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Creating healthy habits: routine

12 April 2021

While it can be tempting to dismiss routines as boring, they can actually be a great tool to help you stay focused, productive and positive. Find out how to create your own routine and help look after your mental health and wellbeing.

A mug of coffee with the word begin on the mug, on top of a table

Routines

You might think that a routine isn't something you need as a student, but actually a routine can be a useful tool for anyone. During remote learning and exam season, there are fewer things that shape our days, especially during a pandemic. Previously, your time might have been marked out by having lectures, meeting up with friends, doing assignments, working and many other things. But when some of those things are no longer possible, or are done online, it is important to develop a routine for yourself to organise your time and divide up your day. You might even become more productive!  

A routine can not only help you become more productive, but also support good mental health. Having an outline of how your day and week look can help you focus on the things you need to achieve – and enjoy well-deserved, and important, relaxation at the end of the day and week. Having a routine also means that you are more likely stick to the task you are doing at that moment, instead of allowing different things to blend into one. 

Create a routine that works for you 

To create your routine, first think about your natural sleep pattern. Lots of research points to the benefits of waking up and going to bed early. A consistent sleeping pattern is a great first step to having a good routine, a productive working week and more restful time off. 

If you’re an early bird, great! If you’re not, don’t feel guilty about it – and don’t force yourself to fit to a certain sleeping pattern if it doesn’t work for you. If your waking/sleeping hours are pretty late but you would like to change this, try moving your bedtime gradually towards an earlier time.  

Read more about how to develop healthy sleeping habits.

Create structure

After thinking about sleep, consider how to structure your day of study, revision and/or work. You might want to start working out which tasks are a fixed time in the week, such as lectures, seminars or even sports and fitness sessions. Then, have a think about at what point of the day you are most productive, and group your tasks into the best time of day for you to accomplish them. Be ambitious yet realistic for your study schedule. 

Try to take regular breaks throughout the day. You could also make use of the time to make a healthy lunch or snack and even pop out for a walk. This will help to ensure you have plenty of energy for a busy afternoon of studying or working – and ultimately, be able to enjoy your evening with some relaxing activities, knowing you had a productive day.  

Make sure you have a point in the afternoon or evening when you will stop studying for the day, and make time for yourself. Whatever activities you like to do to unwind, make sure to make time for them so you get a good balance between study, work and relaxation. If you're struggling to study, Zoi from Student Psychological and Counselling Services has put together a great list of 10 ways to generate study motivation

Finally, try to physically change where you do each activity so that you can mentally separate work and play – so if you study at your desk, consider catching up with a friend on a walk, or read or watch a film in a living room or on your bed. To help you, we've put together our tips for setting up your home as a study space. 

Create healthy habits  

It’s important during these difficult times to look after your mental and physical health, and having a routine may well help with this. Try your best to eat healthily with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, drink lots of water, get some form of physical exercise in each day and get those 8 hours of sleep. Creating healthy habits like these will set you up well for success, in whichever way you define it.  

And remember – if it doesn’t work for you, move things around to find a pattern that does. It might take a bit of time to figure out what works best for you, and that’s okay. Don’t feel guilty if things feel hard at the moment: you’re trying to complete your studies during a pandemic!  

If you are struggling, Student Support and Wellbeing are always here to help: find out how we can support you. If you're looking for support in exam season, check out our exam success guide