I am a freedom loving person and don’t like to get bogged down with routines. However, when I first retired my life was in chaos as my old work routines had disappeared, and I found myself stagnant and directionless. I was wasting a lot of time, money and resources.
It wasn’t until I started getting some kind of routine that I started to feel in control and relaxed. Routine has been shown to improve mental health, reduce stress and reduce anxiety. Having a routine also made space in my brain to concentrate on other things that I wanted to think about, rather than constantly having to organise my home and my life. Things became a habit and so I did them automatically. The house got sorted, the garden looked after, and I had time for me. People tell me I am organised, but really I just have routines.
It was important in the beginning that I put a good routine in place, though, and one that suited my priorities, but at the same time allowed me the flexibility and the freedom I desired. There was no point in me putting in loads of activities and chores in it as I would feel overwhelmed. I have therefore learned to limit social engagements to a couple a week and tasks to a couple a day. I have also learned to say “no” and set boundaries when I am starting to feel overwhelmed. Some people in my life have found this hard to accept as I used to put other people’s needs above my own.
When I first made my routine I thought about the things that were important to me like self care, time in nature and walking (to help my legs) and made sure they were regularly in my schedule. Time with family every week was also in there, and writing which gives me a purpose and helps me process my thoughts. I also leave space and emptiness in my schedule as life throws curve balls, like my daughter needing help with my grandson or an unexpected domestic emergency. I don’t worry about not having time for things then.
I do some things everyday like write to my group first thing in the morning, get the food out of the freezer the night before, stick with a regular time to go to bed, discuss with Mr S the plan for the day over breakfast, water the crops first thing, make my bed, tidy up before bed, etc. Other things are weekly and flexible and we will fit them into the day when we make our plan in the morning. These will include foraging, shopping for bargains, collecting wood, and meal prep etc. Having that plan stops me being anxious and helps me feel calm and relaxed. If something unexpected happens it is ok as there is spare time and the plan is flexible.