A surprising way to invite more calm into your life is routines. Most of us understand routines as something we set up for children to make sure they get rest, feel safe and do the things they need to do to learn.
Routines are for adults too. They give your brain a much-needed rest. There’s no need to think about routines. You just do them.
When you then switch to an activity requiring more brain power, your brain is much more alert and efficient.
Do you hate routines?
As you’re reading this, you may be thinking:
- What routines?!
- I don’t really have many routines.
- I would rather be spontaneous and let life surprise me.
You may discover you have a part of you that rebels when another part of you you tries to impose “rules.”
Many of my clients have this part. They’re debilitated by their anxiety, and yet a part of them does not want routines. Even if those routines could make them feel more comfortable, such as a specific bedtime routine at a specific time.
Does that sound like you? If yes, stop right here and get to know this resisting part. Otherwise it will keep pushing to lie on the sofa late into the night with your best friend, Netflix.
Get curious toward this part of you and find where it is less resistant. For example, maybe you can start with morning routines instead of late night ones.
Remind your resisting part that routines are just one of the building blocks of life, another being playfulness and spontaneity. Both need to be in your life.
How to get started with routines
Routines might be just the adjustment we need to feel more energized.
Start simple. Notice the patterns and routines you already have. Such as:
- Brushing your teeth in the morning and at night
- Taking a shower in the morning or at night
If you’re not already doing these, can you add them in?
- Eat three meals a day that are spaced out. Have an afternoon snack if you eat a late evening meal.
- Observe when you feel more lethargic or tired. Here is where you would put in a quick nap, iRest, or stroll around the park.
Routines are especially important at home.
Make your home a safe and predictable place
Every day we step into a world that can be unpredictable and unsafe. That’s why it’s important to make your home a place you return each day that feels safe and predictable, where your needs are easily met (by you).
When your home is your haven, it helps you feel more relaxed and readier to meet new challenges and experiences.
Some ideas for creating a safe and predictable place:
- Take the time to clean up and declutter
- Have food in your home that you can easily prepare when tired
- Have clean clothes where you can always find them
- Put your keys and phone in the same place all the time
- If aesthetics soothes you then make your safe space “pretty”
For me, waking up in the morning to a clean kitchen with clean dishes helped give me the right start to my day. I felt more like I was beginning my day rather than cleaning up yesterday’s mess.
I hate taking the time at night to clean my kitchen. But I love how I feel when I wake up to a clean kitchen.
Where does consistency fit into your life?
Maybe your routines aren’t timebound. I knew a women who decided to wear only black and white clothes to work. This decision made getting dressed and ready for work much easier.
The way you say goodbye to your loved ones before you leave for work is important, too. If you tend to experience the Sunday night “fear” or the Monday morning “blues,” having a goodbye ritual can help you move from your loving home to the working world.
Interruptions to our routines are stressful…even if they are called ”vacations”
You are the one who is soothed and calmed by routines so you still need them on vacation. Maybe even more so if you’re sharing your vacation time with others.
Before the vacation starts think about or talk over with others what kind of vacation routines could support each of you.
Accept it: some stress is inevitable because the regular routines are disrupted. Meet the stress with non-judgment and slowing down. What is your need behind the frustration?
Combine your vacation routines with flexibility. If your chosen vacation schedule isn’t working, notice the tension and then bend it around to feel better.
Routines in our life help our brain to rest and renew. So that you can meet those challenges and excitements with enthusiasm and vigor.
“2015-01-16 Morning routines — index card #life #routines” by Flickr user Sacha Chua is licensed under CC BY 2.0.