State of Mind

THE IMPORTANCE OF ROUTINE FOR YOUR MENTAL WELLBEING

an image for news story The importance of routine for your mental wellbeing

The start of the year is traditionally the time for reflection on the previous year and goal setting for the year ahead, but it can be done anytime. Without routine though, a goal risks becoming a chore, but if you make it a part of your daily life, it simply becomes a new habit.

The problem with routine is that it can sound a bit boring. Whereas spontaneity and surprise bring excitement, ‘routine’ brings up images of strict schedules and lack of fun. Routines are actually really good for us though – they give structure, which benefits our state of mind and helps us stay on track and feel safe and secure. When things are more predictable, we are more present, mindful and grounded (1).

What are the benefits of routine for our mental health?

Meaningfulness. Routine gives life meaning. In fact researchers have found that people who engage in routines have a higher sense of purpose in life (2).

Efficiency. The old saying that practice makes perfect can be applied to life. Routines make us more efficient at what we do as repeating actions makes us better at them.

Structure. When we know what to expect, we are better prepared and worry less. Knowing what to expect provides a calming flow to our lives.

Momentum. When we become skilled and proficient at something, psychologically we feel a sense of achievement. As routines become habits, they get easier – motivating us to strive further and become even better.

Priority. Routines give priority to things that really are important to us. We build a routine around our values and self-care, creating space for the things that matter most.

Healthy habits. A routine is a key component of healthy living. When we do something each day, we’re forming habits that become an integral part of how we live and who we are.

How can we go about establishing healthy routines?

An ideal time to implement them is at the start or end of your day when it’s easier to focus. Why not vow to reduce time looking at your smartphone, TV, laptop and tablet, and avoid social media and the news for the first fifteen minutes after you wake? This gives you the opportunity to be more mindful and present to your family, your home and yourself. Enjoy a five-minute stretch to your back and upper shoulders before bed and take time to slow your breath as you attempt to empty your mind.

The great things about routines is that they don’t have to be complicated or too different from what you’re already doing to bring about health benefits to our daily lives.

[1] Mind: The importance of routine

[2] Heintzelman, Samantha J., and Laura A. King. “Routines and Meaning in Life.” Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, vol. 45, no. 5, Sept. 2018, pp. 688–699., doi:10.1177/0146167218795133.

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