Art by Autumn Hardwick
Ever since I was little, I have loved going back to school. When most people my age would dread the start of the new semester, I was overly excited. I have never quite known why until recently — I just simply love getting back into a routine.
While I do love summer, I typically have a lack of routine in summer. I jump from one thing to the next, without much structure to my life. I wouldn’t trade the experiences I have had over summer for anything, but by the end of August, I do crave a schedule.
I like knowing what each day holds, knowing who I am going to see and knowing what tasks I need to get done.
While days throughout the school year vary, there is an overall structure I follow. I wake up, walk straight to my coffee maker, brew a cup of hot black coffee, typically read my Bible and take a little time to center my day before the hectic busy-ness begins.
Then, I move on to getting ready — always with the TODAY Show playing in the background. I started this routine during quarantine, and I don’t know if I will ever go back.
My nighttime routine is still slacking, but I do have high hopes for that one this year. I’d like to be one of those people who puts their phone away and reads at night, but unfortunately that has not become a consistent habit quite yet. It’s OK to have goals for your routines.
I have a few weekly routines built into the schedule as well. Once a week, my friend and I will go to the ocean and take a swim — in and out, and then we leave. Every Tuesday morning, another friend and I will explore Malibu simply to get NewsWaves video footage, but it has turned into one of our favorite mornings of the week and one we always look forward to.
My routines ground me, keep my days organized and give me something to get excited for. Even if I know a stressful day is ahead, if I have a good morning routine, I know I will have a good morning.
I like the thought of planning out my week, knowing what each day holds and what commitments I will do — regardless of how my mood is. I like having activities and tasks to plan for and get excited for every day.
To no surprise, routines are actually good for your health, too. They help you manage stress levels, use your time more effectively and help you stay disciplined to meet your goals, according to Northwestern Medicine.
Some people may say to live spontaneously — live your life without a plan and learn to appreciate the go-with-the-flow — and I don’t disagree with that. As an enneagram seven, I love a spontaneous adventure, but only if I’ve already started the day with my morning routine.
Sometimes routines don’t always go as planned. I might wake up late and not have time for my morning coffee, or be so tired at night that I fall asleep before even considering following a nighttime routine to wind down. I’ve realized these things happen, but I know I don’t feel nearly as centered and grounded when they do.
Back-to-school season always gives me an opportunity to make new routines, as well. Routines are bound to change when I have new classes and new commitments to take on, but I am excited to see what new routines I start to create in those few hours to spare between classes or in the evenings when I have free time.
Routines matter — not just for me but for anyone who wants to live a productive, balanced and stress-free life. Routines can help center and ground your life, and you haven’t tried crafting up a new routine recently, I’d give it a try.
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