Looking at which posts have been most popular here, it seems as though my routine posts go down pretty well. From evening routines (a Sunday routine and after-work routine) to morning routines (morning routine to set you for a healthier, happier day), we all seem to love having a plan of action.
And I’m pleased these posts do well, I find it fascinating how everyone’s routines are different. But recently I had some thoughts on routines, and felt like I needed to share.
The overriding thought is – they don’t have to be set in stone.
Once I’ve set up a ‘routine’ in my head, I can find it quite difficult to stray from it. I like having boundaries and knowing what I have to tick off my list. Even today, a day when I promised myself I would make no plans, I couldn’t resist making a quick to-do list (wash bed sheets, write blog, break for lunch, plan Instagram pictures….).
I like having a sense of guidance and feel a little lost without this structure. And this is all well and good, but I came to realise recently that I simply have to be more flexible with my routines.
The crunch point came when I was having therapy for anxiety (CBT) and my therapist asked what my current after-work / wind-down routine looked like (which incidentally has changed since I wrote my “wind-down routine” blog).
I explained that it now looked like this:
- Make-up off
- Yoga, meditation
(so far so good)
- Laptop open, do some blog work until bed time
Hmm. The look on her face said everything. “Working on your blog is part of your wind-down routine?” she asked, I laughed nervously and said, “Huh, yeah…I guess it is.” I also barely took any evenings or weekends off.
I immediately changed that. I now come home from work, spend an hour or so doing blog-related work, then do some yoga, meditate, watch TV, read – relax! I also give myself Friday nights and one day at the weekend off.
Getting stuck in routines
Once we get into a routine, for better or worse, we can become stuck to it. And the thing is, we’re always changing. Our priorities are always changing. And so our routines should change with us.
And, importantly, we shouldn’t beat ourselves up about them changing. I totally dropped my morning gym routine at the end of summer – it simply fell off my list of priorities and was the right decision at the time.
I had a few moments, of “Oh I really need to get back to the gym” but I showed myself compassion. I was doing more yoga and meditation – and that’s what I needed. Now I’m feeling more on top of things, I’m excited about bringing back my routine of going to the gym in the morning.
How can we be more flexible in our routines?
Being aware of when they’re no longer working for us is key. We can usually tell this when we’re feeling overwhelmed.
The fact that I was having therapy for stress and anxiety should have told me my ‘wind-down’ routine was out of whack, but hey – I guess sometimes saying it outloud to someone is necessary.
But of course, waiting until we feel overwhelmed isn’t really an ideal situation.
My advice to keep a sense of awareness would be to mark a time in your calendar (maybe once a month) when you can sit down and ask yourself the following questions:
- What is my current morning / evening / weekend routine?
- How do I feel after I do this?
- Is there anything in there I feel is weighing me down or that simply isn’t serving me anymore?
- Is there anything I only do because I feel obliged to do and beat myself up for missing? How would I feel if I tried just not doing that thing?
- Is there anything I could add in that would make me feel better?
Stepping back and assessing the situation regularly may sound like an extra thing to add to your to-do list, but if you’re a stickler for a routine and tend to get stuck in them like me, I really think it’s worth it.
Not quite the simple “do this routine to feel better” post that we all know and love, but hopefully a more sustainable and helpful post. How do you maintain your routines? Or do you prefer to go sans routine? What is THAT like?
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