Aristotle once said, “We are what we repeatedly do.” A habit is an often unconscious action, such as going to the gym each morning, that you do on a consistent, repetitive basis. Routines are conscious ways of doing things repetitively and in a specific order, like making your coffee, then brushing your teeth, getting dressed and making your bed every morning before you leave the house to go to the gym. Routines are often made up of many habits, or action steps taken towards accomplishing a particular goal.
Habitual Actions and a Successful Life
According to a study published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), good daily habits during the early stages of life determine success throughout life. Conversely, the research found that poor daily habits of modern society lead to negative behaviors such as quitting jobs and dropping out of school. These poor daily habits include limited exercise and sleep. Self-control and self-discipline are the foundation for establishing good habits and developing healthy routines that support success. Some of the most successful people in our society, including presidents, entrepreneurs, writers, and actors, achieved greatness by establishing morning routines to help direct their days.
Beginning the Day With Purpose and Consistency
Actress, producer, and business-woman Jennifer Aniston wakes up at 4:30 am, washes her face, and then meditates for up to 20 minutes. She enjoys a protein shake and then exercises for up to an hour, with the only inconsistency being what particular type of workout she chooses each day. The widely-known talk show host and entrepreneur, Oprah Winfrey starts her mornings with up to 20 minutes of meditation as well, followed by a minimum of 15 minutes on the treadmill, after which she enjoys a healthy breakfast. Famous writer, Stephen King has a specific set of habits that make up his writing routine in the morning. First, he drinks a glass of water or a cup of tea, after which he puts on some music and sits down in the same seat, always arranging the papers on his desk in the same way. The cumulative purpose of these habits creates a routine in which he sets his mind up to write his imaginative stories. Developing a routine can help create a sense of manageability in life. Consequently, routines can help people cope with a multitude of experiences, including change, stress, and mental health in a positive way.
The Power of Routines
Routines Serve as an Anchor
Routines can anchor us in daily life. Having breakfast at the same time each morning, as well as eating dinner and going to bed around the same time each night creates comfort and stability. When we are in on top of our routines, life feels easier to handle. This sense of manageability allows us to cope with unpredictable changes.
Routines Give Us a Roadmap
Furthermore, routines reduce stress levels. Everyone has a “to do” list, or things they wish to accomplish either daily or in general in their lives. It can be overwhelming to keep this list bottled up in our minds. When our day follows a routine, we eliminate the need for excessive brain power as we no longer need to think so hard about every little thing we have to accomplish. It provides us with a roadmap to follow and decreases stress by promoting feelings of order and direction.
Routines Promote Positive Self-Care Habits
Routines help us to create positive daily habits that promote self-care. We can organize our time around things that we deem important to maintain happiness and feelings of fulfillment. Relaxation techniques like meditation and yoga, and going to bed at a regular time to promote well-being are things we make the time for that become part of our routine.
Routines Support Healthy Sleep Cycles
Creating a sleep routine is just as important as having a morning routine. Sleep is crucial to our mental, physical, and psychological well-being. When we consistently go to bed and wake up around the same time, our bodies develop a sleep-wake cycle that makes it easier for us to fall asleep, improves the quality of our sleep and promotes an easier waking experience.
Routines Sustain Positive Diet and Exercise Habits
Maintaining a healthy diet and within our daily routines is vital to mental, physical, and psychological health. Blocking out time to buy groceries, prep and cook healthy meals is easily inserted into a daily routine. Researching recipes and experimenting with foods can even become a fun hobby.
Creating routines around exercise and physical activity is an individual process due to differing interests. Some people prefer to play sports, while others look forward to yoga or time spent in the gym. Individualized routines allow us to prioritize things that are important to us and carve out time to engage in these activities. As a result, we support our ability to seek out what motivates us and practice it consistently.
The Evolution of Routine
The consistency and individualized nature of our routines allow us to fit all of our most important things into our days. However, this does not mean we must stick with a routine when we begin feeling stuck or bored, as this can do more harm than good. Learning to adjust and build upon our routines is a necessary point of growth. Change is part of life, and we can allow our routines to evolve over time in response to it.
When Routine Is Lacking
Routines create structure and promote mental, physical and emotional health. The absence of a routine can often lead to stress and feelings of unmanageability. Self-medication is a common response to these feelings. Unfortunately, using drugs and/or alcohol to deal with the stressors of daily life can lead to subsequent addictions. Creating daily routines in the morning and at bedtime can create structure in our unpredictable lives and, therefore, protect against harmful stressors and triggers that can lead us down unhealthy paths.
Routines may serve as a barrier to developing an addiction. Once an addiction has been formed, the implementation of routines plays a significant role in the journey towards recovery. At Fort Worth Recovery, we recognize the importance of routine as a tool to promote well-being and support long-term sobriety. We offer a safe and nurturing space to explore the root causes of addiction and practice new, healthy coping mechanisms that will propel you forward on your path towards a new life. If you or someone you know is struggling with an addiction to drugs or alcohol, call us today at 817-381-9741.