Routines – some people like a strictly planned daily schedule like the school timetable, others prefer never to have a routine. But what exactly are routines and do we really have to decide either against or for them?
A routine – What is a routine and why should I integrate routines into my everyday life?
Routines relieve our brain because they enable an automated process that can take small decisions off our hands, such as the question “what do I eat for breakfast today?” On average, each of us makes up to 35,000 decisions per day – from the question of breakfast to the question of what to wear, to the question of which door I go through or which way to take to work or school. Routines relieve us of many of these decisions and give us more mental capacity to focus on more relevant issues. Some successful personalities – such as Barack Obama or Mark Zuckerberg – are even reported to have their work clothes in multiple versions so that they don’t have to worry about their daily outfit planning. This saves an enormous amount of time every day, but also mental capacity.
In addition, routines and our daily schedule have an influence on our sleep-wake rhythm, which in turn has an impact on our mental health. This sleep-wake rhythm shows our daily structure – i.e. when we go to bed and when we are awake and active, as well as whether the whole rhythm is regular or varies from time to time. If our sleep-wake rhythm is disturbed, it can lead to concentration difficulties, reduced performance and substance abuse. Further information about sleep can be found here.
A further advantage of routines is that they offer us security in stressful situations, so that we can bring peace into our everyday life by a firm anchor in the daily or weekly structure. They structure our everyday life. This can prevent us from living unhealthily and maintaining relevant routines that improve our health, such as weekly meetings with family or friends, daily meditation, or reading a book, even in stressful phases.
Inspirational daily routines for mental wellbeing and achieving your goals
There are various ways to integrate routines into everyday life. And everyone should test and determine routines for themselves because there are no limits or regulations. Routines can be used for one’s own health, to achieve one’s goals at school, in studies or at work as well as to improve our social life. Maybe the following examples will help you as inspiration:
Routines that promote your health. These routines can relate to your physical fitness but also maintain your mental health. This can be daily meditation, a workout, or a conscious breathing exercise. But also a healthy breakfast, the conscious and calm enjoyment of a cup of coffee or tea in the morning, a daily smoothie or a walk. Find a routine that is beneficial to your health and that you can stick to it. Don’t try too much at once and start with a small change that you can keep up for a long time. For example, how about starting the next three days with a morning meditation or a porridge for breakfast?
Routines that enrich your work can relieve you and improve your efficacy. Ideas for a work routine would be, for example, targeted weekly goals or daily goals. For example, you could write down your goals for the next day the night before so that you know exactly why it is worth getting up. But also reading a certain book a month or reading a professional article weekly can become a kind of continuing education routine for you. Training and networking at events can also help you and your work to progress continuously. Often such routines for the development of your own goals or for conscious further education get lost in the stress of everyday life – therefore it is good to develop a fixed routine so that nothing falls by the wayside in the stress of work. You are completely free in the choice of your routine! Therefore you should not copy routines from others and compare yourself – because that is not necessarily effective for you. In stressful situations, you fall back on your own individual patterns. Therefore, find your own routine, because this increases the probability that it will remain your routine in the long run. Which routine can you implement at work and how can you develop regularly?
Routines that ensure balance and a healthy level of social contact. Especially in stressful phases, we cancel activities that we really enjoy or miss out on relaxed evenings with family or friends. But especially in these phases, it is important to give our brain a well-deserved time-out and compensation. Often there is not much time left and therefore it makes sense to work with a routine in our private life as well. For example, you can plan fixed appointments for social interactions, such as every Wednesday from 6 pm I meet friends, date my partner or skype with my mother. Even a fixed weekly appointment, where you can decide spontaneously whether you want to spend it with yourself or with someone else, creates a balance – especially in stressful phases
I love variety – can routines help me at all and give me a benefit?
The answer is: yes. Because many people don’t like strict routines and love variety. But routine doesn’t always mean that you have to set a fixed timetable like at school. You can also interpret routines differently for yourself. It is helpful to create a kind of “block system” for routines and to build in routines flexibly, for example by scheduling two fixed appointments a week for your own needs. These could include, for example, 1 hour Me-Time twice a week, in which you use your free time completely freely and only for yourself and decide spontaneously whether you want to take a bath, put on a face mask or play video games. Other fixed rituals could be for example every Friday 1 hour of Yoga, a daily workout or a beauty ritual on Thursdays. All of this is for self-care and provides long-term mental health, stability, and increased mental capacity.
Individuality is the key: why is individuality so important in maintaining routines?
Many of us may have caught ourselves looking at routines of successful or inspiring personalities. For some, it is promising to wear the same outfit every day in order to keep the focus on the essential. For others, however, wearing very different or very chic outfits is motivating and yet others love to work in sweatpants. Here individuality is the key to success! Another person’s recipe for success and a daily routine is not necessarily your own. Therefore, there is no point in imitating routines – everyone has to find his or her own routine to maintain it in the long run, because each of us has his or her own characteristics, ways of thinking and structures.
Are routines and rituals the same thing?
Routines and rituals are often used as synonyms for each other. From the point of view of their origin, there are subtle but small differences. Routines are described as actions that can become habits through repeated repetition. Rituals, on the other hand, are described as an action that takes place according to predetermined rules, is usually formal and often solemn and festive, and has a high symbolic content. This means that rituals have a high symbolic content, often of a religious nature, whereas routines do not.
What should I pay attention to? 3 tips to establish an effective daily routine that works for you
- Don’t start with too many routines at the same time, rather start with 1-2 new routines that you plan precisely and integrate into your everyday life
- Make concrete if-then plans, such as “when I get up, I make my bed first” or “when I feel stressed, I pull back briefly and take 5 deep breaths in and out”. These concrete action plans can help you to plan your routines concretely and to implement them with a higher probability. Such plans are often made by people who want to get rid of habits such as smoking or who want to implement a fitness plan. The effectiveness of such plans has been scientifically proven.
- Take responsibility for your actions and do not make yourself dependent on certain routines. Routines should give us a helpful structure, but we should not make ourselves dependent on them. For example, if you have lucky socks that you wear during exams, you may feel that an exam and an appointment will be successful because of these lucky socks. It gives you a feeling of security, it distracts you. This is good because it gives your brain a little time off. However, if you believe too strongly in the ritual of your lucky socks, you may panic if you do not find them on the day of your exam. This can lead to stress and concentration problems. Therefore, it is important not to become dependent on routines, but rather to see them as a complement and relief in everyday life.
Reflect whether you already have elements of a routine in your daily routine. Can you integrate inspirations from the article into your everyday life?
Which routine has worked best for you? If you have any feedback, questions or additions to the article, please feel free to message us here or on instagram (@psychologyjungle). The anonymous commentary function enables the exchange of content. Make sure you treat everyone with respect, even when we are on the Internet 🙂
References (click to expand)
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