We are creatures of habit and in recent years, there has been a considerable amount of psychological research on the important role that routines play in our lives. We all follow routines to some extent and they have far-reaching effects on our mental and physical well being.
Habits such as going for a run every morning or flossing your teeth every night will improve your physical health, for sure. But routine is also good for our mental health: by following routines, we have fewer decisions to make. Creating a natural rhythm to your day reduces stress and anxiety and frees up mental space for creativity and innovation.
However, there’s nothing innately good or innately bad about routines. Whether they have a positive or negative effect on you will depend on your character and personality. Some people find following a routine too strictly feels stifling and can lead to missed opportunities. If you’re reflecting on the influence on your everyday habits, here’s a rundown of the positive and negative aspects of routines.
Because routines are repetitive and predictable they help us to take control of our day, calming us and reducing stress and anxiety.
Set your alarm so that you have plenty of time for exercise and/or early morning tasks before you have to leave for work. Don't jump from one job to another but create a daily schedule and stick to it. This frees up mental space and you’ll waste less time and energy.
Sticking to a regular, predictable routine allows you to save your mental energies for making big decisions. Whether you’re planning to apply for a new job or move house, routines give you the brain space you need to focus on deciding what’s right for you.
Good sleep hygiene starts with your bedtime routine. Switch off all your screens at least an hour before bedtime and try to avoid stressful TV shows and news programmes late at night.
Try meditating for a few minutes or read something light. Some people find that taking a warm bath just before bedtime helps them to sleep: by raising your body temperature and then allowing it to drop back to normal, you are mimicking what your body does as you fall asleep. By getting to sleep on time, you will wake up energised, refreshed and ready to tackle whatever your day has in store.
With a hectic family schedule, it can be difficult for families to spend much time together. Creating a routine of eating dinner together every evening - and clearing up afterwards - is an excellent way to give you and your family time and space for chatting and catching up on the day’s events.
Once you have established a regular, predictable schedule, you’ll find you have more time for doing the things you really love. Whether gardening, reading, an exercise class, or just an evening walk with your partner, your favourite activities will also become part of your everyday routines.
Following regular habits can indeed help to reduce anxiety, but following strict routines isn’t good for everyone. Adhering too strictly to a routine can sometimes lead to a drop in creativity and becoming stuck in a rut.
When you’ve established a routine, things can crop up unexpectedly that will prevent you from following it. This can lead to reduced motivation and productivity than if you had been following a more flexible schedule.
When you turn down an invitation to something you’d like to do because you feel compelled to stay in and catch up with your favourite TV programmes, you know you’ve got into a rut. Sticking to a routine too rigidly can lead to missed opportunities.
Many of our habits and routines are not good for us. For some people, it’s a cigarette break, for others, chocolates or cake mid-afternoon, or a beer or glass of wine after work - or maybe all three! If you’re trying to cut back, breaking the old habit is the hardest part. It can take up to three weeks to rewire the brain to accept a new routine, so don't give up too quickly.
Most of us benefit from routine in our lives. If you feel more routine would be helpful to you, take a pen and paper and note down your daily activities over a week, and see what you can reduce or cut out.
Then work out a new routine that will fit in with your lifestyle and personality. It’s no good setting yourself the goal of getting up with the lark to go for a run if you’re a night owl, as it probably won’t be something you can persist with for very long.
Once you’ve created your new routine, it should be like second nature after just a few weeks. But if something doesn’t work for you, don't be afraid to make changes.
Have you ever noticed that some people are instantly likeable? Many people believe that people will only like you because of natural traits you're born with: good looks, talent and sociability. But this is a misconception. Getting people to like you is within your control, and it's all to do with self-belief, knowing yourself and being emotionally intelligent. Here's what to do to be more likeable.
Lynn Anderson told it very nicely in her song “I beg your pardon; I never promised you a rose garden”. Life isn’t all roses and everybody experiences something they would rather not once in their life.Read the complete article
No one knows what the future holds, so don't waste time and energy worrying about it. Read our tips and find out how to stop being afraid of what might never happen.Read the complete article
For many people, 2020 has been one of the worst years they can remember. The COVID -19 pandemic and social unrest have changed our lives in ways we would not have believed possible a year ago. And when January 2021 comes around, we're still likely to be facing many challenges. Can 2021 be a better year?Read the complete article
As nice as it is for a person to celebrate New Year, it's not so nice for a dog, especially when the loud fireworks go off the whole night. This is really frightening for many dogs. Read our 7 tips on how you can help your dog with his fear of fireworks.
It's not always easy to tell if someone has depression. While some signs such as sadness, pessimism and withdrawal from social interaction are easy to recognise, other symptoms may be less obvious. And some people are very good at hiding their depression - even from themselves!
Do you sometimes feel your achievements are not the result of your hard work and skill but are just luck? And do you fear that one day, someone will reveal you as an imposter or fraud? You might have imposter syndrome!
What are your aims in life? Do you plan to be rich, to be a top footballer, to be a good parent, or to become Prime Minister? However efficiently you plan your life, sooner or later you are going to come up against obstacles to achieving your goals.
Why do you feel butterflies at the start of a new romance, and how can you keep the flame burning in a long term relationship as the spark starts to fade?Read the complete article
It’s such a positive thing to do and hope springs eternal, so why not commit yourself to a change this year? Here’s our tips on how to stick to your new year’s resolutions.
Are you unsure which Bach flowers can help you? Contact Tom for free advice.