Developing a daily routine can help us to feel more in control of everything, and help us to make room for all that’s important. Routine can improve our mental health. It can help us to cope with change, to form healthy habits, and to reduce our stress levels.
Routine can be an anchor. No matter what’s going on in our day, knowing that we will be having our evening meal around 6 pm, and going to bed around 10 pm, can be a real comfort. The certainty of our routine can help us to manage the uncertainty that life can throw up and also help us to cope with uncertain period of times like the one we have been living for the past year.
Having a routine can help us to cultivate positive daily habits and to prioritise self-care. Organising our time gives the opportunity to build in blocks of time for things that are important to us. This can allow us to build in daily habits that can potentially boost our mental health. It could include things like time to relax, or a regular bedtime. When they’re part of our routine, it can make it easier to keep up with them because we have the time to do them and they become our ‘new normal’.
People are creatures of habit, and routines offer a way to promote health and wellness through structure and organization. Having a routine can greatly improve your health.
We have made an introduction on how the connection between daily routine and mind can possibly work and the benefit of it, but let’s take a closer look now at the bad side of it.
Many people who don’t have any type of routine suffer from:
- Stress. No routine often means having the constant worry of “when will I get it all done.”
- Poor sleep. Without a daily routine at work and / or home, you may find yourself playing catch-up with yesterday’s to-do list. If you’re always behind on what should have been done the day before, you’re likely also staying awake worrying about what didn’t.
- Poor eating. Unhealthy diets (like eating lots of fast food) become the norm if there isn’t time scheduled for grocery shopping. Quick, unhealthy substitutes become the next best food option.
- Poor physical condition. Working out usually requires some advance planning.
- Ineffective use of time. Often, no routine means you simply run out of time, leaving things undone and not making the most of your time.
Are there only negative aspects?
Does your alarm always ring at the same time? Do you always have dinner at eight o’clock? Do you only go to the gym every other day and never on weekends? Do you always order the same dish when you go to a restaurant? Ok, if you answered yes to at least two of these questions, know that you have entered a routine loop from which it will be difficult to get out but it is important that you do it. Yes, of course, having a daily routine gives you a certain security, allowing you to be able to fit many commitments within the same day, thus giving you the opportunity to complete many more jobs and activities. Despite this, however, there are some important advantages that you could have by shaking your days by giving it that touch of unpredictability that it (and you) miss now.
When we talk about ‘being healthy’ we usually think of the well-being of a snappy, toned and healthy body, completely neglecting how important (if not fundamental) it is also to have a perfectly functioning, receptive and so to speak dynamic mind. After all, the brain, just like any other part of the body, is an organ that needs its daily dose of physical activity to function perfectly, keeping itself young and healthy, lengthening its aging cycle more and more. Living with ‘automatic pilot’ always active on the one hand can certainly be comfortable since it simplifies your life, on the other hand, having a constant and schematized routine atrophies your brain making it work less and less accustoming it to a now standardized mental path.
So yet again, there is not a right or wrong answer involved in a daily routine structure, but what is making a big impact is maintaining certain habits on a daily basis and sometimes change them to keep our brain active, find your balance, and you’ll find the key.