I hope that you are well. This month I will share about how routine is a cornerstone of good mental and emotional health.
Doing the ‘same old, same old’ may not sound exciting, but research states that it actually makes you happier and healthier. Routine introduces the elements of rhythm and habit into our daily lives. Rhythm is important because the body has its own natural, synchronised rhythm system (sometimes referred to as ‘the body clock’). Our bodies are ‘set’ to work better when our sleeping, eating and exercise patterns take place on a fairly consistent schedule.
Having a routine is a way of organising your life, enabling you to act instead of standing still because of lack of direction. When we consciously decide what we want to do in our everyday lives, we generally want to do things that make us happy and feel well. As such, we can build lots of good habits along the way by actively participating in our daily lives.
A routine is something you do over and over again, eventually, making it a habit. Once it is a habit, you do not need to think about it to act. The act of automation increases efficiency in your life by enabling you to do things without consciously thinking about it. You will automatically get things done, without having to remind yourself to get things done. In this way, you do not let anything slip and you save time by not having to decide what to do in your day.
Relying on routine to accomplish tasks is a lot easier than relying on willpower and motivation. Willpower is finite and motivation is not constant. You do have to will and motivate yourself to stick to the routine. But once the routine is set, it is on autopilot and the need for constant willpower and motivations no longer necessary.
The modern world is chaotic and many things are beyond our control. Routines create a stable foundation that makes it easier to cope with an unpredictable world.
Many successful people living and dead have been sticklers for routines, particularly morning routines, some of these people include Steve Jobs, Barack Obama, Jane Austen, Queen Elizabeth, Margaret Thatcher, Oprah Winfrey, Jessica Ennis and Richard Branson.
Having a morning routine provides a sense of structure and familiarity. You wake up with a sense of ownership, order and organisation in your life.
I have a well-established morning routine that I know keeps me well that includes: getting out of bed, doing the 5 Tibetan Rites (yoga postures); going for a walk; having a shower; reading a spiritual passage; meditating and then having breakfast.
Having this morning routine enables me to feel ready to face the day, when I complete my morning routine, I feel tuned in and balanced.
Having a routine helps you to become good at things, for example if you are writing every day, you will become a better writer.
It also helps you feel more in control, giving you a sense of having taken responsibility for making positive changes and thereby helping build your confidence.
Here are some tips to support you to create a routine:
Start small – add small routines and build on your successes. Although the benefits of doing something every day are small, the payoff is huge after a while.
Be specific – make the goal tangible such as ‘I will get out of bed at 7am every morning’ or ‘I will go swimming on a Wednesday evening’
Get support – ask for help, for example asking a friend to join you for a regular walk
Plan for success – think through what you’ll do if confronted with challenges, thinking about this can boost the likelihood of success
Be flexible – it may seem counterintuitive but make sure that your routines are flexible, then they can be adapted to your needs, for example, when my granddaughters sleep at my house, I miss out bits of my routine that particular morning.
In previous articles I have shared about WRAP (Wellness Recovery Action Plan), which is a self-management course delivered world-wide by people who are dealing with all kinds of health and life challenges. There are key elements in a plan. The second one is to write a Daily Maintenance List. This list includes the things that you do every day to maintain your wellness, your routine. Writing them down and being conscious of them can help you become aware of how you are looking after yourself and maybe how you can do that better.
I have had my own WRAP plan for 12 years and have been facilitating WRAP groups for 7 years and find the daily maintenance list which is my routine enormously beneficial. Especially at times of change in my life. One of these being when I went from having been employed for 33 years to becoming self-employed. Having well established routines helped me cope with the change to then create new routines.
I wish you every success with your routines and if you are interested in creating your own WRAP plan please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 07775640213 or www.circleswork.co.uk