As the new year gets underway many are embarking on a journey to reach their goals and targets to achieve their resolutions. Even for those of which have everything all figured out it can still prove a little tough to get started or keep up momentum beyond the new years day hangover or the first gruelling week. Due to this I wanted to do something a little different with my Monday’s posts and for the month of January I’m introducing ‘Motivational Monday’s!’ with the aim to offer a little inspiration to both myself and anybody who may be struggling. I will have a different topic each Monday throughout the month and today’s focus is on routines; the benefits, establishing them and keeping them!
You could be seeking a routine for many reasons, maybe you have young children and want to establish or reinforce their routines, or you could be finding your life chaotic at best due to never really knowing where you’re going or what you’re doing at different times, maybe it’s effecting your fitness or weight due to eating at crazy times when physical activity is complete for the day, skipping meals or opting for ready meals full of sugars and fats because you find yourself running out of time. A huge one for me is having a sleeping pattern and if you read my recent post ‘Reach your Resolutions’ then you will already know this is one of my 2016 resolutions and something that I endlessly struggle with. I find myself feeling lathargic almost constantly and whilst this is due to a build up of many factors, the fact that I don’t have an appropriate amount of sleep and an extremely erratic pattern is a large part of this. It doesn’t matter what it is you’re striving to achieve, a routine is beneficial for so many reasons, such as the following:
Improves sleeping patterns
By going to bed and waking up at the same time every day it conditions your body into doing this on auto pilot. Once this habit has become a fixed routine you need not worry about your alarm failing to go off in the morning because chances are you’ve woken up naturally anyway! Having an effective sleeping pattern has positive effects on the mind and mental health due to ensuring you’ve had both a sufficient amount of shut eye and a good quality rest.
Positive effects on the metabolism
By having set mealtimes and not eating anything in the last 3 – 4 hours before bed you’re more able to work off your meal before the day is over. This is beneficial because whilst we sleep our bodies aren’t able to burn fat as fast as when we’re awake and active, which to me sounds pretty much a given. Having a routine means you can plan your mealtimes and time for exercise at optimal times in the day of which will provide greater benefits.
De-clutters the mind & takes away the need to plan
When you have a routine in place of which works well chances are you will need less to-do lists! Due to having basic everyday tasks and plans such as grocery shopping, housework and/or going to the gym mapped out already this then removes the need to remind yourself. Anything routine will be done automatically taking away deliberation over what needs doing next and how many tasks are left to do because it’s already fixed. This will help to remove clutter from our thoughts and promote peace of mind.
Increased productivity, boosts efficiency & creates more free time
Everything is on auto-pilot, so why sit around and wait? You know what you have to do therefore you get it done ten times quicker than usual, giving the opportunity to get more done or have extra free time! Who can say that they wouldn’t want that?
Reinforces new habits
It’s said that it takes 60 – 100 days of doing something to make a new habit stick, by adding something into our daily routine it’s much more likely that we will become so used to the change that the habit will stay put. This is great news for new years resolutions!
Less need for motivation as a driving force
Rather than having to psyche yourself up to do a task, you just do it! Our brain becomes so used to the routine that anything different would seem abnormal. Even things we don’t like doing just get done because that’s how it always is, making chores seem less of a gruelling battle too!
Once you set up effective routines of which work well and serve the purpose of setting in stone any great new habits you wish to create it then releases the snowball. Once you have established a well working routine it proves to you that it’s achievable, if you can add new positive habits into your life then you’ll be able to add many more in time. The routine shows that it’s attainable whilst providing a sense of purpose and achievement. This promotes you to continue introducing positivity into your life and motivates improved decision making in other situations.
So with that said now for the hard part, how do we establish and keep our routines? First you need to figure out what it is you actually want to change, you will have a much better chance of this becoming habit if it’s something you WANT to change rather than a simple ‘should’ change. Start off small also, once you’ve mastered something small then you can start building onto that and adding more things in, the risk with adding too much too soon or throwing in a really hard habit to master is that you’ll relinquish easier than had you set a smaller and more easily attainable goal to start with. When we experience set backs it’s often much more difficult to try again for fear of failure, even if this happens – don’t give in! Once you have acknowledged what it is that you wish to change you then need to think about the ways in which you will be implementing this, then set yourself reminders. These reminders can either be alarms on your phone if you are wanting to do something at a set time, putting things where they’re clearly visible minimising the chance of forgetting or writing yourself a list and/or notes. With notes you can pin them up where they’re most visible in order for a clear permanent reminder. Don’t underestimate the power of imagination either, it’s been proven that people who are able to see themselves achieving their tasks and the final goal are usually more sucessful in the endeavour. You have to really want it.
Once you have got going you then need to stick to the new routine consistently every day for it to eventually become a habit. I’ve found a really good way of keeping in line with my recent changes are to reflect on what’s going well for me and keeping a note of this in my daily journal – this way I can ammend anything which isn’t as great meaning that it’s easier for me to continue, another HUGE tip is to make yourself accountable. By this I mean telling a close friend or family member, joining an online forum specific to the task/routine or posting it publicly on a blog. I did this with my new years resolutions and it instantly motivates you to stick at it once other people know of your plan because none of us want to fail publicly, do we? For greater propulsion you could work on this change with a friend, for example exercising together. Finally, allow your routine to have flexibility because we don’t have control over everything in life, often something can happen which will throw a spanner in the works and disrupt your routine, this will then probably serve to make you angry with yourself when there is nobody at fault to begin with. Rigid routines are more likely to break, just do the best that you can and even if it doesn’t work out you have plenty of time to continue trying. We’re all human and all we can ever do is give things a chance, there’s no such thing as failure unless you completely give in.
I’ve recently made quite a few changes to my routine such as introducing a new sleeping pattern, being more aware of my diet and adding in a dash of physical activity. Although we’re currently only four days into 2016 I’ve already noticed positive effects from these changes and I’m loving every minute of it. These are all things I really hope that I’ll continue with because so far it really has just been amazing and will improve my life drastically. My main challenge will come when I’m back at work and have a range of shifts to contend with, I’m staying positive though and maintaining hope that this time I’ll tackle these tasks head on! Do you wish you could change something about your routine? Why don’t you leave a message in the comments letting me know what it is, we may be able to help one another by being an added source of support! As always thank you for reading, I hope this post has helped in some way and good luck with your endeavours.
Disaster Davis x