To Reduce Stress, I Always Follow This Weekly Routine
To Reduce Stress, I Always Follow This Weekly Routine
I am a perfectionist and I get stressed out easily. In order to avoid major meltdowns, I stick to a weekly routine, which allows for spontaneity and fun. Here’s the routine I stick to every week—I hope it will help you, too!
11:00am-1:00pm: I try to sleep in as late as I can, until maybe 9:00am. Then, I’ve been trying to make it a habit to go to church every Sunday. When I add Church as part of my routine, I hold myself accountable.
1:00-6:00pm: I leave this slot open for whatever—lunch, an event, a Sunday stroll. If my events on Sunday last beyond 6:00pm, that’s okay. Hopefully, I’ll have known about the event in advance and will prepare my weekly lunches the day before.
6:00pm: I spend an hour making dinner and preparing lunches, coffee, and thinking about outfits for the upcoming week. While dinner is in the oven (or on the grill), I ration five to ten days of lunches for husband and myself. I always include a protein, vegetable, and fruit. Chicken, carrots and broccoli, and tangerines are my winter go-to meal. Hummus adds a lot of flavor to the veggies, and can be very filling. It’s an easy, healthy supplement to your vegetables. I separate my meals using Sistema BPA-free plastic containers (I would love to switch to glass one day, but I hate to throw away containers that are still working well).
As soon as I come home from work, I immediately empty my lunch bag. I rinse out every container and if I can reuse them without really scrubbing them—like the containers that hold carrots—I’ll dry them and put them back in my cabinet. The rest go to the dishwasher. I rinse out my thermos and leave it on the sink’s drying rack for tomorrow. I rinse out my water bottle and let it air out on the drying rack as well. Then, I set up my coffee maker for the next morning: add 4 cups of water, 4 tablespoons of coffee grounds, and it’s ready to go for tomorrow morning.
I check my email and social media, and try not to spend too much time getting swept away by all of the world’s issues. Then, I make myself a cup of tea (non caffeinated after 6pm) and sit down to write either a blog entry or a journal entry. Mondays are a good day to write—few distractions, zero events.
Every few weeks, there’s some sort of an event on a weeknight—a friend’s concert, a sibling’s dance recital, a work event, a play, or a dinner. As long as I make sure to get in a half an hour of preparation for the next day (lunches, coffee, and tidying) and I make sure to go to sleep by 10pm, I don’t feel stressed out.
Thursday evenings I set aside to clean. This way, I don’t have to spend a coveted weekend day cleaning. If my Thursday evening is eventful, I will clean on Wednesday instead.
Because I ensure that I put everything back to where it belongs daily, any time there is a mess I clean it up immediately, and I don’t allow dishes to pile up in the sink, but instead put them directly into the dishwasher, I don’t have to clean up a huge mess on Thursday nights. It’s really just maintenance. And it doesn’t take me longer than an hour. However, laundry spans about four hours, and I make sure to finish laundry by 10pm.
Every season, I’ll take on bigger cleaning projects: washing the windows, washing the floors, vacuuming the vents. As long as I maintain that every three months, those projects still don’t take longer than half a day.
After work on Fridays, I grocery shop. Every once and a while, I might spontaneously join in on happy hour… but I’ve always preferred to get my work done first so that later I can relax. I’ve realized that Fridays are perfect days to grocery shop: not many people are in the store and the supermarket (at least the one I go to) restocks all of its items on Fridays. Everything is fresh and available.
I come home, put away my groceries, and open a bottle of wine. Ahh… now I can relax. I love staying in on Fridays, having a glass or two of wine, watching a movie with my husband, or writing by myself, and then falling asleep before 11pm. Call me Grandma, but I look forward to that every week. Of course, that doesn’t happen every week; sometimes I begrudgingly attend events on Friday nights.
Sleep has always been a top priority for me. My mother says that when I was little, I would beg her to put me to sleep. I was the easiest child when it came to bedtime and naps. In high school, when my friends were dead tired in school, I always wondered why they would stay up until 1am on a weeknight; I’d be in bed by 9:30pm. I had to take two buses and a train to get to school and had to wake up by 6am every day. I absolutely had to get in 8 hours of sleep, otherwise I wouldn’t be able to function. I still need 8-9 hours of sleep, and I am so afraid of the day I have a newborn (however, I’m sure my unconditional love for my child will make up for it). I wake up at 5:45am for work as a teacher, and it’s such a physically and emotionally draining job, so it is imperative I sleep 8 hours a night. My usual bedtime is 9:30pm, but sometimes I fall asleep before then. If I can, I will be in bed by 9pm.
We don’t own a TV (*everyone freaks out*). But we do watch movies and TV shows on our laptops. The only hour of TV I watch every week—but still, sometimes not even then—is Fixer Upper, because Joanna Gaines is my idol. We don’t miss having a TV (my husband grew up without one anyway), and the only time it matters is for the Super Bowl, and we’re not football fans. Besides, our friends throw better Super Bowl parties than we do.
Here’s the thing that I need to add to my routine. What’s wrong with me? Why can’t I exercise? I spent my entire childhood, teenage years, and early 20’s as a dancer. I danced for hours and hours every week. Adding a work out to my weekly routine is a work-in-progress. I’ll keep you updated on this one. Maybe you have some tips you could share with me?