As I’m about to embark on a new chapter of my professional journey, with it comes re-establishing a more structured routine. Over the past year, I’ve been working from home and I’ve been largely in control of my own schedule. It was a welcome breath of fresh air after the 4:50am alarm clocks during my surgery rotations and the waking up and going to bed late studying cycle of PA school. I truthfully haven’t been as diligent about meal prepping because I’ve been home to make meals and prepare snacks. I’ve been exercising, moving, and walking at my leisure and without much diligent structure. It’s been, honestly, wonderful. And a sigh of relief after a very grueling past 5 years.
But now I’m very ready to head back into medicine, and with that a more structured routine. Taking what I’ve learned over the years, here are a few tips and tricks I stick to in order to ease that transition.
- Aim to wake up and go to sleep at the same times every night. This reinforces our circadian rhythm, which controls everything from digestion to immunity.
- Block out times for phone and social media. This ensures productivity when you need it most, rather than finding yourself in a TikTok vortex of dance and dog videos for hours.
- Buy an alarm clock! I aim to put my phone down at least an hour before bed and to leave my phone out of my bedroom when I sleep. The most surefire way to disrupt a sleep cycle is with too much screen time before bed.
- Eat a breakfast packed with nutrients, protein, fats, and complex carbohydrates to stabilize blood sugar. Aim for your first meal containing a variety of nutrients, colors, food groups, and macronutrients, particularly vegetables, well-sourced protein, and healthy fats.
- Avoid too much caffeine and stay hydrated. When excited about a new routine, it may seem tempting to guzzle coffee throughout the morning. This can lead to feelings of jitteriness and anxiety in some (definitely for me). I stick to just one cup in the morning and then switch on over to H20 for the rest of the day.
- Eat balanced meals at the same times each day. Metabolic processes also follow a circadian rhythm — including appetite, digestion, and the rate your body processes macronutrients.
- Find times for movement, and schedule it before the week begins. I like to call friends and see if they’ll do it with me to keep motivation steady, especially when exercising from home.
- Fuel up with nutrient dense snacks. My absolute favorite snacks to grab and go right now are ZENB Veggie Bites. They’re a vegetable-based snack whose mission is to take more parts of vegetables, including those you may not eat like the stems, skin, seeds, and form them into absolutely delectable bar that’s a good source of fiber. They are non-GMO and free from gluten, artificial flavors, colors, and preservatives. They keep me full, satiated and energized during long days. I’ve been loving making my own variety packs and choosing my favorite flavors! Sweet potato + mango + cinnamon and edamame + mango + spinach are always on rotation for me!
- Take breaks when you’re able. Even just five minutes of breathing, stretching, and re-centering can help re-focus an entire day.
- Go easy on yourself! Building a routine takes practice and stamina, and it’s very likely you’ll have to do some tailoring and re-shifting along the way.
- Don’t over-do the to-do list. Take things slow and reserve time for yourself in order to prevent burnout. Sometimes I like to put “floss teeth” on the to-do list just for that oh so satisfying floss cross off.
- Have things to look forward to during the week or weekend. I have a tendency to get completely absorbed in work and can sometimes be a little all or nothing in behaviors. I make it a point to have things planned during the week or weekend in order to remind myself to re-immerse myself with friends and my local community.
- Have your favorite smells on hand. When that 2 pm slump comes, keep some peppermint or citrus essential oil on hand. They’re delightfully awakening and can help boost mood and motivation when you’re feeling low, rather than reaching for that third cup of coffee.
- Have a wind down routine when you’ve finished your day. I like to do a few restorative yoga poses as the bridge between my work day and heading to sleep. Check out a few of my favorites here.
- Get your meal prep on! As tedious as it can be, this is the most effective way to save yourself some time during the week. I like to prep just a few meals on weekends, and then have easy one-pan meals on deck for during the week to prevent meal burn-out. Find my top meal prep tips here.
While it’s not a perfect system, sticking to one, some, or all of these tips helps ease me back into a more structured routine. What about you?
Thank you ZENB for sponsoring this post. It was crafted while snacking on some edamame veggie bites, my absolute favorite flavor! It’s an honor to work with companies whose ingredients and mission I truly admire.