Happy New Year! Instead of talking habits, which seems to be a very popular topic right now (rightly, so as habits are very important in establishing a healthy lifestyle), I want to focus on routines. If you are a person who picks a word to focus on each year, consider the word “routine” for 2023. When you hear the word routine what do you think of? Mundane? Boring? If this is the case, I want you to change your mindset around routine and begin to see routine as synonymous with words like health, energy, peace. As adults, we have a lot of decisions to make from the minute the alarm goes off. WebMd hit upon this in an article I found titled Psychological Benefits of Routines. “Hit snooze, or get up right away? Coffee before shower, or shower first? What should I wear?” Decisions can be stressful so reducing the number of decisions you must make during the day can reduce stress leading to a healthier and happier you. What can reduce all these decisions? Healthy Routines.
Not only will establishing healthy routines benefit you but also your family. Like adults, children do well with routines. I remember as a teacher, the first several weeks of school were dedicated to establishing classroom routines. The more time I spent up front on routines with my children the easier the rest of the year would go. Routines help children feel safe and secure and according to WebMD, routines can “reduce the chances of a child showing symptoms of hyperactivity, impulsiveness and other behavior disorders.”
The three most important routines you can establish for your health (and therefore your families health) are morning routines, evening routines and a routine around cooking/meal planning.
A morning routine can start your day off in a more peaceful place. This past Sunday there was only one church service, and it was at 10 am not the normal 10:30 am. Around 8:40 that morning, Lee (my husband) and I were still in pjs working on cooking breakfast, we discovered service was at 10. We rushed to eat, shower, and get dressed and over to church. I remember commenting as I threw myself into his truck that many people rush like this every day. Lee calls it “going somewhere with hair on fire.” No fun.
The following is my morning routine which ensures my hair is never on fire:
- Wake up 4:30 am (sometimes 5) with my sunrise alarm
- Head downstairs to make coffee and warm lemon water
- Drink warm lemon water first then coffee while reading two devotionals and then praying
- Scroll and post on FB/Instagram
- Read the news
- I’ll make a “to do” list for the day
- After 2 cups of coffee, I drink water and get ready for a run (5 mornings a week) or some form of exercise at home (weights, yoga etc)
- Cook and eat breakfast
- Often as I cook, I talk to my mom on the phone
- Many mornings a week I teach class at 9:15
I get many things done by 9 am because it is routine. Your morning routine will look different but still should accomplish the same things. A well thought out routine should lead to a great and productive morning. As you establish your routine, think about priorities and commitments. You will need time to eat a healthy breakfast, exercise, drink water, write a “to-do” list, and perhaps pray, meditate and or journal.
An evening routine should be established with the purpose of winding down before bedtime. Children have routines but when we become adults, we let this routine go for some reason. The following is my evening routine during the winter months (spring and summer Lee and I walk after dinner)
- 5 pm I come into the kitchen to cook dinner
- Eat at 6 pm with Lee
- After dinner Lee and I clean up the kitchen
- Around 6:45-7 (sometimes earlier depending) we will do a Bible Study
- 15-20 minutes later we settle down on the couch with low lighting or no lights (right now it is Christmas tree lights only) and watch an episode or 2 of a show
- Around 8:30 PM sometimes closer to 9 though 8:30 is preferred we will head upstairs and get ready for bed
- In bed around 8:45 and we will read.
- I will go to sleep around 9 to 9:15.
Like my morning routine, my evening routine will be different from yours but should still have the same components and serve the same purpose. Dinner should be served as early as possible as you should wait three hours after you’ve eaten to go to bed. This is how long digestion takes place and you can’t properly digest your food and sleep soundly at the same time. Leave time to relax. We watch TV but other activities could be drinking sleepy tea, taking a bath, doing gentle yoga, meditating etc.
Planning and Cooking Meals. As humans, we must eat for survival and we have been eating by cooking our own food for many, many years. And as many know, one can’t out exercise a poor diet. As I drive down Boundary Street in Beaufort at really any given hour of the day, there are always cars going through Chick Fil A. It makes me wonder just how many people cook at home. Dr. Mark Hyman believes, “Cooking at home is one of your most valuable and accessible tools to long-lasting health and disease prevention. “It’s been found that the more people prepare their own meals at home, the healthier their diet is and the less likely they are to have obesity and Type 2 Diabetes.” This is how I make sure Lee and I eat most of our meals from home.
- I go to the grocery store on Fridays (sometimes its Thursday)
- The day before I go to the store or that morning, I will fill out a meal planner/grocery list sheet that hangs out on my fridge where I can see it daily
- I focus on planning dinners because Lee and I have the same breakfast and lunch everyday
- I will first check our calendars and note anything going on that week- church activities, school activities or sports activities for my niece/nephew or if Lee is traveling. Often these interruptions mean I will need dinner to be already prepared so having leftovers on these nights or a crockpot meal is the easiest
- Then I will check out my Facebook page to see if I have shared any recipes or I will go through a few of my favorite blogs looking for recipes.
- I will jot down the blog, recipe, and ingredients I will need. I will note how many days this recipe will last
- I will go through the pantry, fridge, and cabinets to note anything else we need
- Then I go to the store on Fridays and then the Farmers Market on Saturday
Having this established routine has many benefits. 1) It saves money and prevents wasted food 2) and it takes the guess work out of wondering what I should cook tonight. At the end of the day, you are tired and probably very stressed and already having a plan in place for dinner will keep you from reaching for the phone to call in a pizza order (something quick and convenient). Quick and convenient rarely means healthy. Again, your routine will look different from mine, but the components should still be there. As you sit down to make your routine, think about the following things: 1) the best time and day to go shopping 2) purchasing an organizer for meal plannings and making grocery lists 3) your evening schedule that might include sports practices, games, after school activities, jobs, school events etc. 4) making meals ahead of time 5) tools to help make cooking easy like insta pot or crockpot
I hope by reading my routines that you are inspired to start your own and that you see how important the routines can be. Start by establishing these three routines (or tweak the ones you already have). Healthy routines is what makes a healthy lifestyle and a healthy lifestyle is what it is all about. Happy 2023!!