Finding Clarity When You Don’t Have a Routine

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Most of us just feel better, more centered & grounded, when we have a routine of sorts.  When we just automatically do things without having to think too much about it, or make too many decisions.  Our bodies & minds actually thrive on the clarity it lends itself to.  Routines & schedules keep feelings of overwhelm, overload and anxiety from creeping in because we just automatically do things at a certain time every day or certain days of the week.

Like reaching for coffee 1st thing in the morning, brushing your teeth, or going to church on Sunday morning.  It’s well documented that a bedtime routine helps cue your body to prepare for sleep.  One reason why so many parents have a bedtime routine for their children.  

Losing That Sense of Clarity

I’ve practiced a pretty good daily routine that worked well for me, unless I was away from home or hosting others.  It required time by myself to read scripture, journal, work in my office as well as move my body.  It also required me to get to bed by 9pm so I could wake up by 5:30 – 6:00 am and glide through my to-do list the next day.  

A day or two here & there ‘off schedule’ wasn’t too bad to bounce back from.  

Over the last few months, I’ve spent almost as many days with family, either on the road or hosting them in our home as I’ve had without.  While I loved every moment with them, celebrating birthdays, funerals, or just visiting because it’s been way too long, I’ve now found myself out of routine and feeling scattered.  

I can’t seem to get back into a groove of writing blog posts or finding time to post on social media, much less journaling.  I’ve even found myself reaching for food to quell these scattered, overwhelmed feelings, requiring me to use Emotional Eating strategies I haven’t used in ages as I search for clarity and routine.  

With the holidays right around the corner and new opportunities to share the Pray. Eat. Move. message, I’ve also realized it’s not going to get any better – at least for a while. 

Can you relate?  

Being pulled in so many different directions.  All of them important responsibilities and things you value.  Time with your grandkids. Taking care of aging parents. Funerals. (I’ve had an aunt, an uncle and a cousin pass away in the last 8 weeks.) Doctor appointments.  Adult children moving. Volunteer board meetings. Holiday volunteer responsibilities.  Holiday parties, get-togethers and celebrations.  Not to mention work, cooking, laundry, sweeping the floors, time with your spouse. Etc, etc, etc.  

So how do you find clarity when no two days are the same?

I don’t have all the answers, but I do have some tips I use that tend to bring clarity, making me feel centered & grounded throughout my day.  

1. Non-negotiables

There are a few things I make sure I do every day.  It may not be the same time every day, even though I’d prefer it to be more of a routine, at least I make sure they happen.  

My non-negotiables are praying often, eating well & moving more.  OK, and sleep.  

I set myself up to connect with our Lord with daily devotion sent to my inbox.  Church is a priority, and I make sure I get there most Sundays & Wednesdays.  I also have an app on my phone that provides the daily mass readings and reflections.

Food plays a big role in how I feel in general.  If I don’t feel well, I don’t function well.  There’s a whole list of foods that make me feel less than great, so I choose not to eat them.  I also like my food to taste good.  Therefore I make time to cook to ensure I do eat what makes me feel well.

I learned a long time ago if I don’t move my body for 2 days in a row, I don’t sleep well.  So I make sure I move my body almost every day. It might be cleaning, moving boxes & furniture (adult children moving), yard or garden work, going for a walk between meetings & appointments or 15 minutes of qi gong or stretching before bed.  

And my last non-negotiable is sleep.  I budget at least 8 hours in my bed.  Most nights it’s 9 as it takes me time to actually fall asleep.  My body needs it.  When I don’t get enough sleep, I get headaches, feel brain-foggy and just don’t get anything productive done the next day.  So if I don’t get home until 10 pm from teaching a class, it’s close to 11 when I actually fall asleep, so I’ll set my alarm for 7.  It may mean my usual morning routine is disrupted, but sleep is more important. 

2.  Loose Schedule/To-do list

I take a look at my calendar and my overall to-do list as part of my nightly routine.  I put together a loose schedule making sure I schedule in time to pray, eat, move and allow for at least 8 hours in bed (usually 9 as it takes me a bit to fall asleep).  

This helps me get things out of my head so I’m not thinking about them, allowing me to fall asleep faster.  It also provides motivation to get started in the morning knowing I have a clear plan for the day.  

Having a ‘loose’ schedule/to-do list helps me stay flexible. It also helps me chunk up bigger tasks into smaller bits so I can keep moving forward on those bigger projects.

3. Keep it Clean

I don’t know about you, but I focus much better when my environment is clean.  I don’t mean sterile, but a clear desk, kitchen island and home in general makes it so much easier for me to focus on the task at hand.  

Too much clutter, dust, cobwebs (yes, living in 141 year-old farmhouse you get new cobwebs every day!) just overwhelms me.  Like little gnats, flies or mosquitoes flying around my head.  

Taking some time every week to keep my home clean is also a great way to move my body (sweeping, vacuuming, scrubbing floors & windows).  I’ve also learned to ask for help to keep things picked up, dusted, etc.  Yes, sometimes I feel like a broken record asking for the same things to be done over others usually comply.  

4. Gratitude

Gratitude is just one of those things that seems to fix just about everything.  I really am blessed.  Even with my routine turned upside down & on its ear, I do have the time to do what I want and need to do.  Including being totally present with my family when I spend time with them.  

Gratitude helps me recognize what I have accomplished and celebrate those successes.  Whether it’s a client moving forward with their goals, a woman empowered to change her habits because I shared how her body is designed to work or noticing God popping up to say “Hi!” as a bald eagle soars over our garden. (Yes-that really happened a couple weeks ago!). All are reasons to be thankful.  

The more I am thankful, the more I have to be thankful for.  Including this ability to let go of what I didn’t get done and move forward with realistic expectations.  I learned a long time ago beating myself up with self-criticism doesn’t get me very far when I’m trying to accomplish or move forward with something.  (Another topic for another day!)

Moving Forward

The more I embrace this ‘new normal’ of inconsistancy, the easier it is to settle into the fact that it’s OK no 2 days or weeks are the same.  The more I can ensure my non-negotiables are met by defining and scheduling them, the more centered & grounded I feel and the more I can actually get done. Allowing me to enjoy the journey.   

The holidays are just around the corner and there’s a lot of potential for interrupted schedules & routines.  With a bit of planning, you can make sure you get done what you want to get done & move forward on the things that mean the most to you.  

The same strategies don’t work for everyone, though.  These may or may not work for you.  What do you do to help find clarity when you’re feeling scattered or out of routine?  I’d love to learn more about it in the comments.  Your answers may be the spark of inspiration someone else needs right now.  

Maybe you’re feeling scattered, overwhelmed or frustrated with your attempts to pray often, eat well & move more lately & don’t want the holidays to really derail your efforts.  

Now that I’m not going to be traveling as much, I have more available time to hop on a video call with you to help you create a plan to reach your health and wellness goals that actually works for you.  Click on the link below to schedule a time to learn more about what coaching can do for you. 

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