If there’s one thing chronic illness doesn’t care about, it’s your routines. It doesn’t matter if you always get up at six, or if you always go to the gym before work. It doesn’t matter if you usually do your chores on a Tuesday or Thursday after work, of if your do your accounts on a Saturday morning. Routines simply don’t work when your body doesn’t behave as it should.
Routines are rigid, they don’t allow for mistakes or compromises. I always loved the idea of routines, of being someone who had their shit together so much that these things were planned out and easy. The problem is, you miss one part of a routine, skip once, fall out of step for a day, it’s so easy to give up, and it can be hard to get back into it again.
And breaking a routine can be disheartening. Whether you’ve decided to start getting up earlier and going for a run before work, if you’re in a daily gym routine, a healthy eating routine, or just a schedule of getting stuff done, breaking a routine can bring with it a sense of failure. Routines can feel stifling, monotonous, they don’t invite change or movement with them, rather monotony.
So for me, discovering the idea of rhythm over routine was game changing. Rhythms are more fluid, they allow for change and flow, they fit better with my life as it stands. Rhythms fit more flexibly into everyday life, and I think even if you’re not struggling with chronic illness that could be true.
It’s worth noting that yes, I have a very flexible work situation, but even if you don’t you can make rhythms work for you in areas of your life. Just because you need to be at work nine to five, doesn’t mean you can’t have flexibility outside.
So, how I’m making rhythms work for me.
- Drink a pint of water first thing in the morning.
- Not looking at my phone til I feel fully awake.
- Mindful eating at home.
- Read a chapter of a book.
- Write down anything stressing me out in my journal.
- Take my vitamins and supplements.
- Step outside for fresh air.
- Wipe down all the sides in the kitchen and bathroom.
- Stop and breathe in a focused way, with a guided meditation, the Breathe feature on my watch, or using a yoga/therapy breathing technique.
- A ten minute tidy before relaxing for the evening, anything in the flat that needs to be put away is sorted.
- Visit the pool for a gentle swim.
- 2x sessions on my yoga mat, no matter how short or simple.
- 2x walks, outside in the forest or on the beach.
- Sit down for a significant uninterrupted writing session at least once.
- Time spent with my family.
- Date night.
And that’s really it. I try to find space in my week for each of these things, but if something falls through the cracks, it’s never the end of the world. It feels like a more, intentional, mindful way of looking at my week, and when I’m planning my schedule for the day I’m taking all of this into account.