DAILY ROUTINES and WHOLE HEALTH
Habits form our daily routines. The habit of getting up and getting started on the day’s activities is extremely important. A note from a physician consultant states, “Body ‘clocks’ don’t automatically stay at 24 hours, and need resetting. The most powerful setter of body clock is regularly getting up about the same time in the day and being physically active. Bright light helps also.”
If you stay in bed, you will miss many opportunities to feel better. Planning your next day before you retire at night is helpful if you have nothing that demands your attention or presence during the day. Pets help by making their noises, jumping on your bed or nipping your finger when they either need to go out or want breakfast. Young children also serve this purpose, but are a much greater responsibility and are potentially much more rewarding.
Going to bed early enough the previous night to sleep adequately also helps a great deal. If you feel tired or grumpy when you awaken, you may not have had enough sleep. Washing your face and hands and combing your hair help you “face the day.”
After thanking God for a new day of service, exercise and food should be your first thoughts. Depending on family demands, breakfast may be a quiet time to spend a few minutes alone with Holy Scripture and in prayer for the day. You can keep right on communicating with God throughout or between your days activities as we learned from Brother Lawrence in “Practicing the Presence of God”.
Coffee and cigarettes counteract each other and offer no nutrients. For some people, coffee serves as a mild stimulant, but it will not provide the energy you need for even minimal activities. Whole grain cereal with milk and fresh citrus fruit or juice is a good basis for starting the day. People whose jobs involve heavy physical labor will need more calories and protein.
Allowing yourself adequate time to accomplish your morning routine, including packing a nourishing lunch, before leaving for work helps reduce stress in your life.
Be careful about snacks as they can lead to unhealthful weight gain. Carbohydrates overwork the insulin system and opens the path to diabetes. When meals are more than four hours apart a snack that includes a little protein with a little carbohydrate, such as a few nuts, are helpful to provide the blood sugar needed for brain functioning. Water is better than coffee at your desk. A short walk around the room or up and down the halls helps revive tired body and mind.
Brushing your teeth after meals and before bedtime help keep us from overeating as well as from gum disease and tooth decay. Floss at least before bedtime.
For some people, depending on the urgency of leaving home for work, getting some exercise before breakfast, in fresh air if possible, helps them re-energize their physical and mental processes. Some will want to exercise during their lunch period or exercise on their way home after sitting all day in their job…perhaps a walk or jog in the park or a session at a gym to refresh both mind and body by increasing blood circulation and oxygen to all your tissues. Others have plenty of exercise in doing their regular work. People whose work is in their home also need to include a regular time for exercise.
People whose workplace demands that they swing frequently from day to evening and or night have an especially difficult time in establishing routines and consequently have a higher level of stress. Extra B vitamins will be helpful during the higher stress transition periods. Many prefer to work straight evening or night shifts rather than swing.
The modern tendency to have longer work hours, such as 12 hour days, is forgetting the wisdom gained from work studies in the 50ies that proved more mistakes occur when people work longer than 8 hours in a shift.
Most people need either a mental or written plan for the time of work at their paid job. Likewise, one needs a daily plan for the time before and after their paid job. Do you need to get groceries once a week? do you have the list with you? drop off clothing at the cleaners? drop off and pick up the children? take time with each one in the family or household personally?
Take a little time to transition from work to home and private life. In this time, one can let go of the work problems, or if necessary, call to leave a message regarding what was forgotten and/or needs to be added. In this time, one may anticipate the hours before bedtime and prepare mentally for the responsibilities one has to oneself and to those of the household. Some use the bus or train ride home to make this transition. Please do not text or telephone and drive. It is safer to do that at a rest stop than while driving.
If you don’t have a paid job, do you need to search the internet or newspapers for opportunities, write your resume, send applications, go to interviews? Regular exercise and meals are just as important while searching as they are while employed. Keep your basic daily plan in effect. It is much too easy to fall into depression. Keeping your activities as near the same as possible will help prevent both mental and physical illnesses.
If you are retired, how do you use your time? A plan of routine activities is necessary for your best health. Include time for intellectual stimulation, for volunteer activities that you feel are rewarding and worthwhile, for family, friends, social activities and your private time with God.
Leaving our time to the whim of the moment is much more likely to end in risky behaviors that are neither to our benefit nor those around us. Alcohol and street drugs easily lead to more problems rather than relieving problems. Keep up your healthy daily routines.
However, those who are especially tuned to God’s direction and guidance may find that the personal daily plan is interrupted by an urge or strong impression of something to do that was not expected. We’ll talk more about guidance in the next article.