It's been a long while since we've underestimated the importance of having a proper routine. We've termed it as something that old people do. Having a routine is frowned upon by most of the youngsters, thinking that it's something that they don't need to know because they're young! We think that we're supposed to have sleepless nights to study or binge watch or game, etc. We're supposed to eat at irregular timings, constantly eat junk, reject healthy food and or home cooked food, not maintain personal hygiene, ignore timings, etc. But that's not how anyone should be living. No one!
Because it's a series of bad habits, bad practices, and bad beliefs that lead to habitual harmful activities which involves bad decision making, laziness and hence delay in work, delayed or no productivity at the workplace, lifestyle choices, etc. We don't realise how much we hurt our mind and body. We don't realise that, by not perpetuating and following productive habits, we're actually cultivating a long term & probably a lifetime of unhealthy lifestyle choices! We don't realise that we're devoid of a lot of amazing choices, that can make a massive difference within ourselves and in our relationships with others.
We've brought ourselves to believe that we deserve certain choices and most of those are based on what others in our life are doing. We forget that compliance with everything and everyone can prove to be hazardous for oneself. Compliance is a social habit that one develops and gets used to, in order to 'fit in', to be socially desirable and to be seen as someone who is a part of the society. Often what happens is that, in order to comply, we don't pay attention to what profits us, personally. And this is also a part of us that hinders our growth, and affects our habits, in general. The earlier we fix our decisions and habits and follow a good routine, the better it gets for us in the long run. And this isn't just about physical health. Yes, the physical benefits include being well in shape, having a better immunity (specially if you've gotten your tests done and are following supplements regularly as well as maintaining your levels), and even maintaining a good digestive system!
But this is also about our mental health!
A lot of times, we face physical difficulties like an upset stomach and we don't realise that it does affect our moods. Increased irritation, anger at some points, frustration, etc. All this because we don't feel well!
Sometimes, when our vitamin levels drop or are imbalanced, we might experience symptoms that we don't even realise. For eg: Vitamin B12 deficiency leads to memory loss, fatigue, forgetfulness, excessive sleeping habits due to constant exhaustion (both physically and mentally), depressive symptoms or even depression. We do not understand what is happening to us?, What went wrong?, Why are we feeling constantly drained by everything?, Why are we unable to cope with stress at all (even lesser than we used to)?, Why are we feeling low, all the time? Why don't we feel physically and mentally fit? And many such questions pop in our minds but we're unable to join the dots. Also, when someone else does that for us, we're often in denial. That's mostly because of lack of information, and the disbelief that the solution is highly doable specially after just a little push. This comes from personal experience - little steps towards self, go a long way!
Here's where routines step in! When we design and decide our everyday lives, keep certain timings strict (like sleeping, waking up, proper meals, exercise, work time, etc), and follow it, we slowly and gradually get into a habit and then following it becomes easier.
You even start self motivation when the results are quite visible and constant. You even start finding time for yourself and your recreation activities ( hobbies and skills etc), you automatically feel more active than before. As you get healthier and fit you can cope better with your situations.
In fact, when you have a routine, you even have activities to look forward to, or complete. There's never a day when you feel like there's nothing to do or that you're lost. Passing time doesn't feel as stressful as before (specially in quarantine, when all days are mundane). You must have heard of how is everyone struggling to be fine and find new things to do, or even finding it difficult to perform their daily tasks. That is because they were never used to doing what they are now forced to do. When one develops a habit, a routine, or a schedule, they know exactly what to do and how, and are even able to find ways of doing the same things in a different way.
Off course taking breaks from your routine are necessary. It helps to refresh and lay back a little. Personally, I do like taking breaks from my routine. I take time for myself regularly, but when I’m on a break from my routine, I even enjoy doing absolutely nothing that day! I don’t wash the utensils, I don’t do the clothes, I don’t cook, nothing. And I feel great the next day and all geared up to get back to my routine and following my schedule of working out, having healthy meals, completing work commitments, taking out some time for myself while having tea, etc. That’s how far planning goes. It makes everything easier.
Well, all this was about how do habits develop, and how does routine work and help. Let's get to know about how can we maintain it and push ourselves!
Start by realising, acknowledging and accepting the need of a routine.
Once that's done, design a routine for yourself. It can be a rough one too.
Follow it strictly so that you know what works and doesn't work for you. Don't forget to make notes of it.
Make practical changes in your routine based on your notes.
Make sure that it includes fixed and good timings (not the ones like lunch at 4:00pm!) for sleep, food and workout.
Go step by step if you wish to - follow your sleep timings first, then food and then workout, if that helps you to push yourself better.
Remember that it's important to follow the routine in all situations and laziness must be kept at bay, by constantly pushing yourself to at least start. Once you start, it's easier to continue.
You can even maintain a dairy to note the changes that the routine brings to you. Going through that might contribute to your motivation and dedication.
Now all those steps sure look very easy to do. They are, but not initially. The reason being that we're breaking our old bad habits and forming new ones in this schedule. It takes time for us to get used any change that we make, whether It's physically or mentally. And this concentrates on both!
There's one thing that I can vouch for, and that's the positive and constructive effects of these changes on our lives. Not only do we get healthier, but also start feeling better and better.
I urge all of you to start taking these little yet important steps towards your mental and physical health. I've done it, it took a couple of months, but I'm super satisfied with the results today! And for those of you who already have a good schedule / routine, cheers to you and congratulations on building a good life!
- Piyusha Pande