Creating a Routine to Boost Your Wellbeing

Creating a Routine to Boost Your Wellbeing

I am sure we are all familiar with that feeling when the morning alarm goes off! Yes, being faced with the same to-do list as yesterday, which we will work hard to tick off and then proceed to go through it all again tomorrow.

Or, maybe it’s the opposite to that and it feels like there is no structure or routine, which leads to us losing our sense of direction.

Not only from a personal perspective but also having supported thousands of people with their mental health, I have seen how both of these situations can easily spiral into stress, anxiety and depression if left unchecked.

When we feel like we are constantly having to ‘do’ for fear of falling behind/letting people down (or any other dialogue our inner critic comes up with), we prioritise tasks from a threat position, which increases our levels of stress and at the same time, means we are not prioritising a routine that includes self-care, fun and connection to things that support our wellbeing. The combination of pushing through & neglecting our needs can lead to further stress and burnout.

On the other hand, having no routine can lead to a decrease in activity of our endorphins and dopamine system, which can make it feel impossible to muster up motivation to get going on anything. This becomes a downward spiral of boredom, lethargy and can really leave us vulnerable to the impact negative thoughts, low mood and anxiety. Don’t get me wrong, having nothing in the diary can be a blessing and gives us time to be spontaneous and do something different. But consistently having no structure can feel very uncomfortable because it is unpredictable and lacks a sense of control. This consequently impacts our nervous system.

We really need to build a balance between these two states. The key here is to do this one step at a time. If you have a lot to get through each day then it’s not going to be realistic to stop doing everything and replace it with 12 hours of self-care every day! Anyway, a sense of being productive and having a purpose is very important for our mental health so we need this in our life. Think about one thing you could do for yourself which you can prioritise over one of the other things and make it important for you to do.

Remember if you need to have a chat with yourself about this for fear of letting others down; you cannot pour from an empty cup! Nurturing yourself will mean you are better equipped to nurture others too.

However, if you are struggling with anxiety or depression and find it hard to get going at all, it is even more important to take things one step at a time and not overwhelm yourself.

Research shows that breaking it down enough to do one thing, and to it consistently, will boost our inner system and also our psychological state so that we gain momentum. But it is important not to put pressure on yourself. Having a sense of what your day involves and that you have planned some of this will help you feel more in control.

Even if you consider this in terms of the positive impact it has generally; a healthy routine lowers the stress hormones and that is what we want! Higher stress hormones actually hinder our overall health.

For example, if your stress levels are high, this will be impacting your hormonal system. This will have a double whammy impact on peri-menopausal symptoms as cortisol levels are

already yoyoing and we need a fine balance of cortisol or it can go from being our motivating best friend to a terrorising enemy. Not to mention that when a woman’s ovaries stop being a source of hormones, our bodies rely even more on the adrenal glands; which is where the stress hormones are produced.

Is there any better reason than making now the time to take some of these small steps to reducing daily stress and take control of your routine and empower you to take back more control over your health and your life.

With this in mind… What do you need to include in your routine that can boost your mental health?


This is a great way of getting the endorphins going and looks after both physical and mental health. Research on the positive effects of exercise is endless and I am sure you will be aware of how it can benefit you if you are a member of Running Woman!

Self check-in times!

This is important as it helps us check-in with how we are feeling and what’s on our minds. If we don’t do this then it either gets pushed down and filtered through the body via physical problems, such as low immune system and getting run down, or we become a pressure cooker and it builds up and starts to dominate our behaviour indirectly.

Taking time to check in with ourselves helps give this some space to be processed. I find that journaling is an excellent way of doing this. Even when I don’t know what to write, I just write! Whatever comes to my mind, even if I feel blank, I write about feeling blank and this usually directs me somewhere. It also helps to declutter my mind and improve my focus.

Write a letter to yourself

Research into mindfulness based cognitive therapy has shown that including both pleasurable AND productive activities in your day can take you into an upward spiral and lift depression. But it is hard to see this when you are struggling. One way to support yourself is to write a letter to yourself when you are feeling positive and from a place of wisdom; write to let yourself know that even though you might feel rubbish right now, these are the things which you know deep down will help… and list some little activities with some encouraging words.

Down time

This includes time for you and connection to others who you enjoy spending time with. Down time activates the soothing regulation system and helps us feel calmer and relaxed.

Anything that you find fun or creative!!!

Plus, the more consistent you are with building in time for this, the better you will feel and the more this fun and creativity will flow for you.

    I hope these tips are useful, think about how you might start incorporating some of these in your routine and watch your energy and mojo return!! Small steps make all the difference.

    This article was written by Dr Joanna Astill, Principal Clinical Psychologist, Owner of Breakthrough Psychology Services and Co-owner of Stressed Out to Feeling Fabulous

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