Getting up, checking social media, working, shopping, cooking, watching TV, sleeping. You know, one of those daily laughs that seems to repeat itself week after week. It’s not really good for mental health, but what can you do to break the daily routines?
We humans follow a routine very well. Psychotherapist Hannah Martin also confirms this to our British Subway-coworkers. These routines give us security and safety, and our brain likes that. They reduce the pressure to make decisions and change. In addition, they work to help you sleep better, reduce anxiety and even improve our mood, says Martin. Therapist and mental health expert Ngozi Cadmus also explains that routines provide stability in our unpredictable and uncertain world. And according to psychiatrist Eric Berne, routines are the means to avoid boredom. In short, it is not surprising that we value structure in our time.
Are you sticking to the routines too hard?
But when one strictly and compulsively adheres to routines, this eventually becomes a habit and the life of a person eventually becomes predictable. Experts emphasize the balance between routine and freedom and the importance of letting go every now and then. But how do you create a flexible routine?
According to psychotherapist Martin, deep-rooted routines can make you overlook new challenges or relationships. “Or you’re missing out on other opportunities to grow,” she says. In addition, Martin warns that ingrained routines can ultimately increase feelings of anxiety. “Because what happens when something disrupts your routine?” Therapist Cadmus explains that there is little room for “curiosity, excitement and awe” within tight schedules and timetables, and this is where autopilot mode lurks.
Changes outside the comfort zone
Because Martin emphasizes that emotional growth and resilience comes from trying new things. “And also dealing with failures.” The psychotherapist therefore recommends examining your own routines and asking yourself a number of questions. What routines do you enjoy on a daily basis? Your first cup of coffee in the morning or perhaps an hour of exercise on Wednesday afternoon? According to Martin, it is advisable to ask yourself how you feel about the routine and what they bring to your life.
And here it goes: “If a routine feels restrictive, or if you panic at the thought of missing the routine, it may be time to rethink the routine.” The psychotherapist therefore encourages routines to be adapted from time to time or even completely deleted. Are your routines denying you opportunities? Are you too comfortable or does it inhibit personal growth, new relationships or talents? Then, according to Martin, it can be valuable to gain new experiences. “Out of your comfort zone.”
You can never go wrong with the following routines:
- Exercise and stay active daily
- Enough sleep
- Take a break
- A balanced diet
- Set realistic goals
- Being aware of your feelings and thoughts (even if it feels uncomfortable or difficult)
- Prepare for challenges (but don’t get too caught up in things you can’t control)
- Contact with friends and family
- Make time for activities you enjoy
Martin emphasizes that you don’t have to agree with the ‘that’s it’ feeling. If something doesn’t make you happy or fulfilling, you better change it. “Think about your mental health and what you need to be healthy and happy, and build your routines around that. Choose activities that help you stay physically fit and healthy, activities that help you calm and soothe your mind, and activities that challenge you and meet your social needs,” says the psychotherapist. “Instead, think of your week as a collection of both routine and random experiences, and consciously design the life you want.”
Tips for breaking up everyday life at work
Being stuck in routines is not conducive to creativity either, as the artist Furrah Syed also agrees with. She also has a number of tips to break the daily routine:
- Choose carefully who you will and will not work with
- Keep an eye out for new and exciting projects
- Accept new challenges
- Plan days to craft or create. Always on a different day or part of the day
- Keep your brain alert by sometimes changing things at the last minute. It challenges you to find a solution from a different perspective.
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