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Week 9- Routines, How to re-establish your routine after it has gone off the rails


We’ve all had it happen, but we don’t always recognize it until we have a meltdown or we feel so out of sorts we can’t stand it one second more. I’m talking about what happens when our routines are messed up by a change in our life. I have recently been dealing with this issue and it crept up on me over a 4 week period. My regular routine was completely off the rails and I didn’t realize it until I was so miserable the other day that I stopped and put the pieces together to see what was going on. It was my routine and it had been interrupted and was making me feel awful. Has this ever happened to you? Today, I am going to share 4 tips that I have learned to help me get back on track and re-establish my routine and to put checks in place so that I can catch it earlier next time and not reach a point of misery after weeks of quiet discord.

We’ve talked about how our brain can default to routines and habits that are subconscious and can be hurting us versus helping us and that is why being intentional with the routines we create for ourselves is so important. I want to share 4 tips I have learned that help me create and re-establish routines that are helpful and serve me as well as how to put checkpoints in place to ensure that I don’t get too far out of my routine.

Why routines are so important to us as autistics:

Routines give us a sense of stability.
Routines cut down on decision fatigue
Routines save time-and that makes the brain happy
Beware the Pitfalls of Routine:
Be intentional about which routines you create so that they are serving you to create a better quality life all around.
Be observant of the routines you currently have in place and evaluate if they are helping you or hurting you.
Be sure to incorporate activities into your routine that allow areas of growth like an hour a day for reading or 30 minutes a day meditating.

Step One:

Decide which portion of the day you wish to focus on first and begin there.
Morning, afternoon or night?
I am most affected by how my day starts, like most, so this is where I began to evaluate and re-establish my morning routine.
Get a Morning Routine Planning Guide HERE.

Step Two:


Evaluate what you have been doing so far in the morning and ask if it has been helping you get things done with less stress and decision making involved or if it is making your life easier by doing it.
Basically, establish your “why” for choosing to do something each morning.
Step Three:
Create a list of tasks that you need or have to do each morning. Brush your teeth, fix your hair, getting dressed for the day, etc.
Then create a list of things that are essential to how your morning sets the tone and productive stage for the rest of your day. You may need 30 minutes each morning to read or journal. I strongly suggest starting a 20 minute workout first thing as the science behind exercising for just 20 minutes each morning shows that the stress hormone cortisol, which is highest in the morning, drops and the feel good endorphins like dopamine are released through exercise and this helps you not only feel happier each morning but it also helps give you better mental clarity.
Step Four:
Structure your routine and map it out based on the list of things you need to do and things that you want to incorporate to create a better morning and better day. Arrange the items into an order that work best for you. Estimate how much time each activity requires or needs and use that as a guide to planning what time is best for you to wake up and accomplish your routine each morning without feeling rushed.

ADDING in Checkpoints:

Make some notes of how you feel and how your morning or day goes when your routine is working well for you. It can be that you have more energy in the afternoon around 2 pm because you didn’t have to make a bunch of decisions early in your day. It could be that you clear your email in box in 10 minutes twice a day vs. getting stuck checking email for 2 hours down a rabbit hole late in the afternoon.
Make notes about how you feel and how your day goes when your routine has been disrupted in some way. Build in a time each week for reflection to be mindful of your routine, how it’s going, if something needs to be adjusted, added or removed. This only takes a few minutes but will save you loads of time and upset in the long run.

FINAL STEP:

Try it out. A routine is best established by taking your time to see what is working and what can be adjusted, added or eliminated so that you refine your routine until it consistently serves you well. Remember that life is always changing and there are some things that we do not have control over, but with a routine in place and the knowledge that we can adjust, add or eliminate aspects of that routine as we need to we allow ourselves the control and freedom to grow and adapt in a way that makes us comfortable and that helps us.



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