To be able to live to the fullest in this complex reality, humans have developed a cognitive system that helps them organize billions of information we receive on a minute basis. We categorize objects, colors, sounds, smells, or movements to simplify and organize our reality.
We organize our behavior in a similar way. Sometimes it happens consciously, when we meticulously organize our mornings to set us up for a good mood that will last throughout the day, but, sometimes, we create small rituals unconsciously. For example, some people repeat the same set of movements every time they begin eating, while others prefer to drink their coffee from the same mug while sitting on the same chair, every single morning.
All these small or big rituals play one crucial role in our lives: they provide us with predictability, security, control, and they help us structure our time and behavior to deal with the world’s and our mind’s chaos.
The Benefits of Routines
Besides their basic organizing function, routines have many other benefits. According to WHO, healthy lifestyle habits and routines and the ability to stick to them consistently are tremendously important for maintaining good mental and physical wellbeing, and their role in times when we combat difficult diseases and life hardships is immeasurable.
People who don’t follow any type of routine often suffer from increased perceived stress levels, disrupted sleeping and eating cycles, procrastination, and physical and mental health issues.
In a series of experiments, scientists have shown that routines help us become better in decision-making processes in our everyday life. This is due to the fact that routines that we create help us relieve our mental system and allow us to focus on what’s really important. In many cases, when asked about our routines, we know that they exist, but rarely we remember the details of our actions. This doesn’t necessarily mean that we complete all of our routine activities on autopilot, however, this is exactly one of the biggest benefits of routines: we don’t need to think about what’s coming next, we already have it figured out.
This leads us to our next important point: it may seem counterintuitive at first, but routines and systems boost our creativity. As famous Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami says: “Routines are mesmerizing. I mesmerize myself to reach a deeper state of mind”. And it’s true: the repetitiveness, the familiarity, the predictability–they let us set off into higher states of consciousness and flow, and be more productive, intentional and creative with our goals.
With this in mind, we’ll now list and sum up some of the most important benefits of routines:
They help us build and maintain healthy habits;
They help us get the most out of our time;
They help us achieve our goals;
They help us maintain mental wellbeing;
They are calming and comforting;
They boost our creativity and productivity.
How to Make a Great Routine
Many great things in life begin with a pen in hand and a piece of paper. So does making a proper, healthy, productive routine.
The first step is to write down all the things you would like to complete over the course of one day. Then take a moment to think about which of these activities are of peripheral importance for you to have a fulfilling day. Now think: Which of the more important things could you do in a set time each day or week?
For example, if you want to make your mornings more positive and mindful, you might want to wake up earlier to spend some time with yourself and put gratitude journaling and positive affirmations sessions in your pre-work morning routine. Those who’d like to get more fit, should think about fitting a walk and short workout session in their mornings, followed by a healthy eating routine and staying active throughout the day.
It’s important that routine activities are realistic, compatible with your lifestyle and they help you feel stronger, energized and more joyful. If you’re an early bird, jogging at 6.30 am might work well for you, but, if you’re not, this kind of new routine may stress you and your body out. Start with simple steps and small moderations and then slowly build up your routine.
Once a routine is set, you can change and enhance it the way you best see fit. It’s not about being rigid and holding on to your routine at all costs. If there are changes in your lifestyle, make sure to adapt your routine to them. Furthermore, it can be beneficial to make tiny changes in your routines from time to time, for the sake of keeping things fresh and discovering what suits you best.
Setting up a routine can seem like a real challenge. Learning new behaviors and sticking to them is a trial-and-error process. However, life is a series of routines: they help us function against the chaos of the world and our minds. They give us extra control and discipline.They bring wellness, harmony and structure into our everyday life.
Intentional solitude is nothing to be fearful of. Au contraire, it’s bursting with potential and possibilities. The freedom in it may provide you with insights you’d never experience in the presence of others and enhance your relationship with yourself in more ways than one.