It’s a mystery to me how we can so easily fall into habits and routines that are so bad for us. The habits that feel good like sleeping in, binge-watching an entire series of Schitt’s Creek on Netflix (ALL the love for Schitt's Creek!), or drinking too much coffee to get through the day. Why is it so difficult to get in routines of waking at the same time every single day of the week (yes, including weekends!), to take the supplements that will benefit our bodies, and to create schedules that are realistic and beneficial to our goals and lifestyle?
Whatever bad habits we’ve found comfort in, it’s not too late to create better ones. In fact, whether you are a midlife, perimenopause, menopause, SAHM, home-schooling, career, or retired woman, it’s safe to say better habits are worth the time it takes to create. For those of us in perimenopause, dealing with the absolutely unpredictable nature of the very bodies and minds we inhabit, routines can save our sanity.
During perimenopause, our bodies don’t have a 28-day calendar. We can’t predict when those mood swings are going to be most prevalent. We can’t look at a calendar and know which days are best to go on that beach vacation. We never even know when we’re going do an about face in the grocery store to avoid talking to an acquaintance because we’re currently having a hot flash and we gained another 6 pounds overnight and we just can’t deal with looking another human in the eye and pretending like there isn’t a searing flame forcing it’s way through our torso.
I’m (slowly) learning that routines can save the day and I believe the biggest reason is that a daily routine is the one thing I can control, to an extent. When everything about my body is whacky beyond comprehension, I can at least find comfort in the daily habits that I can develop to give me some peace of mind knowing that I can create certain aspects of my day that I can rely on.
Be encouraged that routines don’t have to look like a 5am workout, a 6am mindfulness moment followed by a pinterest-worthy breakfast, and arriving at the office by 7am. Routines are anything you want them to be, but whatever they are, create them. Right now, I’m loving my routine of being up by 7:30 enjoying a cup of coffee with my bible in front of me while I search for a bit of scripture I can stay mindful of throughout the day. However, I want to add 30 minutes of daily exercise so I’m working at determining the best time of day for me to add that in. Whatever routines we want to change, let’s do things one at a time. Adding a new routine of exercise, healthy eating, eliminating coffee and sugar, and meal prepping all at once is a recipe for failure. Sure, we’d all love to do those things (minus eliminating coffee) and we can be successful at it if we are realistic about our capabilities and our mindset.
Mastering one new habit at a time in our routines gives us a little taste of success and confidence that we can be successful at the next one. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing. It just has to be small and consistent steps forward. Remember that part of the goal of incorporating new routines is to help create something reliable and consistent in your life, and it should be something that makes you feel good, not another thing that you beat yourself up over. We’re navigating a lot of unknowns, a lot of issues that quite simply can bring us down and keep us there if we’re not careful. Commit to yourself to start one new routine and decide how frequent it will be. Routines can be daily, weekly, monthly, 2 times per week…whatever you decide is realistic and beneficial for you. Once you’ve developed a solid commitment you can always add to the frequency to build up to daily routines.
Action Item: Think of one thing you’ve had on your mind that you’ve wanted to start doing consistently. Write it down. Now write down how much time it requires, how often, and what time of day. Finally, look at your schedule and determine one day this week that will realistically work for you to do that thing. Commit to it, do it, and then decide if it’s something you want to continue committing to. If it is, add it to your calendar for the days and times that work for you to continue it. Journal it for a month to document your thoughts and feelings on creating a new routine.