Have you actually forgotten what day it is recently? You’re definitely not alone because all the days kind of seem the same. It feels like we’re in our own version of “Groundhog Day” and that’s not really helping our anxiety and stress levels. Psychiatrist and neuroscientist Dr. Tara Swart says the monotony feels so draining because it’s actually taxing our brains. “Our brains need an optimal level of stimulation and variety to learn, grow and stay flexible,” she explains. “A lack of variety in daily routine can cause stress to the brain.”
Lucky for us, it’s easy to break the “Groundhog Day” cycle by making an effort to switch up our daily routines – both mentally and physically. These are some suggestions for doing that:
- Take a walk outside and go a different route every day – Keeping up our physical activity is good for our bodies and minds, and so is the fresh air and sunlight we get from walking outside. Plus, walking for just 30 minutes a day can strengthen your bones, improve cardiovascular function and boost your mood.
- Let the light in – Bringing natural light inside will help reset any wonky sleep patterns, so let that morning sunshine in. And at night, dim the lights while you watch a show or meditate to unwind and try not to bring your phone to bed with you so it doesn’t keep you from getting that good night’s sleep you need.
- Establish boundaries – Create structure where you can on weekdays, like having set meal times, and change the routine up on weekends. Set boundaries around when you work, exercise, sleep, spend time with family, and practice self-care.
- Switch up your downtime schedule – Alternate activities you need to do and those you enjoy doing, like doing chores, house projects and watching Netflix one day and exercise, errands, and crafts the next.
- Practice kindness – Calling to check up on loved ones regularly and finding ways to ease the burden for others will show you care and will help you feel better, too.
- Get industrious – Distracting yourself with side-hustles, hobbies and home projects can stimulate your brain and improve mental health, so use your extra time wisely.