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Reset Routine: How to get your life together in one day

An easy-to-follow guide to planning and executing a successful reset routine that’s got you covered at times of stress and overwhelm. You can follow these steps, adjusting as necessary to fit your lifestyle, and find yourself back on track within the space of a day. It’s as simple as hitting a reset button.

Every once in a while, when life has been going a hundred miles an hour and I’ve hardly gotten a chance to catch my breath, I feel stress and overwhelm threatening to take over. In the past, this made me panic. As responsibilities piled up, I would keep trying to do it all. I frantically added items to my to-do list, feeling guilty when I couldn’t find time to complete all the tasks. I almost always neglected my own wellbeing in favour of college and work responsibilities. And even then, I always seemed to have too little time to do everything.

The results were pretty predictable. I always ended up feeling even more stressed and overwhelmed, eventually giving up on a project, cancelling plans I had been excited for, or even catching a cold because I wasn’t taking good care of my health.

I quickly realised that this way wasn’t working for me. Not only was it a quick shortcut to burning out, but it also prevented me from enjoying my life and being present in the moment. I needed to find another solution.

Getting my life together

Inspiration came to me as I discovered two incredible YouTube channels: Kalyn Nicholson and Lavendaire. Both of these inspiring ladies taught me that taking time out of your week to hit the reset button, indulge in some well-deserved self-care, and tackle all the things that you’ve been neglecting and struggling to complete is a crucial part of a healthy weekly routine.

Since I found Kalyn’s GYST day routine and Aileen’s reset day routine, I have followed their advice, tried and tested, and found what works best for my life. I’ve developed a reset routine that I can always fall back on when things get a little too hectic. I now know how to spot the signs and know when I need some me time. And when I do, I make sure to schedule a day when I won’t be interrupted, and hit the reset button on my life.

Today, I’m sharing my reset routine with you. I hope it will come in handy when life gets too stressful and your to-do list is stacking up faster than you can jot it all down. Adapt it as necessary to fit your lifestyle, and repeat as often as needed. You’ll find yourself back on the right track and ready to start over in no time.

I’ve also shared a guide to planning a day out to beat post-holiday blues and unlock the travel mindset in the comforts of home. If that sounds like something you’ve been craving, you can give it a read here.

Ready to give yourself a fresh new start? Then let’s get to it.

 

Reset your mind

Give yourself some headspace.

The number one reason why I ever need to set aside a Sunday to get my life in order is a feeling of overwhelm. This is always a symptom of a greater problem. I might be taking too many tasks on, overworking myself, or prioritising the wrong things. Chances are, this means my brain has been working overtime trying to keep track of everything. It desperately needs a break and a chance to reset and unwind.

Not giving your mind a break can ramp up any anxious feelings, increase negative patterns of thinking, and actually decrease your productivity. This means that you’ll continue to feel overwhelmed and stressed out, but not actually be doing more work than usual. These are clear signs that you should let your mind pause and regroup.

I regularly try to include pauses for reflection and little activities to clear my head throughout my days. A ten minute meditation in the morning, a quick journal entry at the end of the day, or a walk in the park at lunchtime, can all help to reduce stress throughout the day and get back on track.

In times of stress and overwhelm, though, these might need to be amped up a notch. As part of my reset routine, I like to include the following self-care rituals that clear my head and significantly reduce anxious feelings.

peaceful image of small stones stacked together on hand with the blue sea and sky in the background

1. Meditation

I know, everyone recommends meditation. At this point it sounds almost like a broken record. I was sceptical about the benefits of meditation at the beginning too. I thought you had to be willing to sit motionless for hours on a yoga mat and chant mantras in Sanskrit for it to work. Not being at all spiritual, I doubted that I would ever get into it.

The thing is, meditation can be the most simple thing. It can be ten minutes of sitting in silence and tuning into your breath, or listening to the sounds around you. It’s a matter of clearing your mind of thoughts, and seeing what ideas and intuitions start presenting themselves in this quiet space.

If you’re new to meditation, you might like to try a guided meditation app like Headspace or Calm. I also like the free app Insight Timer, where you can find hundreds of meditation sessions of all styles. It involves a little more trial and error, but I found some wonderful teachers on it. My personal favourite session is a 10-minute Morning Meditation by Jonathan Lehnmann, which you can find here. It involves effective positive affirmations that set you up for a great day ahead.

Why is this effective?

For me at least, meditating not only clears the clutter in my head, but more importantly, it lets me actually notice the clutter. When I sit down with the intention of emptying my mind of thoughts, I quickly realise just how many thoughts are buzzing around in my head all the time. Being able to observe them drifting in and out allows me to notice their tone — whether they are negative or positive — and their content. This way, I can begin to understand what is troubling me most.

If I sit for long enough and really focus on my breath or the sounds around me, I am able to tune out the chatter and find my inner voice again. Afterwards, I can go about my day in a more intentional way, making decisions based on this state of inner truth rather than the self-conscious, anxious thoughts that clutter up my mind.

One note about meditation: don’t be discouraged if it’s difficult at first. Clearing your mind is not easy — meditation is a practice for this very reason. Over time, as you build up a habit of sitting down to meditate for a few minutes every day, you’ll find it a lot easier, and the benefits will multiply tenfold.

2. Gratitude

Making a list of things I’m grateful for takes less than five minutes, but it’s a crucial part of my reset routine. It’s as simple as writing down five things that you appreciate in your life right now. You can also make this part of a more regular routine by keeping a gratitude journal and repeating this exercise every night before bed.

Gratitude exercises have proven physical and mental health benefits. These include better quality sleep, reduced negative emotions, and improved self-esteem. Taking five minutes out of a busy schedule to consider the things that you have, rather than chasing the things that you don’t, can make you stop in your tracks and realise that there is a lot of good in your life.

It creates a mindset of abundance and opens you up to the world around you. It can help to clear all the negative self-talk that comes with being busy and overworked. Five minutes to a calmer, more well-rounded mind seems like a small price to pay, right?

3. Free writing

Whenever I feel that my mind is especially cluttered, I let it roam free through a pen on paper. I’ve kept a diary or journal on and off for probably around ten years now, and it seems like second nature to me by now. Sometimes, when I let myself write whatever is on my mind, I discover myself letting out things that I didn’t even notice were bothering me. This is because I tune into my inner voice, and my thoughts run unfiltered onto the page.

If you’re like me and like to express yourself through writing, you might find journalling or free-writing incredibly useful as part of a regular reset routine. This can take the form of morning pages, stream of consciousness writing, or via a brain dump spread in your bullet journal. Whatever form you choose, make sure that you’re not focusing on grammar and structure here. The key is to be authentic: to capture the thoughts and emotions that are running through your mind right now, wherever that might take you. I always know that when my journalling isn’t flowing naturally and I’m constantly getting distracted, my mind needs a thorough declutter.

In a way, free writing is similar to meditation. It allows you to notice and categorise the clutter in your head, prioritising what’s important, and letting go of everything else. It helps you reconnect with your inner voice, and go about the rest of your day with purpose and intention. The difference is, it also provides a visual representation of how your mind is looking right now. When it’s scattered, disorganised, and distracted, your writing will reflect that.

4. Social media detox

Social media can be a great source of connection and inspiration. It’s also great when waiting for a bus or wanting to avoid awkward situations in public. When I’m busy and stressed, though, scrolling through my feed only adds to the clutter and amplifies my anxieties.

I’ve also recently realised that scrolling through my feed first thing in the morning throws me off and fails to set me up on the right track for the day. It fills my head with ideas and inspiration before I’ve even had a chance to think of some of my own priorities and ideas. I’ve therefore decided to make a conscious effort to stay off my phone in the morning, at least until I’ve started on some tasks for the day.

Whenever I’m trying to hit the reset button on my life, I try to block out external sources of value and comparison as much as possible. My aim is to tune into my own inner voice, not to be influenced by hundreds of people on Instagram. On a reset day, I try to put my phone away and focus on offline activities instead.

Sometimes, if I’m really struggling with staying off my phone, I use an app like Forest to keep me accountable. All you have to do is set an amount of time during which you don’t want to be distracted, and plant a seed. When the time is up, a tree has grown, and is added to your forest. If you fail, the tree dies. If nothing else, the guilt aspect is very effective at making sure I stay focused and off my phone!

5. Just relax

Taking time to let yourself relax may sound like a bit of a no-brainer for a reset routine. That being said, I still find myself needing the reminder sometimes. I can go for hours scrolling mindlessly through Instagram some evenings when I could be watching my favourite show or reading a book instead. There are more, and less, effective and enjoyable ways to spend your downtime. Making a conscious effort to get comfortable and take some time to relax is a crucial first step to letting your mind rest.

 

Reset your body

Get back to feeling body positive and set yourself up for healthy habits.

Once your mind is clear of the clutter of the week, it’s time to repeat the process with your body. I sometimes tend to forget how important it is to look after my physical health and wellbeing when times are especially stressful. Every time this happens, I find myself starting to feel sluggish and tired all the time. I also tend to have a lot more negative thoughts about my body image, and my self-esteem suffers as a result.

When hitting the reset button on my life, I always incorporate healthy habits and self-care rituals that make me feel more positive and confident in my own skin. This is the time to get back on track with skincare routines, workout regimens, and healthy meal prepping.

grey and mint green adidas sneakers on bed

1. Exercise

The single fastest way to feel better and healthier in your own skin is to exercise. Whether it means doing a home pilates workout, heading to the gym to lift weights, or going for a run around the block, exercise is an essential part of any effective reset routine. This applies especially if you’ve been running around catching up on a never-ending to-do list for as long as you can remember.

Whenever I’ve been out of the gym for a while and feel anxious about going back, I remind myself that I’ve never regretted a workout. Even if I don’t hit my personal best or feel faint after 10 minutes on the treadmill, I’m always proud of myself for going anyway. If I’m finding it hard to get myself to make the leap, I tell myself to just put on my workout clothes. Every single time without fail, this gets me motivated to go and try my best.

If I’m feeling too tired for a strenuous workout, I like to download an audiobook or an episode of my favourite podcast, and just walk at a steep incline on the treadmill. This gets my heart rate up, makes the time fly, and I always learn something new in the meantime. It’s an easy win!

2. Healthy meals

Comfort eating, mindless snacking, skipping meals. These can all be familiar by-products of a tightly packed, high-stress schedule. For example, when I was working on my dissertation, I could go a full day in the library on just a protein bar and a coffee. I’d eat dinner late, and have no time to prepare lunch for the next day. Then, I’d repeat it again and again. It’s no wonder I quickly caught a bout of the flu that I couldn’t shake for ages.

It certainly comes as no surprise to anyone that a healthy, balanced diet full of fruit and vegetables has a positive effect on both physical and mental health. It can improve your mood, boost your immunity, and give you more energy throughout the day. While trying to reset my life, I make sure I’m having healthy and balanced meals. I steer clear of takeaways, and stick to filling, nutritious, yet easy-to-make dishes.

I also like to prepare for the week ahead, making a grocery list, going shopping, and meal prepping a couple of key things I want to have on hand throughout the week. Setting aside two hours on a Sunday to make lunches and dinners is not only a huge time-saver, but also gives me one less thing to worry about every day, significantly reducing the amount of overwhelm I experience.

3. Sleep

Sleep is something I tend to neglect the fastest when life is throwing curveballs at me. I mean, when you have 5 deadlines, 3 meetings, and 20 tasks to take care of, who has time for 8 hours of sleep? Surely I can pull a few late nights and nothing will happen, right?

Wrong.

Allowing your body to properly rest and recharge is necessary to staying productive and feeling good while you’re at it. Every person needs a different amount of sleep to function properly, depending on age, activity levels, and physical health. You probably already know how much sleep makes you feel at your best. For me, it’s around 7 hours. If I’ve been functioning on less than that all week, my mind starts feeling foggy and distracted.

Try to give yourself a little bit of a lie in on a reset day — you’ve been so busy, you deserve it! Also, make sure that at the end of the day you’re in bed at a reasonable time to set yourself up for success. Otherwise, the vicious cycle will repeat itself indefinitely, and you’ll be cranky and sleep-deprived again in no time.

4. Self-care

My favourite part of any reset routine! When I’ve been focusing solely on my workload for a while, I always feel myself needing the pleasant aspects of self-care to get myself out of my stressed-out mindset. This is the time for you to feel good on the outside. This day is not all about appearance in the slightest, but about giving yourself time to feel your best.

A warm bath with a Lush bath bomb, followed by a sheet mask and a home manicure — there’s my recipe for self-care success. You might want to include other things: burning essential oils, getting your eyebrows threaded, or finally booking a haircut appointment.

Think about the things that make you feel the most comfortable and confident in your own skin. Then, set aside time to do these things as part of your reset day. You’ll feel more relaxed and in your zone in no time!

 

Reset your space

Tidy, declutter, and organise the space around you.

I don’t know about you, but I know that I can’t work or think in a cluttered or untidy environment. Somehow, my mindset tends to reflect my surroundings, and a messy home means a messy, unstructured workflow. Unfortunately, when times get busy, it’s harder to keep track of all the household tasks that can pile up all too quickly.

Because of that, I always try to do some housework on my reset days. That way, the following day I can jump right into a fresh and positive mindset, without worrying about a stack of dishes in the sink. It’s far from exciting, but it has to be done. I just put on some great music or a podcast, and get right to it.

bookshelf with pastel coloured books - tidying your space as part of a reset routine

I try not to focus my day entirely on housework, but here are a couple of things I like to catch up on:

  1. Tidying and organising my desk. This is often my first priority. If my desk is messy, I already know I won’t get any planning or work done. I like to clear as many items as possible, give it a thorough clean, and file any paperwork and receipts that have accumulated over the last while.

  2. Cleaning my bathroom. This is one of my most hated household tasks, so unless I schedule it in, chances are I won’t do it. I like to give my shower, sink, and toilet (glam!) a good scrub. I also clean all the mirrors and organise my skincare items while I’m at it. Also, I makes sure to clean my makeup brushes every so often.

  3. Cleaning the kitchen. This is definitely a high priority area. Before I go grocery shopping, I like to clear out the fridge and take stock of everything that I have. I also give the kitchen surfaces a polish, and make sure to tackle any dishes that have piled up in the sink.

  4. Vacuuming the apartment. I always think this takes a crazy amount of time, but I’m usually finished within ten minutes. It makes a world of a difference.

  5. Taking care of laundry and tackling the proverbial “clothes chair.” Need I say more? It just seems to pile up so fast! If I’m feeling especially adventurous, I also change the bedsheets. The feeling of fresh sheets is irreplaceable!

Housework might be the least exciting part of a reset routine, but I promise that you’ll feel a million times better when it’s over. You’ll have a fresh and tidy space to do all your planning and self-care, and you’ll be able to jump back into your workload without worrying about all the menial tasks waiting to be done around the house.

 

Reset your priorities

Get your goals back on track.

Last but certainly not least, a crucial part of the reset routine is the planning and prioritising stage. Sure, it’s wonderful that you’ve taken a day out of the usual grind to catch up on yourself and feel less overwhelmed, but it’s equally important to reflect on the reasons why you felt that way and make sure that you’re preventing it from happening again.

At the end of the day, set aside some time to look over your to-do list and plans for the week ahead. What tasks are the most important? Which ones will just cause you unnecessary stress without any meaningful results? Is there any area of your life you could simplify to take the pressure off?

july monthly bullet journal spread with sunflower theme and a book underneath on a stripy white and yellow background

How to reset my goals and priorities for the week ahead

  1. Prioritise. Make a list of your top 3 priorities and focus areas for the week ahead. Then, make a list of the things that are less important. I also like to write out 3 main goals that I’m working towards, and check in on them throughout the week. This will help you keep your energy focused on the things that matter most.

  2. Plan the week. At the end of every week, I always make a weekly spread in my bullet journal, ready for Monday. I like to make an area for weekly goals and a main focus for the week. That way, I stay organised and on top of all my tasks and events, while also making sure that I’m focused on the important stuff. You don’t have to use a bullet journal — any planner, plain notebook, or even just Google Calendar will do. Just make sure you refer back to it throughout the week to stay on track.

  3. Set yourself up for success. Prepare for the things you know you find difficult to keep up with. For me, one of these is keeping a consistent workout routine. So, during a reset day, I make sure to schedule my workouts in my bullet journal, lay out my gym clothes, and save some workout videos from my favourite fitness Instagrammers for inspiration throughout the week. I do everything I can to make sure that I get to the gym later in the week. This doesn’t have to be exercise for you. You might find it very stressful to choose an outfit every day. If that’s the case, you can plan a week’s worth of outfits on your reset day. Just check the weather, prepare everything in advance, and you’ll have nothing to worry about in the mornings.

 

Wrapping it up

So there you have it: four key elements of a successful reset routine.

Once you’ve planned and prepped for the week ahead, gotten some rest time for both mind and body, and freshened up your space, you’re ready to get back on track with everything life throws at you in the weeks to come.

Incorporating some or all of these little rituals will help you to clear your head, find your inner voice, and feel in control of your life and work again. This will help you to prioritise what’s most important, and let go of the things that are only draining your energy and having a negative effect on your mind.

A reset day gives you the power of a fresh start — so take it! Embrace every opportunity that offers you a new beginning and a chance to start over and feel refreshed. You deserve this time, and you deserve to feel calmer and happier in your day-to-day life.

 

Let me know if you try out some of these tips and share your reset routine with me over on Instagram! And while you’re here, check out some of my most recent posts! Until next time!

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