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The Power of Routines for Supporting Mental Health

Times of transition are a fact of life and never more so than recently. So many of us have been moving back and forth from home to work or school, and back again, existing in a continually shifting world. Times of transition naturally create stress and anxiety, as our minds try to anticipate the future and we worry about the unknown.

One way to help ourselves during these times of upheaval and not knowing what lies ahead, is to create simple and grounding routines. Routines enable us to have a sense of familiarity, consistency, and stability in the midst of change. They can be a helpful anchor, and what’s more, they are entirely within our power to create and maintain, no matter the circumstances.

The power of routines lies in their ability to help our brains relax, because we know what to expect and when. When we have a routine around an activity, we are saved from having to make decisions and use up precious brain-power during an already stressful time. Routines give our brains a break. So for example, having a morning routine of a few elements (waking, showering, breakfast, and packing your bag), done in the same order every day, gives us one less thing to have to think or worry about and instead replaces it with something we can comfortably connect to.

Think about the repetitive things you do in the course of a day or week and consider ways that you might create routines around them to help yourself create calm. For example, instead of waiting until you’re starving to eat, commit to having regular meal times. Or rather than deciding each night when to turn the tv off, establish a regular bedtime. Having regular times of exercise, socialization, time for chores, errands, or relaxation are all things that can benefit from routine.

The next time you find yourself in transition, feeling anxious or unsure, remember the power of routines to help you find calm.


Amanda Jacobson, LMHC, Amanda is a licensed therapist in clinical practice since 2013. She has experience working in both inpatient and outpatient settings, with group and individual therapy, and she has a passion for working with people recovering from addictions, as well as codependency, depression, anxiety, trauma, relationship challenges, and major life transitions. She earned her master’s degree from Boston University.

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