Keeping Life-Giving Routines

One of the ways I recommend finding resilience during stressful situations is through routines. For example, when I experience a difficult shift at work (either I have lost a patient, it was too busy and stressful, or someone was rude) I launch into a specific routine to help me process and find my way back to my baseline. I head home, listening to music which helps me process (Country music is always a go to during these moments). I don’t talk to anyone when I get home and jump into the shower. I stay there until I have processed what I need to either to be kind to others or to be able to sleep without having ugly dreams.

We have to process our stress. We have to find a conclusion or resolution. Sometimes we have to grieve the conclusion. Sometimes we need extra love for ourselves to forgive or to adjust to a new normal. A routine helps us keep moving forward in the midst of the stress. If we have set routines we can calm our minds and our bodies so we can actually do the work stress requires of us.

When I am stressed out, anxious or overwhelmed, a routine helps me become more centered. I go for a walk, or sit and remember what it going well with my life. I make a point to check-in with someone else so I can get out of my own head. Sometimes I just need to brew a cup of coffee or do 30 minutes of yoga. Slowing down a bit with a set routine gives my mind and my tightly held body a break in the midst of the stress.

When it is hard to get out of bed some mornings (much like today) it’s usually because I feel overwhelmed by my “todo” list in my head or the difficult conversation I need to have. I can be stressed even before I get out of bed. It’s these days when I put one foot in front of the other and do the next needed thing. Resource: I’m digging into this concept of the “next right thing” by listening to “The Next Right Thing” podcast with Emily P. Freeman. She has a book out too, so I’ll be grabbing that on my kindle as soon as I can.

A morning routine can be hugely beneficial for creating space to return to my baseline. Routines can help our brains relax and find the normal about life. A routine can help similarly when we go through stress. I know when stress hits or a difficult shift ends I have a routine to go to first. I don’t have to wonder what to do depending on how I feel. I do the same routine every time. When I don’t follow my routine, when I choose to ignore it, I inevitably have bad dreams, a bad attitude and it takes me longer to normalize my thoughts and my body. Stress can happen longer than one routine does, so returning to similar routines over the length of the stress can also be helpful.

Pause to think about your own routines. Do you need to have them ready in your back pocket as your go-tos during stress? Are your routines vital and beneficial or are they harmful for your mental health? A routine which includes a bottle of wine instead of just a glass or numbing out on social media repeatedly may not be the routines you want to have. A routine which is life-giving and is kind to you and others can bring you back to your baseline rather than hiding the stress instead of working through it. We have to be able to process the stress all the way through and routines create that space for us to do this.

My wish for you this week is to enjoy one or more life-giving routines to help create space to process and grow. I’m headed to brew some coffee and journal as one of my daily routines.


Published by Stephanie Trowbridge

Follower of Jesus. Artist. Wife. Mother.

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