The time is upon us for setting our intentions for the New Year—but in 2020, instead of writing a list of all the things you think you should or shouldn’t be doing, why not focus on creating a small series of routines to nourish you throughout the year? It can be difficult to honor a self-improvement to-do list, but adding in consistent daily rituals can function as the ultimate act of self-care for both our minds and our bodies.
There’s science to prove the benefits of regularity, too—for example, a study published in The Lancet Psychiatry found that people with established daytime routines have healthier sleep cycles, which in turn is linked to better mental health and a decreased risk of developing emotional anxieties, depression, and bipolar disorder. This is a big deal: according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, one in five American adults experienced mental illness in 2018 (that’s approximately 47.6 million people), and 16.5% of U.S. youth aged between 6-17 experienced a mental health disorder in 2016 (that’s around 7.7 million people).
But before you worry that creating a new routine will require tons of money, time, or energy, take a step back. Consistency—not hours clocked—is the key to success here. “It’s about ritual, the check-in, and prioritizing your own well-being on a regular basis,” explains Laura Rubin, the founder of Allswell, a line of creative journals, daily prompt cards, and immersive workshops designed to help people unwind and reconnect with their inner voices. “I’d rather have someone journal for four minutes, five days a week than 20 minutes once a week. Within that framework, it’s healthy to challenge yourself. Mix it up. If a gratitude list is your morning go-to, try a timed free-write, or draw how you’re feeling instead of writing about it. It’s good to experiment and not fall into a rut. We’re all creative beings so give yourself an opportunity to rise to the challenge.”
The alignment between a steady regimen and healthy skin is also unmistakably apparent: “I always tell my clients to wait at least one month being consistent with a new routine to see results for your skin,” says Manhattan-based facialist, Sofie Pavitt. “Being consistent with products means your skin will be less reactive, and less likely to break out from an unknown ingredient that it doesn’t recognize. Having a very strict routine can be particularly beneficial for problematic skin types because it can stop people from picking at or messing with their skin.”
Pavitt also considers a regular skin protocol a positive when it comes to information overload or the urge to try every new product out there: “There is so much noise around skincare. People want to try and buy all the 'cult' products which might not suit their skin types anyway. Having a simple, but effective routine stops you over-spending on unnecessary products which, in turn, can cause your skin to be problematic.” Some examples of when switching up your routine can be a good thing though, says Pavitt, is when “environmental factors change, or if you’re pregnant or nursing.”
So now it’s over to a new decade—and to you. No matter what larger intentions you chose to set (or not), may you find beauty in everyday rituals and solace in simple repetition. Your body and your whole self will surely thank you.
Written by Elsa de Berker for Youth To The People