As I’ve grown older and been given the time and many reasons to self-reflect on who I am, I find that routine is a very critical component of how I feel, day to day. This became more apparent as a stay-at-home mom. Weekends are now the days I feel the worst, mental health wise, and it’s due to the break in my normal schedule. Now having a child much like myself, I see a mirroring image of these tendencies in him.
My 3 1/2 year old son and I have a weekly schedule that keeps us healthy, both physically and mentally. We go to the YMCA to exercise, play, and interact with others. We both look forward to it and stick to mostly the same habits each time. We have worked on not getting too attached to the small details, like always having to take the stairs in the car ramp (my son was stuck on this for awhile), but the main ingredients stay the same (where we park, how we enter, and our inner Y routine). I stay very regimented with my exercise methods; the basics that is. We stick to the same days, but the time alters a bit. My son always does the same activity first when he gets there but is open to new games, toys, and friends as time procedes.
I used to view my aversion to change and my attachment to routine as weaknesses. Then I saw a television program about the Nun Study and something occurred to me; these women were healthy and stuck to mostly the same routine each day. Most of it consisted of healthy habits too!
The main findings, according to the above article for the Nun Study, found the following habits to be most critical in reducing the symptoms of Alzheimer’s: the amount of education a person has had, regularly playing games that stimulate the brain, eating right, staying in touch and having daily contact with others, and the occurrence of the disease in someone’s family history which allows a person to assess their risk and make changes; ASAP! This is a wonderful guideline for living as healthy a life as possible. It really is a basis and even if, by chance, a disease does take hold in your body, being healthier just increases the chance you’ll beat it or reduce its affects and will have already broken bad, unhealthy habits.
I want to document this time in my life. Children grow so fast and it is hard to believe my daughter was doing this with me 7 years ago. It just doesn’t seem possible that those years are gone! She was much more resistant and had a difficult time separating from me. I would warn her hours ahead of time that we were planning to go to the Y, and she would still get upset when I dropped her off at the daycare. We worked through it, and she never had difficulty like that when she started school or anytime after. My son, on the other hand, is always raring to go. Hopefully this will continue!
Here are some photos I took yesterday to help me journal my health habits:
One thing is for sure; both times I’ve done this routine of exercise, personal interactions, healthy eating, and spending time helping my children explore their worlds while preparing them for the next journey, school, I have felt at my best–emotionally, physically, and mentally!
Routine does matter! It can motivate us, keep our brains sharp, bring consistency, repetition, and if made up of healthy, balanced, habits, be the key to overall wellness.
Have a healthy and happy day=)