Routine: Information for Young People

Routine is a sequence of actions or tasks that are regularly followed. This may be flexible for some of us at the moment and some of our usual routines, such as getting ready to go to school, might have stopped, but that does not mean that there cannot be structure in our day. A lack of routine and structure can lead us to feeling anxious and upset. By developing a regular daily routine, we create structure to our day and week, which helps us to feel more in control of what is going on in our lives and make room for the things that are important to us. Routine can benefit our overall mental health, helping us to cope with change, form healthy habits, and reduce our stress levels. There are lots of things you can do to help improve your routine; here are some simple tips to try yourself or share with others:

Planning for the day

Structure can help us see what is happening next in the day, look forward to rest of the week and see the difference between weekdays and weekends.

  • A rota or timetable, even a loose one – can help to reduce our anxiety.
  • Make a plan for the day or week – include time for learning, playing and relaxing.
  • Try setting your routine around mealtimes – breakfast, lunch and dinner.
  • Set yourself a goal or task to complete in the morning and afternoon, however small or large, things that are important for you.

Starting the day

Waking up in the morning can set us off to a great start for the day, feel a sense of purpose and motivation.

  • Set yourself an alarm to help wake you up in the morning – avoid sleeping in too late.
  • Take a shower or wash your face to freshen you up.
  • Get changed from the clothes that you slept in into something you could wear outside.
  • Have something to eat – this will give you energy for the rest of the day.
  • Go for a walk outside or in your garden for some fresh air.

Doing school work

The school bell might not ring in our house, but we should still have a plan in place to get the work set completed.

  • Aim to start studying in the morning – So you can get the most out of your day.
  • If you can, find somewhere quiet in your home to study, away from any distractions.
  • Set yourself a realistic amount of time to complete each piece of work.
  • Make sure to take regular short breaks from studying, like you would at school – even more often if needed.
  • If you are struggling with any of your work, make sure that you speak to someone from your school about this for support.
  • Try to complete each piece of work where you can – avoid having this on your mind overnight or rushing it at the final hour, your evening should be time relaxing with your family or by yourself.
  • Make time for both school work AND relaxing.

Keeping busy

It is also important to find time to do things for yourself, as well as school work.

  • Create a schedule of activities that will lead to you having positive experiences in your day.
  • Find practical things to do indoors – such as yoga, mindfulness, puzzle games, crafting projects, cooking, exercise classes.
  • Make the most of the time you have to go outside – go for a walk or run, which can help to kickstart or breakup the day.
  • Find things you really enjoy – this might be reading, playing boardgames or cards or play music and dance.


Going to bed and waking up at a similar time most days is really important for our body clock and overall mental health. We all know how easy it can be to get absorbed into looking at our phone, watching a film or playing a game, and before you know it, it is way past when we intended to go to sleep. Here are some ideas of how to create a regular routine and help get a good night’s sleep.

  • Reduce screen time (phone / television) before and during going to sleep – this can over stimulate the mind, making it difficult to get to sleep and affecting the quality.
  • Put away devices and turn off notifications on our phones.
  • Do regular exercise – this can help us get to sleep.
  • Reduce the amount of caffeine (such as energy drinks/tea/coffee) and sugary food and drinks before sleep.
  • Set an alarm or reminder of when to start winding-down to get ready for sleep.

It’s important to get the right amount of good quality sleep (not too much or little). The NHS that young people should have a minimum of 8 to 9 hours’ sleep. By having a regular sleep routine, we should begin to find it easier to get to sleep and have a better night’s sleep. If we change our body clock by sleeping and going to bed later and at different times, this can have a really big impact on our mood and productivity.

The better routine you have in place now, the better you will feel and the easier it will be in the future when things start returning to as things were. Changing a routine once you are in one can be challenging. However, if you have slipped into a bad routine, no need to worry; it’s never too late to make positive changes, you may just wish to make changes gradually over time.

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