If you feel there are not enough hours in the day to get everything done, it often helps to reassess your routine to find a healthier balance in your daily life.
“One of the major benefits of establishing a routine is that it helps manage stress more effectively, as you have budgeted time for all necessary areas of your life,” says Angela Morisse, an occupational therapist practising at Netcare Akeso Milnerton.
Occupational therapists are part of the multidisciplinary team of healthcare professionals practising at Netcare Akeso mental health facilities. Occupational therapy involves assessing how a person functions in their environment and helping to equip clients with the practical tools and skills to adapt and perform at their best in all spheres of life.
“A routine needs to be consistent to build habits that are aligned with our goals. A healthy routine helps to reduce procrastination, because we know we need to do certain tasks. Using our time effectively as part of a set routine means we are more likely to succeed in our goals.
“Once we have a set routine, such as exercising on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons, these behaviours become habits. Even if we don’t necessarily feel motivated about going for a run initially, once we are in the habit it no longer requires the same level of motivation,” she says.
People may turn to unhealthy habits for stress relief, such as overeating and using alcohol or drugs, however eating healthily, sleeping well, and maintaining a balanced lifestyle can help us manage daily stress better, reducing the need for negative coping mechanisms.
As a starting point, Morisse recommends writing down how your time is currently divided. “What is the first thing you do when you wake up? Perhaps your routine is to reach for your phone and spend an hour on social media. It might be worth considering how that time could be better used to set you up for the day,” she says.
When setting a routine, make sure that it is sustainable and supports a balanced lifestyle. Set time aside for your priorities, either marking them on a daily planner, calendar or online tool, and put a reminder on your phone if necessary, to help you keep to your routine.
“Start with the non-negotiables: We need seven to nine hours of good quality sleep at the same time every night, as this refreshes us for the next day and helps us to manage our emotions. Our bodies need fuel, and this means eating healthily with the nutrients we need to be alert and energised. Set time aside for preparing home meals rather than relying on takeaways or convenience food, which are often less healthy. Plan ahead and cook in bulk to save time later by freezing portions.
“Exercise protects our bodies against diseases and releases endorphins that naturally make us feel good. It is also a great distraction from things that are overwhelming. Find an exercise you enjoy and an exercise buddy.
“A large part of forming a healthy lifestyle is maintaining the momentum of your routine. If you miss one day of exercise that’s okay, but don’t miss a second day or there’s a real risk of falling out of the habit. Through establishing a healthy routine, we can give our bodies the best chance to benefit from other therapies, and very soon the benefits become evident. “We can help clients to work out what they find difficult about sticking to a balanced routine, and troubleshoot these obstacles. For instance, if you find you’re tempted to buy fast food on your way home, rather pack a healthier snack to tide you over when the afternoon craving hits,” Morisse says.
Set aside time for enjoyable activities that will help us to be more present in the moment. “Whether it is time spent on a creative project or something sensory like a walk on the beach, dedicate time to doing things you find energising.
“Spend quality time with your partner, family and friends because this helps us to replenish our energy. It is so important to take care of yourself so that you are able to fulfil your responsibilities; the alternative is to risk burnout and exhaustion,” she concludes.
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Notes to editor
Looking for a medical appointment? Netcare appointmed™ will make appointments for YOU with specialists practising at Netcare hospitals, GPs and dentists at Medicross medical and dental centres, and specialists at Akeso mental health facilities. Simply request an appointment online at www.netcare.co.za/Request-a-medical-appointment or phone Netcare appointmed™ on 0860 555 565, Mondays to Fridays between 08:00 and 17:00.
To find out more about the services offered through Netcare hospitals and other of the Group’s facilities, please visit www.netcare.co.za or contact the Netcare customer service centre either by email at [email protected] or phone 0860 NETCARE (0860 638 2273). Note that the centre operates Mondays to Fridays from 08:00 to 16:00.
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