There’s a big difference between being in a routine and being in a rut.
A few quotes about the power of a routine demonstrate how positive it can be for the person who follows it.
“The secret of your success is found in your daily routine.” or “What I do everyday matters more than what I do once in a while.”
Still not convinced about the purpose and power of routine?
There are at least 7 reasons everyone benefits from routine. Beyond this, some advantages are even more prescient for persons with Parkinson’s.
- If you keep a routine, you can decrease stress. You become conditioned to anticipate what comes next. Dealing with change as we age can be more difficult so anything we can put into place helps us roll with the punches life pulls. One of those punches being a chronic disease like Parkinson’s.
If you know your most low energy time of the day begins at 2 pm, you can make sure to routinely schedule exercise and visits with friends earlier in the day.
- Routines help you regulate your nervous system – especially your sleep/wake cycle. If you habitually prepare yourself by limiting screens and loud noises you can ease into sleep and get a better night’s rest. While not everyone with Parkinson’s deals with sleep problems, changes in brain chemicals may affect your circadian rhythms.
- Routines help free our brains to focus on more complex tasks and tasks you really want to get done. When you’re in a routine, you’re running on autopilot and your brain is better able to focus on more complex tasks, according to Samantha Dutton, PhD, a licensed clinical social worker and associate dean and social work program director at the University of Phoenix.
Every minute in your day counts and if you keep a routine where you block out chunks of time to do one task, rather than responding to everything that comes your way, you’re better prepared to complete that task. For instance, if you want to catch up with phone calls “sometime this week” other tasks will creep in and these calls will get pushed to the next week and so on.
- Routines can help you better manage depression. Having Parkinson’s is no picnic and there is a documented connection between your diagnosis and depression. It may be related to the emotional challenges from living with Parkinson’s or as a result of chemical changes in the brain. Regardless, depression can cause you to retreat from your life. One of the best ways to reintroduce yourself is establishing a routine and practicing good habits. If done consistently, your habits become your routine and you’ll be an active participant in your life.
- Routines can bring calm and peace. It’s as simple as “focus on what you can control” When you are in charge of your daily schedule, you’re not on anyone else’s timetable. Your brain anticipates when your regular exercise class begins each Tuesday at 9:00 am. Even before class concludes, you are already feeling the sense of impending accomplishment and your post workout routine of a healthy snack and shower.
- Routines are also for scheduling what you want to do AND what you need to do. If it feels like drudgery, then it’s not a routine. A routine includes time for tasks that energize you as well as those that drain your energy. It’s about making enough time in your schedule to accomplish both. If you don’t schedule in what you want to do, you might not have enough time or energy for those tasks that light you up.
- Routines encourage healthier choices – especially important re: diet and exercise for people with Parkinson’s. Think about it. If you fail to plan, you’ll plan to fail. If you don’t plan out what you’ll eat, you’ll eat whatever is available, despite the lack of nutrition it provides. If you set out your clothes and appropriate shoes to go for a walk the night before, you’re more likely to go outside and not build in a reason why you can’t go. One easy way to ensure healthy meal planning is to use an app like Emeals or a meal delivery service like Blue Apron and choose the Mediterranean or low sugar meals.
Coffee and Connect
- In person at CenterStage Starz the 2nd and 4th Wednesdays at 10:30 am
- Virtually the 1st Wednesday of the month at 4:30 pm
Last Friday of every month, 10:30 am MST. Join here
Movement and Exercise
Check our class schedule to sign up for Spin for Parkinsons, Fit Boxing, Yoga for All, Pilates/Barre for PD, Tai Chi, Dance for PD. Fit Boxing and Yoga are offered in person and online.