Making Routines Work For You


By Emma Carroll

I am a creature of habit. I like things 'just so' and like to know what I am doing and when. I also don't deal very well with change and enjoy the sense of stability I receive from routine and tradition. Like most people, my daily life is made up of lots of different routines. My alarm goes off at the same time every morning, I get the bus to work at the same time every day, I eat the same thing for lunch, I go home and watch TV, I have a bath and I go to bed. Even my days off work are structured with set times for writing, relaxing, watching Doctors, then cleaning and making dinner.

On my last day off, my other half took the morning off to spend with me. Whilst it was lovely to spend time together I couldn't help but feel out of sorts without the safety of my usual routine. I only get every other Monday off and am used to spending them by myself pottering around and having some 'me' time.

Unless you are rich or famous, your life is likely to be just like mine but with slightly different activities. Routines and traditions are all around us - from our daily lives, to special occasions like Christmas and birthdays.

I think subconsciously it reminds us of being children and having that safety blanket of not having to do or think anything for ourselves. Our parents dictated what we did and when, kept us warm, clean and fed then put us to sleep at the same time every night. Through these actions we have learnt to feel safe in the comfort of knowing what to expect next. But when does this safety become monotony?

As much as routine can be an integral part of our lives, it's easy to let a habit become a rut that you can't get out of. A daily task that you previously carried out without thinking can become a chore, such as a long commute. When you're doing something every day that you have grown to hate, it can have a real impact on your life and mental wellbeing.

According to Christine Carter from Psychology Today your routine should work for you regardless of whether it is the most productive or efficient. She suggests being mindful of your habits and even using a habit tracker to assist you in creating better routines. Some things can't be avoided, such as going to work every day, but using a habit tracker can help you to see things differently – an alternative route to work, for example. It's been said that making tiny and seemingly irrelevant changes to your daily pattern can stimulate nerve cells and boost production of neurotrophins, which help brain cells thrive.

Life is about making the best of everything you can, routine works for some, but not for others. Don't be bogged down by things you hate; life is too short. Tailor your daily grind so that you are the master of your routine - not the other way round.

Image via Alan Cleaver's Flickr

POSTED IN: LIFE
Tue, 08 Jan 2013 10:00 (GMT+00)
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