Managing new routines can be tricky. Actually, believe it or not, they can be trickier than managing already steady routines. I mention this because the word “routine” has come up a lot lately. So many fall off the wagon as the seasons change and it leaves them feeling scared and out of whack. The sun goes down sooner, the weather gets colder and more unpredictable. As a result, it seems more difficult for us to get moving and motivated. How do we maintain our healthy routines when the seasons throw us for a loop?
Well, that’s the thing, my friend. Just like the seasons need changing, so do routines.
It takes a certain kind of strength to maintain a healthy wellness regimen when you have so many external factors coming into play. I know it’s scary, but I’m here to tell you that it’s okay to change it up. Routines need to adapt to change just like you do. Instead of seeing this as a setback, see it as an opportunity for improvement. Don’t use the cold as an excuse to stay inside and slack off. This is a chance for you to make a conscious decision to keep going despite the circumstances. You must set a precedent and truly force yourself to adjust and make do. You can do just that by learning to modify your time bit by bit so that you don’t get lost in a lull.
So, assess your day to day routine. What can be rearranged? How can it be adjusted? What do you need to do to get there? A careful assessment of your daily routine will give you perspective and allow you to make changes as needed.
Here are a few ways that I’ve adjusted my routine over the past few weeks. Taking these steps has helped me to adjust to the change around me and not get caught in couch potato land:
- Wake up earlier
Once Daylight Savings Time hits and you fall back an hour, it feels like you get caught in a tailspin. It sounds dramatic, but it’s true for many of us. Especially those whose free time is only found beyond 5PM. Sure, it’s easy to just go home and curl up after it’s already been dark for an hour or more.
With less daylight post-work, I was getting home at 5:30PM to darkness and a very confused puppy. To counteract this discomfort, I made a conscious decision and effort to start waking up earlier. A typical day starts for me at 6:15AM. To make up for lost time at night, I forced myself to start my day sooner. I’m not much of a morning person so I knew this was something I would have to ease into. I started by setting my alarm clock 10 minutes earlier each day for a week until I reached a time where I woke up early enough and was comfortable doing so. 6:15AM then became 5:30AM and dang, do I feel better. I take my long walk with the pup in the morning now versus the night and, while chilly and still slightly dark, it’s much more motivating to have my routine rise with the sun than to set with it. With waking up earlier, I find myself more energized, refreshed, and relaxed – not having to rush to make it out the door by 7:30. I’ve set aside two full hours in the morning for me to do me. This change in my routine has made the biggest difference in my day to day level of happiness. It is one that I highly recommend if you’re one of those who feels like there is no longer enough time at night for you to accomplish all that you wish and want to. Reduce shock and overwhelm by easing into it and see where it takes you! Level of Difficulty: 10; Level of Effort Required: 10+; Guaranteed Level of Satisfaction: 10++
- Adjust outside time
I’m very much an outdoors person. Maybe it’s the Vermonter in me, but when I don’t get my daily dose of fresh air, I feel like I’m in a fog. This is why I’ve learned to make the most of my lunch time. Each day is an opportunity for me to use my precious hour to get outside and move around while it’s light out instead of later when it’s dark. I don’t go far but I go far enough that my body gets some sunlight and my muscles get some work. I’ve never been one to really mind the cold (again, probably the Vermonter in me) but, dressing for the changing weather is key. Go get a sweet new jacket and enjoy your outside time, despite the chilly temps and your local parks closing at sundown. Level of Difficulty: 10; Level of Effort Required: 10+; Guaranteed Level of Satisfaction: 10++
- Exercise earlier vs later
It’s hard enough coming home after work to then try and go back out again to the gym, let alone coming home to darkness and trying to make that happen. Maybe it’s time to adjust your exercise time? One thing’s for sure, there is no way you can go without exercise this time of year and feel like yourself. Once your body is at rest, even for a couple of days, you better believe it will stay at rest and you are not about to hibernate for the winter. This tactic can be coupled with my first tip – wake up earlier. Perhaps use that added time in the morning to hit the gym or bust out a few bedside exercises. If I’m feeling frisky in the morning, I will lift weights and do some mild cardio before I hop in the shower. 15 minutes does the trick for me. A few reps of light weight lifting, 25 crunches, 2 minute plank hold, 25 pushups, 25 mountain climbers, stretch. It can be as simple as that and, the best thing is, you can modify your morning and do whatever the heck you want to get yourself moving! Maybe just a long stretch or some yoga poses. Your morning is up to you. Now that the days are getting lighter earlier, you can feel more motivated and accomplished by getting your day kicked off earlier too. Remember, not all exercise has to be done in a gym. So, don’t feel bad if you can’t get there first thing in the morning or at night. Do what works best for you and your schedule, whether that’s developing your own small workouts here and there, taking the dog for a couple of long walks a day or parking across the lot when you go to get groceries. Go the extra mile, but keep moving forward. Level of Difficulty: 10; Level of Effort Required: 10+; Guaranteed Level of Satisfaction: 10++
- Get cozy but don’t get too cozy
Cold weather means a spike in the comforting coffees, soups and side dishes because…’tis the season for comfort and regret! Ugh. When that chill comes, it encourages you to indulge. You can stay healthy and enjoy your favorite meals, just don’t see the change in seasons as an opportunity to let your healthy eating habits decline like the temps. It’s ok to indulge (hello, cheat day!), but don’t over do it to the point that you’re eating to fill a void. You didn’t come this far to make excuses and become a bum. When you adjust your daily routine, your appetite is bound to change too. Make sure you’re prepared so you don’t end up going buck wild with the munchies. While those light summer dishes may no longer be on the menu, still take time to plan out your daily and weekly meals so you don’t end up scrounging for whatever is around or going out to eat all the time. For example, try out a warm breakfast, like an egg or toasted bagel with almond butter and jam versus a cold cereal or smoothie. And, once those holiday parties start kicking off, I find it best to eat a healthy meal at home beforehand so you don’t go in hungry and fill up on hors d’oeuvres. Level of Difficulty: 10; Level of Effort Required: 10+; Guaranteed Level of Satisfaction: 10++
As with any new routine, the best way to help it stick is to ease into it so you can fully commit at a natural pace. Before you know it, that old summer-time routine will be long gone and you’ll be aboard the happy train cruising through winter no matter what Mother Nature throws at you. Being in control means finding comfort and joy no matter the season. LIVE YOUR YOU and don’t let winter waste your time.
Did you make a recent change in your daily routine? Share with us in the comments! We know it was tough and we want to hear about it. Change is tough for us too!