You probably have a routine right? Most of us have a basic routine in life, we have regular tasks to complete, workplaces, people we need to interact with on a daily basis. We belong to a gyms, have classes to attend or meetings to sit in on. Then of course there’s family routines and everything that goes hand in hand with that, all of which, of course, is perfectly standard but what lies outside of our routines?
Sometimes we can become so entrenched in our everyday that we forget that it can be fun to be a bit unpredictable and spontaneous. Setting our lives to a constant repeat cycle means we don’t always see the opportunities that can await us on the other side of routine.
Of course, there are the things in our lives that we must attend to on a daily basis, (try telling my cat he’s not being fed at 7am). We can’t suddenly get wildly unpredictable, leaving people in the lurch or rolling into work when we please.
Routine has the benefit of providing us with structure and with that comes a level of comfort and security. It also brings balance to our busy days and helps us to juggle our priorities and commitments. If you have kids you’ll know that they often need thrive on routine but that doesn’t mean we have to religiously stick with it to the point we don’t find the time for new things.
Even though having a routine can be good for us in many ways, it does helps to take stock every now – check-in to see if life has become a little too monotonous and if the stuff we’re doing has become a routine borne more out of habit than necessity.
Sometimes our lives can get too ‘cosy slippers’ and while on one hand that can be comforting, it can also keep us from seeking new experiences. When we become very rigid in daily patterns we can miss out on opportunities that are good for our growth and development and we can forget how fun it is to be spontaneous.
Are you living life on autopilot?
When we spend a long time doing the same thing day in day it can dampen down our sense of curiosity, adventure and exploration. We can find ourselves on autopilot and not paying enough attention to what’s going on around us- have you ever driven a familiar route then realised you can’t actually remember anything that happened between your destinations?
The same thing can happen in all areas of our lives, we can forget to pay full attention to our bodies, interactions, emotions and relationships. We don’t necessarily feel the need to expand our horizons, keep our relationships fresh, learn a new skill or meet new people. We become a little de-sensitised to our environment doing tasks and interacting with little conscious thought instead of giving them our full attention.
When this happens our daily lives can sometimes become a bit of a grind; the predictability creating a sense of boredom. We become uninspired, unnoticed and unmotivated or feel like we’re stuck in that groundhog day scenario where everyday is repeat of the same old same.
It affects the brain too…
By repeating the same actions over and over and slipping into that autopilot mode our brains do become less stimulated. Although being in this mode can be helpful for the brain to switch off, giving the prefrontal cortex a rest from constantly processing stuff – without it we’d probably have some kind of cranial combustion! However, the repetition of set daily tasks that require very little conscious thought means that the old same neural pathways are used over and over meaning our brains aren’t really challenged or given a good workout.
Why changing up our routine is good for you:
When we change up our routine it starts to broadens our horizons, introduces us to new experiences and people, increases our learning and brings a new refreshing energy into our lives- as they say ‘a change is as good as a rest‘.
Creating flexibility in our routine can helps us to become more spontaneous, be more adaptable and adjust our sails according to the winds. Having this adaptability and being more flexible in our daily life means that we can respond more intuitively to challenges when they arise. It also gives us the opportunity to be get more creative with our solutions because we are not operating from within such rigid structure.
Stepping away from routine can help us to recognise that some patterns of behaviour and habits are no longer serving us well and may even be holding us back from moving towards a more fulfilling life. It also has the wonderful advantage of injecting a bit of va va voom back into life.
Engaging in new activities, learning new skills and exploring new concepts is great for our brains too- boosting our cognitive functions, building new neural pathways and helping to keep us sharp.
How to find space in your routine for new things:
Do you find yourself claiming you just done’t have the time for new stuff? Well, first make a list of all the things you routinely do on a daily, weekly and monthly basis then ask yourself..
What responsibilities, commitments and tasks are non -negotiable?
What can I let go of?
What can I change up?
These simple questions will help you to clarify what it is a priority in your life, what you can areas you can make some changes in and when you can find pockets of time.
Now you are ready to something different into you life- Why not try this..
Simple ways to change your routine:
- Have something different for breakfast at least 3 times a week.
- Volunteer to help out at a local event.
- Take up a new pastime- learn to knit, draw, play an instrument etc
- Attend a talk, event or seminar that will inspire you.
- Try a new dish at your favorite restaurant – pick a different pizza topping!
- Read a book or listen to music from a different genre.
- Cook a new dish every week.
- Sign up for a new class/course.
- Visit somewhere new – you’ll be amazed how many local places you’ve never been!
What can you add to this list?
Photo credit https://unsplash.com/@imchenyf
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