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Even fewer Americans get enough fruit and vegetables each day, with just one in ten eating the recommended four to five cups of fruits and veggies per day. If you aren’t the sort of person who wakes up feeling motivated to hit the gym and eat broccoli (and really, who is?), a routine can help.
The key to a routine is that it doesn’t depend on motivation — you just do it out of habit. If you want to get healthy, make fitness and healthy eating part of your routine. For example, add a serving or two of fruit and vegetables to every meal, and when you get home from work, walk around the block a few times before you go in the door.
Helping You (and Your Child) Sleep
Another important benefit of routines is in their ability to help you get the sleep you need. If you struggle to get a full seven to eight hours of sleep each night, your pre-bed routine could be the culprit. If you spend the moments before bed reading stressful news articles, answering work emails, or watching action films, it’s no wonder it’s hard to relax and sleep.
For the best sleep, experts recommend turning off TVs, computers, tablets, and phones at least an hour before sleep, and developing your own soothing ritual. Whether you stretch, drink warm milk, read a soothing book, or listen to a calming podcast, find something that relaxes you and do it every night. Before long, your brain will recognize your bedtime ritual, and help you drift off faster and sleep more deeply.
Getting a good night’s sleep is even more important for your child. Studies show that starting in infancy, performing a bedtime ritual helps children fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer. Good bedtime rituals include a bath, brushing teeth, story time, and gentle cuddling or a massage. Studies show that such a consistent bedtime routine can help children (and their parents!) sleep better in as little as three days.
=> Tips for Creating Successful Routines
If you are ready to start crafting routines that work for you, here are some tips:
Identify and Tweak Your Existing Routines
The first step is to identify the routines you already have. Think about what you do when you wake up and go to sleep, how you make dinner, what you do when you get to the office, and so on. Are there portions of your day that are stressful, chaotic, or take far more time than they are worth? Those are the areas where you can make improvements.
For example, if you can never find your keys, make a routine of putting them in the same place every day. If making dinner takes too long because your kitchen is a disaster, start a routine of tidying up every evening before you turn on the TV. By making small tweaks like these, you’ll make a big difference in your day-to-day satisfaction.
Attach Change to Existing Routines
When you want to start a new habit, one of the most effective strategies is to attach the habit to something you already do habitually. For example, if you want to start flossing and you already brush your teeth each night, floss every day before you brush your teeth. If you want to start walking for 20 minutes each day and you already take the bus, start getting off one stop early and walk the rest of the way.
Tackle Change in Small Doses
If you want to improve your health, fitness, and professional prospects, learn a new language, make all of your own meals, and maybe a few other things besides, don’t do them all at once.
Make a list of everything you’d like to do and decide on the one or two things that are most important to you. Start there. Now, think of one or two small tweaks to your day that will get you closer to your goal. For example, if you want to get more organized, start by tidying for 10 minutes before you eat dessert each night. Once you have successfully made one change and stuck to it for a few weeks, add another change.
Choose the Motivation That Works for You
There are many strategies for motivating a change in routine. For example:
* Make an X on the calendar for every day you complete your routine, and try to maintain your streak
* Tell a friend about your goals, and ask them to check in regularly
* Compete with a friend, to see who can stick to a plan most effectively
* Create a sense of identity around your goal; that is, see yourself as “a person who eats healthily” rather than thinking, “I have to eat another salad today, ugh…”
The key to using these strategies successfully is to recognize which ones work for your personality, and which ones don’t. For example, some people love nothing more than ticking an item off a to-do list. For others, a well-laid-out to-do list makes them want to run screaming in the other direction. Some people are very motivated when someone else holds them accountable, while other people are motivated by doing things differently from other people.
When you are planning your new routine, be realistic about what motivates you, and plan your rewards accordingly.Other Details
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- Year Released/Circulated: 2021
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