I am not really a routine person. I am really a go with the flow and see what happens kind of a person. Yet I find so much comfort in my routines. I find that my routines ground me. I like starting my day off on the right foot. I don’t think I’m alone in this because I have seen this helpful for clients as well.
So much of the time we go out in the world and as our day goes on things come up that were not planned. Our car doesn’t start, we are late for a meeting, we forget our lunch, we show up to the dentist and they aren’t open, someone rear-ends us, or our phone starts ringing incessantly. So much is unforeseen and unplanned.
Which means having those routines that center us and re-ground us when things gets crazy can be so helpful for coping. What is it that you do in your life that brings you back to center? Maybe it’s your morning coffee over the paper (people still do that right?), maybe its your morning work out, maybe its prayer, reading or meditation. Whatever it is, be intentional. Choose how you want to start your day (or end your day).
Sure, it can be hard creating new and healthy routines. But if you stick with it, it will get easier!
They did a study on rats, watching their brain activity while they went through a brand new maze. As to be expected, the rats’ brain activity was high the entire time. They then continued to put the rats in the same maze and what they found was that brain activity was high when the rats started the maze, and high when they ended the maze but that brain activity actually dropped quite low for the actual in-between time of running through the maze. How cool is that?!? So yes, starting new routines or habits takes energy and effort but once you get into that routine it gets significantly easier. You have probably found this true in your own life. What habits have you created over your life that got easier as you went on?
You have probably heard it said that it takes 21 days to create a habit. New research is suggesting it really takes 66 days to cement a new habit. So if it takes awhile at first, that’s ok! It takes time. But be assured, that just like with the rat, it will get easier for you too!
Theresa Leskowat MS LPC is a Mental Health Provider in Charlotte, NC. Theresa is also Founder and Owner of Clear Vista Counseling.