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How Our Routine Affects Our Mood

Routine. This is one word that most of us dislike because perhaps we had been exposed to too tight a routine in school or perhaps because routine for some of us means boredom. However, some level of routine is essential for us to maintain stability in our emotions and overall mental well-being.

We know instinctively that when our mood is low that we lose motivation and that we end up doing less. This results in increased boredom, lack of sense of achievement and connection with others, which in turn drives our mood further down. The converse is also true. When our moods are elevated, we might end up doing a lot more than our usual. This may make us feel productive and happy initially. However, pushing through this higher-than-usual activity level can result in burnout, which then throws our mood into a downward cycle. This is called a boom-bust cycle. 

So, to protect the stability of our mood, it is important to maintain a semi-fixed level of activity and not be swayed by how high or low we happen to feel at any one time. Maintain consistent sleep, eating times, exercise and medication intake (if required) without succumbing to low mood-do less, high mood-do more would ensure that the hormonal levels and our biological clocks are not thrown out of sync.

Routine is important. But, it is important to make the routine a loose routine, which allows for flexibility and changes in circumstances. One easy way is to introduce gaps in your timetable and refrain from packing your routine activities back-to-back. Another way is to constantly evaluate if the activities in your timetable are essential or just superfluous add-ons. Removing those would free up time for you to be spontaneous and have some fun. 

In summary, maintained a loose and flexible routine without succumbing to the whims of our mood states would help to stabilize our mood and prevent big highs and big lows.

Annabelle Young | CFHP
Annabelle Young

Clinical Psychologist Annabelle Young has extensive experience in working with people with depression, anxiety (including panic), adjustment difficulties, stress, trauma, PTSD, bipolar disorder, low self-esteem, grief and loss, interpersonal difficulties, as well as alcohol and drug use issues.

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