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Welcome back, September! Here’s a guide to getting structure back in your life
Image / Self / Advice

Welcome back, September! Here’s a guide to getting structure back in your life


by Niamh Ennis
05th Sep 2022

Growing up I used to call September ‘The Month of the Pencil Case’, which was one of my favourite things about going back to school.

Whether it’s Rose of Tralee on your television, the increase in traffic on your commute each morning or observing the changing colours of the leaves, there is little denying that September has finally arrived. I say ‘finally’ as I’ve spent most of August counting down the days. I unapologetically love September for all the most obvious reasons that you can think of.

I cherish the advancement of those cosy evenings by the fire, the kicking of leaves on my morning walks in the woods, the warm knits you get to snuggle up in, the television schedules improving (hello, Strictly!) and most importantly the reintroduction of regular routines back into my life.

I adore nothing more than a good routine! The Taurean in me is happiest when she knows what she is doing today, tomorrow and next week; and at this time of year, I’m simply in my element filling it all out into my Filofax! Yes, I’m that person you know, who still uses one, and in it I map out my routines and plans in a way that makes me feel so very happy.

I believe that my love of routines and that deep need to establish a structure to my life, has less to do with being organised and much more to do with me being on high alert for those times when bad stuff happened and I was utterly blindsided. I know I’m not alone in feeling like this and it’s simply why so many of us love our own personal structures because they allow us to regain control of our lives when everything around us is falling apart. Routines equal safety.

PSYCHOLOGICAL BENEFITS

Research has also shown that having routines and structures can have wide-ranging psychological benefits. They have the power to improve your cognitive function, enhance your sleeping patterns, lessen anxiety and generally make you feel better in yourself more of the time.

I get that for some people routines seem boring and might feel a little like acquiescing to some more man-made rules. When you think of a daily routine you imagine repetition; doing the same thing in the same way each day; which of course neither sounds exciting nor stimulating. You may picture yourself getting up at the same time, doing the same exercise programme, travelling the same route to work, speaking to the same people, eating your meals at the same time and coming home to the same programmes on your tv. Even to me, that actually sounds extremely monotonous. It also sounds incredibly passive. The best routines are highly pro-active and involve planning and scheduling and then it is entirely up to you just which elements of your routine merit repetition.

SWITCH IT UP

Having a routine doesn’t mean you can’t, or shouldn’t, make changes. In fact, making adjustments to your day only helps to keep things fresh and interesting. And if you feel energised by what you’re doing, the fact is that you are more likely to remain consistent with it – so don’t fall into the trap of creating a routine that looks the same every day! It’s vital that you switch things up and after all, the best thing about having a schedule is being able to make time to do the things you love doing.

Routines can also really help to encourage your creativity and problem-solving skills, increase productivity and promote feelings of self- esteem, all of which contribute positively to improved mental wellbeing! The only caveat here might be to watch out for schedules that are wholly dictated by others, as they may not carry the same benefits which again relates back to your rightful need to feel that you are in control of your own time!

TAKE CHARGE

The world we inhabit today comes with so much uncertainty. It honestly feels like bad news is waiting for us around every corner and rising stress levels have the potential for us to feel squeezed out of our comfort zone. So, this September why not embrace the return of your old routines by putting some new ones in situ.

Put aside time in your schedule that is solely for you – it doesn’t matter how much time, but just so that you acknowledge that you need to look after yourself too. Make yourself your priority. Think about something new you’d love to do this autumn and then plan for just what you need to do to make that happen.

Think about what is worrying you most – is it your finances, your health or your relationships and then think about what can you do now, starting this month, that will begin to ease your concerns. There are four months left to the end of the year and you can honestly achieve an awful so much in that period of time, if you commit to it.

No more looking back and lamenting over the lost summer, it’s time now to look forward and to welcome in this next glorious season. Get out there and watch how nature makes room for newness, how it salutes the changing colour of the trees and how it greets a new routine at this time of the year. It has so much to teach us and we have so much to learn.

American author, Lauren Oliver captures September so perfectly when she writes “The windows are open, admitting the September breeze; a month that smells like notepaper and pencil shavings, autumn leaves and car oil. A month that smells like progress, like moving on.”

Niamh Ennis is Ireland’s leading Change & Transformation Coach and Author who through her private practice, writings, programmes, workshops and podcast has inspired, activated and helped thousands of people to make significant changes in their lives. She is an accredited Personal, Leadership & Executive Coach and the Lead Coach in the IMAGE Business Club. Instagram @1niamhennis or niamhennis.com.