers or opening certain lids felt very new and rewarding. Moreover, I can feel my nails being more strong, tough and healthy which makes me so happy!
I definitely want to actively work on keeping this routine going and improving it!
Review of no screen time before bed and after waking up
Even for this routine I knew it wasn’t going to be easy. I have my phone with me all the time and use it more than I should. Many times I actively decide to engage with it and zone out from the moment, the people I’m with and get lost in it. Most specifically, when it comes to using it at night and morning, it was starting to affect both my physical and mental health.
At night, I would use it until late and then disrupt my sleep schedule and in the morning I’d start the day by looking at other people’s highlights which was a great way to feed social comparison.
On the days that are fully marked, I managed to stick with this routine and felt very good! I would go to sleep at a very good time, my eyes didn’t feel dry nor tired and I was able to get a good and deep sleep.
On the half marked ones, I either used my phone intermittently to check some stuff or reply to some work messages or instead of a full hour, it was a bit less. I still felt good although, sometimes, my anxiety or stress would rise a bit because I wanted to stick with the routine but also use my phone.
On the blank ones, I actively engaged and chose to use my phone until late at night or from the beginning of the day even though I knew it wasn’t beneficial for me. This is when the effects of skipping this routine hit me the most and made me feel super tired, anxious, nervous along with ruining my sleep. I would always want to check my phone and kept chatting with people even when my eyes couldn’t stay open.
I want and can keep building this routine because the positives of it are very valuable and make me feel good.
How to build routines in a healthy and steady way: March routines building review
Review of doing back exercises
A trait of my body that I always received comments about, both positive and negative, is my back. Most specifically, its structure and its not being always straight. I don’t often feel it or see it, but my back often tends to curve forward, along with my neck.
So, when one day I saw this video on Instagram, I decided to try and build a routine around it. The exercises are very simple, easy to do and don’t take long. You can do them at any time, even though the video suggests before going to bed.
The first days I started doing them, my body didnt feel super sooth. The second excercise felt especially tough at first. However, the more I did them, the more I noticed and felt some changes. I could push my body a bit more every day and I felt my muscles more “unlocked”. I don’t really know if my back is more straight than before though.
Besides that, I really want to keep doing them because they don’t take long and still give you some good results!
Review of reading 10 minutes per day
Oh, reading! A great way to feed your brain, escape reality for a bit and learn new stuff. In all honesty, I’ve been through different phases when it comes to reading.
There are times when I start a book, commit to it and try to finish it. There are other times when I don’t read for long or close a book before finishing it.
I don’t conisder myself a bookworm, but I know that reading is a good activity for your brain and soul. Plus, you can really learn so many new things from books! That’s why I decided to build a routine around it and to read for at least 10 minutes per day.
It might seem a very short amount of time for it, but it helped me trick my mind into actually doing it. I knew that if I had chosen a longer time, it would have felt more challenging to commit to it. Also, many times I would keep reading way past the 10 minutes. But this helped me to actually pick the book and start.
During this month, I read “The power is within you” by Louise Hay. This book was truly eye-opening and inspirational and I really loved Louise’s way of writing. This book helped me develop a kinder, more compassionate and loving language towards me.
I started saying positive affirmations to myself, forgive me for making decisions not aligned with my goals and believe more in my capabilities.
Moving forward, I want to keep this routine alive. Especially whenever I find books to read but my mind tries to trick me into thinking that I don’t have time to read them!