A Psychologist Created a Routine To Help Me Bust My Stress Cycle—and I’ve Never Felt Better

When the Well+Good offices shut down last March, the first thing I did was go home and wash my hands make a daily to-do list. I've always relied on routines to keep my life on track, and I knew that the only way I'd be able to feel like myself during the pandemic was to have a regimented schedule that I stuck to. For a while, it worked. Each morning, I got out of bed at 6:30 a.m. I worked out and meditated, then after work I went for a walk, cooked dinner, and journaled for 20 minutes before falling asleep. But, after a few months of working from home, I kind of just... gave up.

A year later, my daily "routine" (if you can even call it that) involves rolling out of bed 20 minutes before my first Zoom meeting, taking work breaks to binge The Office, and drinking wine and scrolling through TikTok until the wee hours of the morning. Sustainable? Uh, maybe not.

In the latest episode of Zoe Tries It All, I spent four weeks trying to get my life back into balance with the help of sleep specialist Shelby Harris, Psy D, and my new favorite piece of technology, The Fitbit Sense ($300). First, I worked with Dr. Harris to come up with a brand, spanking new routine to lower my daily stress levels so that I could sleep better at night and wake up more easily (and productively) in the morning. Once it was in place, I used the watch to help me stick to it and monitor my progress.

I started my days being gently woken up by the watch's "Smart Wake" function, which tracked my circadian rhythm to wake me at exactly the right moment (within a 30-minute window) so that I wouldn't feel groggy when I got out of bed. Then, I took an "EDA scan," which picked up on my body's electrical charges to give me a daily stress management score, so I could better understand what my body was going through. Next up was a glass of lemon water and a workout, which meant that by the time I logged onto work, I already felt like I'd done something productive with my day. I stuck with pre-scheduled meal times to help break up my workday, and at night, traded in my post-work glass of wine for a Fitbit-led meditation.

I'll admit: At first, it wasn't easy—especially considering my "plan" involved shifting my schedule up by 15 minutes each day. After four weeks, I can say that I'm back to feeling like my pre-pandemic self again... except maybe even better. To see how it went—and pick up some routine-hacking tips that you can try for yourself, check out the video above.

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