It is a well known fact that people thrive with some degree of structure. Establishing some sort of rhythm or routine helps us feel safe, accomplished, and focused. There are individuals who adopt a lifestyle that is highly structured and when it is challenged, can feel lost or unproductive. Others might implement some structure, but maintain a strong desire to live spontaneously and embrace the unpredictability of life.
Think back to your childhood. Did your caregivers establish a routine that encouraged independence, but also provided security? Did others around you take care of themselves physically and emotionally and which inspired you to do the same? Or were you raised in an environment that was highly unpredictable or chaotic and unfortunately encouraged anxiety or uneasiness? If not, don’t fret, many of us regardless of how structured we were prior to 2020 have been incredibly challenged due to the unpredictability of the pandemic.
Regardless of whether or not you have your days completely mapped out or you are struggling to find your toothbrush in the morning, the 4 S’s (Sleep, Sugar, Sweat, and Silence) can be used as a guide to simplify the art of structuring yourself in a healthy, constructive way. Remember, it is not about rigidity, but understanding what you need to thrive, feel safe, and build confidence.
The Four S’s of Structure
Sleep is your ultimate reset and must be made a priority. Start by establishing a routine that does NOT include your device, sugar/caffeine, or intense/emotional conversations. You will begin to notice positive shifts in your patience, motivation, and mindset.
Unfortunately, sugar is everywhere. It is highly addictive and incredibly difficult for most to limit or omit from their lives. Be mindful and begin to identify your behavior patterns. When do you typically crave and consume foods or drinks with sugar? Protect your mornings and evenings and perhaps use these blocks of time as ‘no-sugar zones.’ What you put into your body and when, truly does impact your hormone levels, mood, and cognitive functioning.
Some type of movement every day is key. Changing up our blood flow and increasing our body temperature has amazing effects on your body and mind. You don’t necessarily have to break a sweat every day. Practicing yoga or participating in a step challenge can be just as effective. Your body is your sacred tool and on your team. Remember to nurture it daily!
Setting aside at least a few minutes everyday without distraction positively impacts our mental health and ability to be present in life. Whether you meditate, unplug from your device, or take a quiet walk, your level of self-awareness will increase. This alone time gives you an opportunity to reflect and connect with yourself which is so important and takes practice.
The past year or so has constantly reminded us of the fact that we ultimately do not have control over much. Our freedom lies in how we respond and how we attempt to care for ourselves. Focus on creating a structure and establishing boundaries that encourage hope and motivation, rather than stress and a sense of defeat.