How important is routine anyway?
A recent study showed watching the same film over again had a comforting and soothing effect on the brain. In a world where we have so much choice that it can feel overwhelming; perhaps our brain and body seem to prefer to know what is going to happen next!
How does this relate to our health and wellbeing?
When it comes to making changes to support healthier eating; one of the first steps many people choose to take, is to bring some routine to their mealtimes. A meal routine means eating meals or snacks at your chosen times each day. Evidence supports this approach and although there is no “ideal” number of meals or snacks to be eating, we do know that choosing a meal routine and sticking to it can support weight loss, level out hunger pangs and reduce cravings.
We also know that including smaller portions of wholegrain starchy carbohydrates at main mealtimes, supports a more gradual rise in blood glucose levels as well as providing essential nutrients and fibre. Following a meal routine will support you in managing portions as well as provide the opportunity to get all the nourishment your body needs for health.
When starting to become more active for health; many people turn to walking as it’s typically easy to get started and great for the mind and body. It’s tempting to think that you need to go out and do a super long walk to get the benefit, however a long walk can take lots of planning and in some cases lots of recovery time. The evidence suggests that forming a routine of short stints of movement is just as good – 10 minutes of walking is enough to receive the health benefits and this can slip easily into your daily routine. 10 minutes may feel more manageable and so we may be more likely to repeat regularly!
There is a mounting evidence base to support the role of good quality sleep to help maintain our physical and mental health; it is therefore concerning to note that approximately 2/3 of UK adults struggle to get enough of it! A bedtime routine can be one helpful habit; taking steps to prepare the mind and body for sleep may be just the thing to send you off for a restful night.
What happens when something gets in the way of my routine?
One of the key elements to our programmes is supporting you to choose and develop healthier habits; these are changes that with time and practice become the norm for you. We know that life can sometimes upset our routines; with holidays, weekends, festivals and many other things calling for you to do things differently. Here’s some top tips from our clinical team to help:
- Plan ahead; think about the times in your year where you may want to deviate from your routine
- Ask yourself; is this ok? Chances are it may only be a few days or weeks…changing things for this short time is unlikely to negatively affect your health journey and in fact allowing that freedom and enjoyment is likely to be fantastic for your mood and motivation
- Planning ahead is your friend; you may be able to tweak your usual health routines to suit what’s going on e.g. gym closed over Christmas? Plan in a family walk
- Finally, remember self-kindness; we can’t always plan for everything, if we find ourselves off routine one day, we can warmly acknowledge ‘that’s life’ and get back to it the next day.
We would love to hear from you! What new routines have you formed on your health journey? What has helped you stay on track? What’s included in your bedtime routine?