How are you spending your time? . . . the importance of routine in mental well-being

Dr Chido Rwafa-Madzvamutse

Mental Health

As discussed in previous articles, mental health is defined as a state of well-being in which an individual realises his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a meaningful contribution to their community. 

Routine and consistency can help to maintain mental well-being. Having structure and organisation to how we spend our time can help us be more productive and effective and less stressed and overwhelmed. 

How are you spending your time?

 How many hours are you spending doing truly productive work? How do you track your productivity? 

 How much time are you spending sleeping on average? 

 If you spend approximately 8 hours working and 8 hours sleeping, how are you spending the remaining 8 hours each day?

 Do you struggle to account for your time each day? 

 What are your troublesome time wasters . . . excessive phone usage, social media scrolling, excessive watching of TV? 

 What are your key priorities for how you spend your time each day? 

 Try auditing how you spent your time over the last week. How much time is unaccountable? How much time is idle? How much time could be better used? 

Mental health benefits of routine

Being more accountable for our time and having more routine in life can help improve our mental health through:

 Giving our days structure and order

 Reducing unpredictability and uncertainty. 

 Allowing us to incorporate healthy routines into our lives. 

 Reducing procrastination and time wasting. 

 Improving our ability to focus and attention. 

 Improving our ability to manage our goals and objectives. 

How can I build better routine into my life for better mental wellbeing?

 Plan for each day, each week, each month, each year. Audit how you have been spending your time and take time to plan. 

 Be realistic about what is possible in 24 hours and set achievable goals for your routines. 

Prioritise important activities and be deliberate about making time for what is truly important

 Be flexible in case of unexpected events and be willing to restrategise

 Acknowledge time spent on primary activities essential for life such as sleeping, eating and hygiene

 Make time for family, friends and social interactions. A routine shared family meal has been found to have significant mental health benefits for children and young people.

 Eliminate time wasters

 Make time for productive, effective work. Break up large tasks into small manageable goals and create ways to monitor your actual productivity

 Make time for personal development goals and growth

 Be accountable to a trusted friend for the changes you are trying to make

If you think that you or someone that you know may be struggling with a mental health problem, please contact your nearest health care provider and get help.

l Dr Chido Rwafa-Madzvamutse, Consultant Psychiatrist. This article was written for the Association of Healthcare Funders of Zimbabwe (AHFoZ). For Feedback: Dr. Chido Rwafa Madzvamutse Whatsapp+263714987729. www.ahfoz.org ; [email protected]

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