Routines & Schedules: Why Something That Sounds Boring is Powerful.
We were thrown a pretty big collective curve ball recently, and I know I’m still adjusting. My normal weekly routine of teaching large yoga classes, going to school, counseling clients in person, and visiting with friends and family pretty much flipped sideways overnight. Everything in my day planner essentially turned into confetti. All of a sudden, a Tuesday and a Saturday look remarkably similar. Rather than panicking, I turned to a technique I’ve been refining for years—CREATE STRUCTURE.
The antidote to uncertainty is stability. Routines provide stability. Where days that are random, unorganized, and fragmented can exacerbate distress, days that are thoughtful, planned, and cohesive can amplify peace. A messy schedule effects the mind in the same way a messy room effects the mind. Messiness inherently breeds anxiety. Where unorganized chaos feels unsettling and unkind, organized thoughtfulness feels comforting and kind.
According to, change increases Vata Dosha. Vata is the energy of space and air. Too much Vata is like a windstorm. Everything is scattered everywhere. (I think many people are experiencing this right now.) When Vata is high people are prone to experiencing anxiety, insomnia, indigestion, low back pain, and constipation. Creating stability through routines is the paramount way to balance Vata energy, thereby helping to manage such symptoms. In the mental health profession, there is an approach called Solution Based Therapy that aims to remedy mental distress by uncovering a solution that can be immediately applied to a pressing problem. For many of us, a surge of mental distress is stemming from a change in routine and worry about the unknown. From a mental health counseling perspective, a potential solution would be to establish a routine that provides regularity during a time of otherwise abnormality.
Routines and schedule do not need to be rigid. Rather, the function of a routine/schedule is to provide a template in which a person can harness a freedom to engage mindfully. In the following section, I will provide suggestions based on your individual level of attraction or resistance to the concept of routine. Level One is suitable for the person who resists routines. These are baby steps. Level Two is perfect for someone who appreciates some structure, and Level Three is for the person who celebrates structure and wants a defined plan. All three levels are purely for the sake of providing examples of viable options. There is no one size fits all perfect outline. Nothing is set in stone. Please don’t get so wrapped up in the details that you miss the big picture. We are reminded that the aim here is to establish a model of a daily routine/schedule that serves as a template for normalcy and balance.
Level One (for someone who wants baby steps) Choose two of the following and aim to complete your two choices sometime between waking up and going to sleep each day.
- At some point in the day, sit down for a warm, nourishing meal. Aim to eat without the distraction of the television, computer, or phone.
- Unplug from technology 30 minutes before bed to give your mind time to power down.
- Download the Insight Timer App, and at some point before you go to bed complete a meditation of your choosing.
- Sit outside with your bare feet in the ground for 1-5 minutes.
- Close your eyes and take three deep breaths.
Level Two (for someone who appreciates structure) Follow the following as a template. Feel free to redesign the structure to suite your needs.
- AM: Wake up around the same time each day.
- Establish a morning routine that incorporates some type of movement (walk, yoga, Peloton, jumping jacks in your pajamas—do your thing)
- Morning- work/study/structured productivity
- NOON (ish) – eat a nourishing lunch
- Afternoon- template time for working, studying, or creating (art, music, playtime with kids ect.)
- Late Afternoon- meditation
- Evening- Eat dinner
- Night- Drink Golden Milk or Chamomile Tea to unwind
- Night- relax, hangout with family
- PM- complete any final emails or social media communications and unplug
- PM- aim to go to sleep around the same time each night
Level Three (a defined plan for someone who celebrates structure)
- AM- wake up at the same time each day
- Exercise of choice.
- am-Noon- work/study
- Noon- eat a warm nourishing lunch
- 12:20-4:00pm – work/study/create
- 4:00pm- Meditate (can use Insight Timer Guided Meditation App)
- 4:30-6:00pm work/study/work-out
- 6:30pm- Dinner
- 7:00-9:00pm- relax, unwind.
- 9:00pm- Drink Golden Milk, give yourself a almond oil massage, take a hot shower, or Epsom salt bath.
- 10:00pm- unplug from technology, read, meditate, prepare for sleep
- 10:30pm- sleeping
I share this because while what we’re going through right now is temporary, the ability to adapt and adopt new strategies for coping has made a difference in my own life. I hope these tools will be of some value to you as well. If you would like counsel and guidance on how to create a new schedule, or navigate this new territory from an Ayurvedic/Mental Health perspective I am here for you.
By Kristen Scheider, Ayurvedic Practitioner, Writer, and Yoga Instructor
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Thank you. Sending you and yours tremendous love.
Kristen Schneider teaches Power Yoga and Flow 2 and shares her wisdom with our students at Bella Prana Yoga & Meditation, Tampa, FL. Voted Best of the Bay and offering over 95 classes a week.