Many patients ask me how I’ve overcome my chronic illnesses. This is a simple question, and one of the simple answers is my nightly routine. It’s a habit I have created that has truly helped my mental and physical health, all while putting me in the best position for success with the adversity I face almost every day.
First I just want to say that like you, it’s hard to follow a routine. Life is never easy with a chronic illness and we never know when it will strike. The important thing is to try and do our best to set ourselves up to make the turtle steps I have talked about before. These small and slow steps towards a goal is what we are all looking for.
So why is a nightly routine so important?
Let me go back a number of years first and then I will take you through my nightly routine, which is not for everyone, but the great part about life is you can make your own.
Years ago I was in survival mode. Waking up every day without a plan, just trying to manage my many illnesses to make it through another day till I could get back into bed and try to sleep. This was no way to live with zero quality of life. My physical health was horrible and getting out of bed was difficult. My mental health was at a low point and I wasn’t sure how I could break this cycle. I’d wake up whenever I wanted to every day and had no idea what was ahead. Whether it be health related or something I wanted to do, there was ZERO planning.
Then, after a major surgery I was given a glimpse of a light. An opportunity to maybe, just maybe make things better. This could be my chance. So I started to read every book I could about productivity, organization, and how to reach any size goal. As I was reading, I realized something almost every successful person had in their life, a nightly routine to launch them into the following day. And many habits successful people have can be adapted to our very own circumstances with a chronic illness.
Now while I know my mind and body can’t keep up with the likes of Mark Cuban, Richard Branson, Oprah Winfrey and others. I thought I could take some of the practices these extremely successful people have put into their lives, and adapt them to my own. This was a GAME CHANGER .
Some of the biggest parts of my nightly routine help me in so many ways!
- Writing down a plan for the following day give me purpose when I wake up
- Allows me to have structure and end the day with an accomplishment
- Puts me in a position for more success no matter what my goal may be
- Makes my body and mind feel better since I go to sleep with a clear head
These are just a few of the many reasons a nightly routine has changed my life. So what is my nightly routine? You can find it below. As you read it, remember you can adapt this in anyway you’d like or create your own from scratch. There isn’t one nightly routine that works for everyone, just find one that works for you.
- 8:15 – Get off the couch and make a protein shake for later to hydrate and get calories in me while I sleep (Gaining and keeping weight on is very difficult for me.)
- 8:20 – Take some melatonin and Imodium (I have trouble sleeping and live with an ostomy, so getting to a relaxing state and slowing things down before bed is important.)
- 8:25 – Stretch key areas of my body and use my Theragun (Your body repairs itself during sleep. This allows me to get my blood flowing and relaxes key muscle groups before bed.)
- 8:45 – Snack on a bowl of cereal and drink my protein shake ( While my muscles are open and relaxed, I get some protein in them so they repair and grow for the following day.)
- 9:15 – Take my dog Aspen for her nightly walk (During this time I reflect back on the day or listen to a podcast that I want to start or finish.)
- 9:30 – Open up my productivity journal from Chronically Better You (This allows me to reflect back on the day more with lessons I learned and what I’m grateful for, plus organize the following day and tasks I would like to accomplish.)
- 10:00 – Read or watch a little TV to shut my brain off (I’m a member of Blinkist which I really like. It allows me to get the main ideas from non-fiction books in 15 minutes. I obviously also read regular books, but TV is an easy option as well.)
- 10:30 – Meditate with my Centr app (I became a member of Chris Hemsworth’s new fitness app which includes great resources for all areas of a healthy lifestyle, including meditation. This slowly puts me into a better mindset for sleep.)
Now that is a lot. Overall it takes about 2 hours, but other than the stretching and walking the dog, anyone can do these things from the comfort of their couch or bed. I can promise you that in the long run, you’ll sleep better with a clearer mind, and wake up with more purpose since you created your own roadmap to success, no matter what challenges your illness throws your way. There are many days I don’t get everything done, but even if I get a fraction of them done, I am moving in the right direction via turtle steps.