As our children settle into the rhythm and routines of a new school year, they begin with fresh notebooks, new pens, empty lockers and clean desks.
The rest of us are adjusting to their new schedules for driving and mealtimes, but even if we aren’t students ourselves, the approaching fall beckons us to renew and reaffirm our daily routines.
We all fall into routines — repeated patterns of behaviour — that may not necessarily be the best for us. We might follow routine because it is easier or expedient. We may continue routines simply out of habit.
Many families call this “tradition” with generations of children carrying them on without question.
As parents of returning students — or as adults responsible only for ourselves, we can take this month to review and challenge our routine. Here are a few questions to get you started.
How are we eating?
Unhealthy eating is fed by habit; healthy eating takes planning.
When a doctor asks patients to count the number of times they bought prepared food in the past week, the answer can surprise everyone. We might take the drive-through and eat on the run because we’re in a rush or because we’re simply hungry.
How many of your meals are unplanned?
When we leave diet to chance, we usually spend more money and consume more calories, salt, fat and processed food. The bathroom scale and your bank balance can give you clues. You could simply attend to how you physically feel when eating well and when you don’t.
Watch out for those late dinners and high calorie snacks.
I tell my patients what I tell my kids: planning for the next day reduces the morning rush and bad choices.
Where do you waste your time?
Students and busy grownups often feel as if there’s not enough time in a day. We can’t add more hours to each day, but we can save time by not wasting it.
Over the course of a typical day and week, keep track of how you spend your time. How many minutes do you spend on a tablet, smart phone or computer?
Television used to be the number one timewaster with shopping (for the sake of shopping) a close second, but we have developed even more sophisticated distractions in the 21st century.
Most people are surprised how time slips away while we are answering e-mails, texting and spending time on Twitter and Facebook. I predict that social media will ultimately consume so much of our lives that we won’t have time to leave the house and actually meet other people.
If we put a hard daily cap on our time in front of any screen and in shopping malls, we’re sure to find time for what is more important and healthy for us.
You may even find time to exercise.
Where in your daily life can you fit in more physical activity?
We can walk and take the stairs when we can. Many of my patients park their vehicles or get off transit a distance from work so that they can have a good walk at the beginning and the end of each day. Others use the community gyms and pools close to home or work.
Depending on your neighbourhood, an after-dinner stroll or cycle is a nice way to spend an evening.
Take a cue from our kids, review your routines, reaffirm healthy habits and make a fresh start this season.
Dr. Davidicus Wong is a family physician. His column appears regularly in this paper. You can read more about achieving your positive potential for health at davidicuswong.wordpress.com.