7 Ways 'Back To School' Can Help You Create a Better Routine

By The Fix staff 09/15/21

September is a great time to evaluate what’s working well in your life — and what’s not.

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Woman holding piece of paper or letter sits at desks, looks to the side.
Think about what you let slip from your routine, and what you would like to reincorporate.

January may be the time for New Year’s resolutions, but for many people September presents another opportunity for a fresh start. Kids return to school, the chaotic summer schedules quiet down, and many people transition into their fall and winter routines. That makes September a perfect time to check in on your routines, evaluate what’s working and what’s not, and make the changes you need to live your healthiest life.

Here’s how to get started.

  1. Check in with yourself

Before you make any big changes, take some time to check in with yourself. Journaling can be helpful, but you can also just take yourself on a walk or find another way to have an internal conversation, uninterrupted. Ask yourself what feels good in your life right now? What changes are just screaming to be made? Use these as directions to evaluate what you should do next.

  1. Make a list

After you’ve taken some time to think about what you’d like to keep and change in your life, get out your pen and paper and make a list. The staff at Sunshine Coast Health Centre, a non 12-step drug and alcohol rehabilitation center in British Columbia, recommend making three lists to evaluate different areas of your life. First, start with a list of things you’re grateful for. Next, list your preferred activities, or the ways that you enjoy spending time. This can guide you in deciding how to prioritize and schedule your time. Finally, list the resources that are available to you if needed.

  1. Update your routine

Summer can be a tough time to keep on schedule. The free and easy living is nice, but can become overwhelming after a while. Think about what you let slip from your routine, and what you would like to reincorporate. This is especially important as society begins opening up again. You might have the opportunity to volunteer, participate in alumni programs or take in-person classes for the first time in more than a year. Look back on your list of preferred activities and determine how you can incorporate more of those into your days.

  1. Get organized.

Cooler weather means that most people will be spending more time inside during the coming months. To keep yourself happy and healthy, you should start with a clean slate in the house. Removing unnecessary clutter can help you keep a clear head, and knowing that all of your belongings have a physical space where they belong can help you stay organized. If you feel overwhelmed, start with one room at a time, donating things you no longer use and finding systems that work for the things you have left.

  1. Reach out for help.

Think back to that last list you made: the resources that are available to you. These might be community programs, alumni supports or people you have close relationships with. Now, think about the areas in your life where you could use a bit of extra support. How can you use your resources to build your strengths in those areas? Maybe you’re looking to get more physical activity, and could recruit a friend to be your gym or walking buddy. Perhaps you can utilize a free community credit resources to help get your finances back in order. Remember: we all need support sometimes, and reaching out for help is a strength, not a weakness.

  1. Set a sleep routine.

What’s the key to good mental, physical and emotional health? For many people, it’s getting a solid night’s sleep. Tweek your routine so that you get the recommended 8 hours of shut-eye. If you are a parent, try to get the kids in bed earlier so that you can have some time to yourself, but still get to bed at a recent hour. If you have trouble sleeping, remember to shut down the screens and turn to an old-fashioned book or bath in the hour before bed.

  1. Decide to say no.

Sometimes, what you say no to is just as important as the things you decide to do. Especially after a year at home, there’s a temptation to take every opportunity, but that can leave you overstimulated and overtired. Instead of diving back into everything all at once, choose a few meaningful (or preferred) activities to focus on. Set boundaries on things that stress you out, whether it’s joining the PTA or helping with carpooling. Remember, your time is one of your most valuable resources, and you get to decide how to spend it.

It’s not a new year, but it is a new start in many areas of North America. At this junction you can decide what you want your fall and winter to be like, and what you would like to leave behind.

Sunshine Coast Health Centre is a non 12-step drug and alcohol rehabilitation center in British Columbia. Learn more here.

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