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Are Routines Good for Mental Health and How Can They Be Established?

Updated: Nov 9, 2023

Cultivating a Positive Environment To Foster Quality Mental Health Through Routine

In adulthood, we can sometimes feel a little lost in our ways.

Long gone are the days when we had someone telling us what to do and what events our days will hold. While freeing, that responsibility can put a weight on our shoulders.

“How can I nurture my mental health if I can't even decide what to eat for dinner tonight?”

We have all been there.

Building a simple daily routine may help alleviate some of our daily stressors like planning our meals. It could also help us manage our time to leave more opportunities to prioritize ourselves and our mental health.

This article will explain the mental health benefits that routines may generate, the difference between primary and secondary routines, and a few tips for implementing a daily routine with your mental health in mind.

Table of Contents

A woman sitting in a chair relaxing and looking off into the distance.

Are Routines Good for Mental Health?

Good routines may contribute to good mental health, just as bad routines may maltreat your mental health.

You don’t have to micromanage your routines to the point where you become distressed and disordered if you misstep. Your routine doesn’t have to include one big change or feat that may not be possible to always fulfill.

A good routine doesn’t mean you are doing what everyone else is doing, you’re just doing what is good for you and creating an environment that fosters your mental health. When you plan your routine around the betterment of the mind, body, and soul, you may begin to reap the benefits of having a routine in the first place.

Health is holistic and having a good mental health routine may lead to a betterment of mental health, but it should not be a substitute for professional mental health treatments or advice. If you or a loved one is experiencing lasting or worsening mental health issues, you may want to seek professional help.

Routines May Lead To Increased Productivity

Routines may support and improve cognitive function.

According to a new study led by Pittsburgh University researchers, older adults who get up and remain on an active day-to-day schedule performed better on cognitive tests than their counterparts with irregular activity schedules.

Further research has found that routines may also foster creativity and prompt individuals to become more innovative.

Establishing a routine may help you:

  • Prioritize tasks with ease so that you can accomplish more in less time

  • Manage your time and help you find time to do more of the things you enjoy

  • Provide purpose and meaning to your day

  • Help you remember to find time to socialize and communicate with loved ones

Routines May Lead To Lower Levels of Stress

Stress reduction may be one of the biggest psychological benefits of maintaining a beneficial routine.

With a routine, you become more prepared and adhere to a schedule. Preparedness reduces stress because you have more control over your day-to-day functions. For those who are worrywarts, predictability leaves little room for disaster.

A 2011 study from Tel Aviv University studied the effects of ritualistic routines and habits and found that certain formed habits may naturally be calm-inducing in the face of stressful situations.

Routine tactics you could employ to manage stress might include:

  • Before you go to bed, pick your outfits out for the next day

  • Plan your meals or meal prep

  • Leave the house ten minutes before you’re supposed to

  • Keep what you need for the day organized and in the same location

Primary Routines vs. Secondary Routines

Primary routines are inviolable tasks that we must complete for survival. Any perfunctory task that you must routinely do to maintain yourself is a part of your primary routine. Examples of primary routine duties would be eating, sleeping, hygiene, etc.

Secondary routines are routines that are not mandatory in the sense that you will die if you don’t act on them (as opposed to primary routines).

Secondary routine tasks typically include:

  • Hobbies

  • Leisure activities

  • Social relationships

  • Exercise

  • Work

  • Education

Both primary and secondary routines are necessary to maintain a good physical and mental health routine.

Primary Routines That May Be Good for Mental Health

Sleep Routines

Establishing a consistent sleep routine may be beneficial for your mental health. Studies have found that inadequate sleep may compound over time and negatively affect an individual’s mental health.

Poor sleep may over time compound into sleep deprivation. Sleep deprivation may change areas of the brain resulting in an increased negative emotion response and a decreased positive emotion response.

Tips you may want to employ when creating a sleep routine might be:

  • Create a consistent schedule and stick with it. Go to bed and wake up at the same time.

  • Make a ritual out of preparing for sleep. Have a cup of herbal tea, stretch, do a skincare routine, brush your teeth, etc. Do small things that you might find enjoyable and relaxing to help you wind down.

  • Avoid food or caffeine at least two hours before bed. Digestion can disrupt sleep.

  • Employ relaxation techniques like meditation, yoga, or stretching. Breathing techniques may also help you easily slip into slumber.

  • Avoid screens right before bed. Put your phone on the charger and turn off the TV. Instead, read a book in bed or journal until you are ready to sleep.

Diet Routines

People often use the phrase, “an apple a day keeps the doctor away,” as, “do things that keep you in good health,” or even, “eat more apples!”

This may ring true, but the emphasis of the phrase should be on routine. As in, you’re supposed to routinely eat good things like apples (but not just strictly apples) to maintain and promote good health.

Studies have found that there may be a correlation between junk food and mental health issues. So you may want to avoid processed food and lots of sugar. A routine may be a good start to eating whole foods and avoiding nutrition-empty foods. Plan your meals ahead, or even meal prep, to help you eat better.

You should routinely eat things that are good for your holistic self—mind, body, and spirit.

Often we crave things that create temporary, but fleeting, moments of joy. We sometimes deserve them, after all. Life is hard. You deserve a sweet treat or a weekend TV binge every once in a while, but sometimes we create bad habits or routines from overindulgence.

Good Bitters has created a candy that may help supplement your extraction from overindulgence and bring you inward to the good bitterness of life’s balance. Kalm Drops uses the calming herbal properties of Silk Tassel to help you rebalance your focus.

A young woman in a teal room kneeling in prayer asana posture.

Secondary Routines That May Be Good for Mental Health

Physical Activity Routines

Physical activity benefits the body and the mind. Research has concluded that exercise can improve cognitive function, reduce stress, and help reduce negative feelings.

You don’t have to make it a point to spend an hour at the gym every day. Even spending ten minutes a day taking a walk or stretching could have positive effects on your daily mental health routine.

If you have a difficult time finding motivation to exercise or participate in physical activities you could make plans with a friend that includes a little body movement.

Physical group activities that may be fun and motivating might include:

  • Amateur sports leagues (like kickball, soccer, sand volleyball, etc.)

  • Hiking

  • Bike riding

  • Yoga

  • Fun fitness classes (like Zumba or spin)

Your physical activity routine doesn’t have to be drastic, or boring. Be aware of your limits, build on to what you can do, and commit to a schedule.

Leisure and Social Activity Routines

We are social creatures, but we sometimes forget that small talk next to the water cooler is not enough “social activity” to satisfy our need for connection.

The CDC concludes that routine social interaction is necessary for mental and physical health. Social connectedness also helps people make better decisions and helps improve feelings of sadness, anxiousness, loneliness, etc.

Methods you could implement in your daily routine might be:

  • Reach out to one friend or family member a day

  • Make plans at least once a week

  • Join a club or organization that meets frequently

  • Volunteer

Work or Study Routines

A work-life balance may be necessary to build a routine that prioritizes mental health.

By creating a work or study routine you may be able to begin each work day or study session with a productive mindset. Creating a routine also might help you enhance your performance and reduce stress.

Tips you may want to consider when creating a work or study routine include:

  • Be organized to optimize your workspace and preparation

  • Unplug at a set time

  • Stick to a schedule when it comes to breaks

  • Create to-do lists and prioritize tasks

  • At the end of each day, prepare for the next.

4 Tips for Implementing a Daily Routine for Good Mental Health

#1: Plan Routines With a Focus on the Bigger Picture

The point of a routine is to allow you to have more time and less stress.

If you fill your routine with things you might think are compulsory for good mental and physical health—you might end up not having enough time and overwhelming yourself even more.

Your routine should let you commit to habits that benefit your physical and mental health, without suffocating all of your time and energy. Be realistic and prioritize practices that benefit your mental health, build discipline, and bring you joy.

#2: Start Small

Slowly build your routine.

You may likely be more successful by ‘tricking’ yourself into building small habits rather than completely disrupting your life with a strict and unfamiliar regimen.

You could start by implementing a good morning routine for mental health. Start your day at a specific time and do one perfunctory primary task (like showering) and one beneficial secondary task (like stretching or meditating). Do this most mornings and you have successfully developed a routine with just two small things.

#3: Track Your Progress

Keep a journal or planner to keep track of your success, as well as any changes you may need to make to your routine.

Tracking your progress may help keep you motivated and inspire you to add new habits that positively contribute to your routine. Documenting your successes and failures may also give you insight into what does and doesn’t work for your mental health routine.

#4: Reward Yourself for Sticking to Your Routine

Rewarding yourself can help keep you motivated to stick to your routine.

So set your goals, and when you triumph over them—have a treat, buy that handbag, go to dinner, etc. Just remember that you need to moderate and follow the path back to your routine once you’ve luxuriated a little.

A woman sitting on a white coach listening to something with headphones and writing in a journal or notebook.

Kalm Drops From Good Bitters: When You Need Relaxation and Focus To Stick With a New Routine

Often we may fall into cycles and routines that feed into our overindulgent nature. Routines that prioritize our holistic health may help snap us back to where we thrive the most: inside ourselves.

Sometimes a little bitterness can balance out overly decadent sweetness, and help us draw ourselves inward to truly appreciate life.

At Good Bitters, we have taken the calming but bitter effects of Silk Tassel and concentrated it into a tiny seemingly sweet treat. We aim to help others find balance in holistic health by building practices and routines that calm and focus the mind.

Find peace in the bitterness of the balance of life. Learn more about how you can use Kalm Drops to help relax and recenter yourself so that you can build a good mental health routine.

The content in this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition

Disclaimer: The information on this website is taken from traditional wisdom and modern research/databases and is for educational purposes only. It is not intended to act as medical advice or to replace medical treatment. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. The statements and information on this website have not been evaluated by the FDA. Please consult a knowledgeable healthcare provider for your individual needs.

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