How to Get Back Into a Routine—5 Steps to Reignite Your Healthiest Habits

Progress, not perfection.

By Kelly Krause

Around here, we talk a lot about building healthy routines, from morning rituals to fitness-related. Often, the focus is on how to take that first step and get started. But today we’re taking a different approach with something we an all relate to: how to get back into a routine when *insert whatever life event* inevitably happens.

This is why I’ve never really taken to the phrase “fell off the wagon.” It implies that you might’ve done something wrong and leaves very little room for riding the waves of life, shifting priorities, or simply needing to readjust what might not be working for you. 

In this instance, the routine I fell out of and eventually came back to in a different way was my daily morning walks. Every day for over 8 months, I hit at least 12,000 steps. So what happened? A lot of life—namely a new job that didn’t allow for 2 hours of trail time, plus a small health scare that caused some physical pain. My mornings started to look a bit different, and for better or worse, my priorities shifted.

Featured image from our interview with Sanetra Logno by Michelle Nash.

journaling, get back into a routine
Image by Michelle Nash

How to Get Back Into a Routine: 5 Tips to Reignite Your Rituals

If you’ve ever made a drastic shift in your routine, especially one that positively impacted your life, then this sentiment might resonate with you. I became a little bitter and resentful that I couldn’t do what my body and mind loved doing in the past. It impacted my mood and I could tell I felt a little more anxious because I wasn’t carving out as much time to tend to my body or mind. Thankfully, I didn’t sit in that feeling too long and developed a routine—a work in progress as I type this—that is bringing a lot of joy to my life. Here’s what I did to get back to it. 

Control What You Can

I didn’t have access to the amount of time I had in the past, unless I was willing to sacrifice sleep (spoiler: I wasn’t). So I controlled what I could, which varies every single day, and decided to make the most of it. Walking 12-15k steps a day was a rule I made up, and I could easily shift that into something that would still make me feel good. On the bright side, I was getting bored with that volume and less variety of movement anyway. 

reading, get back into a routine
Image by Michelle Nash

Remember: Routines Aren’t Linear 

In an ideal world, my routines (whatever they are) would be 100% perfect and lined up exactly as planned. But life simply doesn’t work that way. I had to remind myself that for me, a routine was something I would do MOST of the time, not ALL the time. I didn’t realize I had placed such an emphasis on total output every single day. Now I find so much freedom in doing what I can with whatever circumstances I find myself in—less time, more time, lots of travel, etc. 

I had to remind myself that for me, a routine was something I would do MOST of the time, not ALL the time.

Leave Room to Pivot

Never once in my quest to walk 12-15k steps a day did I leave an ounce of room to switch it up and try something new for movement or mindfulness. I committed to the steps and stuck with it as if I were earning a badge of honor for accomplishing this thing every day. It also didn’t give me much of an opportunity to really check in and ask if I was enjoying it or not. It became such a habit and I was operating on autopilot. While I still try to hit that number, I’m having a ton of fun making time for Pilates or a bootcamp class, which is quite different than what I was doing within my routine. 

peeling oranges
Image by Michelle Nash

Repurpose Your Time

Nothing novel or new here, but because time was less accessible to me, I needed to get creative on how I’d utilize it. I wanted to prioritize time for movement, but also time to catch up with my family on the phone, or spend time with my partner. So the obvious move was to walk + talk and walk + connect. Same for walking to a restaurant, grocery store, or any relatively close errands, rather than driving.

Give Yourself Grace

This is probably the hardest one for me. But reminding myself that the seasons of life look different and I always have an opportunity to shift course, try something new, or pick right back up at any moment—no matter how different it looks—was extremely helpful in coming back to movement. The “I wish’s,” and “I should’ve’s” aren’t productive for me. Instead, I choose to come from a place of realizing I can always take action and be good to myself. Supporting yourself through life’s inevitable changes is a much kinder, gentler, and encouraging place to be.