Make Routines Your Friend
“The pleasure of doing a thing in the same way at the same time every day, and savoring it, should be noted.” – Arnold Bennett
Some people loathe routine. Others welcome it. In between these two extremes, however, is a powerful lesson. If you make routines your friend, nothing seems out of line. You can get through the ordinary and mundane and even derive some comfort from the sameness of what you’re doing. The key to mastering this walking the fine line is all in attitude.
Take a minute to think about how good it feels to always know what you’re going to do at a certain time. For example, something as simple as brushing your teeth when you get up. It’s a little thing, to be sure, but acknowledge how squeaky clean your teeth feel after you give them a good brushing. It’s a way to jumpstart your day, something good that you do for yourself. Granted, sometimes you feel like you must rush through the task because you’re late for work or the kids need to be fed or you forgot to put out the trash and the garbage trucks are coming, but it’s still a comforting routine.
Or it can be, if you allow it.
What about the pleasure you feel when you get dressed and look in the mirror and feel pleased about the way you look? You have to put on clothes and this is something you do every day at pretty much the same time. You don’t wear the same things every day, but you do get dressed. The care and attention you put into deciding what you’re going to wear and assembling your wardrobe is another pleasure to savor. It’s not being selfish. It’s being self-aware and proud of your ability to be creative.
What about routine items you really don’t like to do? Take the example of exercise. Maybe you hate to exercise but your doctor has recommended you get involved in a regular exercise regimen to improve your overall health and well-being. Maybe you’re in physical therapy following an accident, surgery or illness. Whatever the reason for regular exercise that you don’t want to do, there’s a way to glean something positive and memorable out of it.
Considering routines, taking exercise as an example, here are some suggestions on how to alter your notion of them from distasteful to desirable.
- Start by acknowledging that this is a good thing for your body and mind. Overall well-being tends to improve with an exercise routine you regularly follow.
- Remind yourself that you’re gaining more than you lose and over time you’ll feel better physically and mentally because you took the time and effort to exercise. Research shows that regular vigorous exercise helps improve mood, ease depression, decrease stress and even help you sleep better.
- Instead of constantly peeking at the clock or your watch to see how much time has elapsed and when you can quit the routine, visualize your body getting stronger, your longevity enhanced, your lungs getting clearer and your skin beginning to glow.
- Relish the opportunity to do your absolute best — even when your best is a bit compromised by illness, recent surgery or injury. Doing your best is the best you can do. This should make you feel proud of your efforts. After all, you put everything into it and deserve to congratulate yourself.
- Add some complexity, vary routines, enlist friends. By putting an additional element into the routine, you’ll add variety and keep from getting bored. Alternate days for certain workouts, play music, exercise in different locations in the house or outside. Ask a friend to join you for a brisk morning walk.
While these tips are for exercise, they can easily be applied to any routine you face. Find the tiniest bit of pleasure in that routine and focus on it. Savor it. Relish the opportunity to be able to do it every day. Knowing that you have this routine to look forward to gives you a purpose. Beyond just something to do, it helps you maintain momentum. Little things mean a lot, including routine. Make routines your friend and you’ll never dread them again.
Kane, S. (2018). Make Routines Your Friend. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 30, 2020, from https://psychcentral.com/blog/make-routines-your-friend/