Often, the word routine has many negative attachments. The concept of a routine is often associated with someone who lives the same mundane day over and over again, never experiencing anything new or exciting. In this article, I am hoping to shift your perspective and show you that a healthy routine not only has a heap of benefits but can also be enjoyable!
You cannot fit every type of routine into one small box. Some routines are not helpful and can have a long-lasting negative effect on an individual. For example, you may have found yourself in the routine of waking up every night at 2 am, going to your refrigerator and drinking an excessive amount of chocolate milk. This would be considered an unhealthy routine that you are following. Luckily, you have the ability to change any routine you practice, good or bad.
In this article, we will be looking at how habits play into your routine, how to optimize your time and the impact doing so could have on you.
Hacking your habits
Essentially, a habit is a routine of behaviour that is regularly repeated. It often tends to occur subconsciously. A few examples of common habits are; nail-biting, avoiding eye contact, skipping breakfast, etc. While these may seem like ‘negative’ habits, not all habits have to be negative.
When you repeat an action or a thought over and over again, it becomes a default mode. This can make something like smoking cigarettes very difficult to quit. Every single time you move your hand up to your mouth to take a puff of your cigarette, you are allowing the same neurons to run down the same pathways time and time again. The more often you do this, the more worn in said pathways will become. Eventually, it will be very difficult to stop neurologically because it is an action/habit your brain is so used to performing.
However, we can use this to our advantage and hack our habits. You can start by analysing your daily habits. When doing this, writing everything down can help and you can zoom out, seeing the bigger picture. You can then reflect on your habits and decide which ones are helpful and which ones are limiting you from reaching your full potential.
Consciously introducing new healthier habits to replace the old habits that do not serve you is difficult in the beginning. This may seem like an uphill battle at first but you will get there! Just give yourself the time you need, especially when it comes to unlearning the habits you are trying to kick. It is often much easier to develop a new habit than it is to rid of an old one. Doing this is a perfect start when looking at creating a routine that aligns with your lifestyle and the person you wish to be.
The first step is awareness of your habits. Next comes reflection. After this, you can put your thoughts into practice! Let’s move on and talk more about routine now that we have covered the habits aspect!
What is a healthy routine?
When curating a healthy routine for yourself, reflection is your best friend! Not only is it crucial to take a look at the habits you already have but also at where you currently are at in life, followed by where you would like to see yourself in the future. The importance of setting goals and the importance of having a routine go hand in hand!
Take a step back and be honest with yourself about changes you could make that would help you move forward towards being the person you wish to be. The only person that can create true change in your life is you. It is far too easy to become stagnant and tick along without developing oneself. Before you know it, years have gone by and you are still in the same place. I am not stating that you must have an extensive daily routine that is overall challenging, leaving you feeling exhausted and unmotivated to remain consistent. What I am trying to say is that you will be surprised at how many big changes come from making small adjustments.
Let’s use reading as an example. If you set aside 10 minutes a day to read, you will increase your memory, confidence, and critical thinking skills. In some cases, it can also lower your risks of Alzheimer’s disease. Even reading for 10 minutes a day can impact your longevity! Additionally, if you can master tiny acts of self-discipline like reading, it will help future you be less afraid of self-discipline. The key is to take baby steps and work from there!
The benefits of having a routine
When we can organize our time around what is most essential for us to thrive, we can maintain a higher sense of well-being and fulfilment more consistently. However, I believe that different types of routines offer different benefits. That being said, I would like to go over two of the most currently discussed routines.
Not to sound dramatic, but having a well-established morning routine can quite literally change your life! Ensuring that you have a positive start to your day can set the tone for your afternoon and (sometimes) even your evening! It is suggested by experts to include some sort of physical movement, learning, and mindfulness practice into your morning routine. Bonus points if you include brain supplements into your morning!
Here is a short list of a few benefits you can expect (when following the suggestions above) when following a morning routine:
- Decreased stress
- Increased productivity
- Less brain fog
- Boosted energy levels
- Improved brain function
- Stabilized mood
- Heightened sense of well-being
There is no surprise that practicing a night-time routine is beneficial. Everyone seems to have their own way of winding down at the end of the day. Many of us have little to no evening routine, which can negatively affect our circadian rhythm, which governs how we function at all hours of the day.
Many of us spend our evenings in front of screens and partake in no self-care practices. Experts can suggest creating a routine that includes a set time when you begin to wind down, turning off your phone/tv, something to relax the mind/body (eg, meditation or yoga), and something to put your mind at ease, such as reading a relaxing book.
Here is a short list of a few benefits you can expect (when following the suggestions above) when following a night-time routine:
- Decreased stress and anxiety
- Higher quality sleep
- Increased well-being
- Makes mornings easier
- Increases brain function
- Better immune function and digestion
- Lowered blood pressure
Trying out different methods of routine and habit hacking can make you feel more in control over your life. We are creatures of habit which is why we can thrive when we find a balanced routine. Take time optimizing both your morning and nighttime routines for best results. Life is short! Why not make it as ‘easy’ as possible? Promote longevity and happiness with routine.