A Routine for Everything?
Do you feel that your life is governed by routines? I think most of us would say that this is the case. On average, we get up in the morning, head off to work or school, or begin our day in some other predictable way. But what happens when those routines get stood on their figurative heads and everything changes?
For example, many people exercise and eat healthfully during the week, but get off track during the weekends and feel discouraged each Monday. Nearly everyone has stories of times where their routines changed completely. Maybe it was a holiday or a vacation, but those average, weekday routines seem to disappear. Maybe a new baby or a new dog joined the family, or any one of a number of life-changing events brought about newer, longer-lasting routines.
If routines are the best ways to build lasting healthy habits, is there a way to not get so off-track while still having fun and enjoying life? The answer may surprise you. Simply ask yourself a question, and establish more situation-based routines.
The question is simple but vitally important -- How do I want to feel? Once you know the answer, you can build a routine that will help you get there. If possible, it's preferable to ask this question before you find yourself in the middle of a new situation. If this isn't possible, try to do this at a time when you are thinking clearly but realistically.
Perhaps the easiest way to explain this is to share three of my routines as they relate to getting enough exercise.
My general routine, the default I return to day in and day out, is to work out for about an hour and to get in ten thousand steps each day. This usually involves walking and some weights. I do this because, in answer to the above question, I want to feel strong and healthy, and I want to live a long full life.
Occasionally, despite my best efforts, I don't sleep well. This seems to be a recurring problem for those with vision loss, but I think everyone can relate. If I've only slept about four hours a night, I've likely been lying there while my brain is active, even though I'm physically tired. Asking myself how I want to feel is more of a challenge, because I'm starting the day at a disadvantage. However, I don't want to feel exhausted, and I don't want to feel like I've wasted the day in a stupor. Because my brain is wide awake on days like these, I'll go with it. Instead of walking for an hour, I'll walk for about fifteen minutes, which is long enough to lubricate my joints, get my blood pumping, and clear out any remaining cobwebs. Then, I get straight to work and follow through on tasks I must do or on those options my mind was busy exploring while I was not sleeping. I'll repeat my shorter walks throughout the day so that I've still put in that hour. By breaking it up, I've infused my day with some much-needed bouts of energy that also help with my mental clarity.
Finally, I plan routines for my vacations. To some, this might seem obsessive, but to me, it makes perfect sense. After all, why would you spend the time and money on a vacation without doing what you could to make sure you felt great? For me, this means going to bed and getting up on something resembling my normal schedule. I find that when I don't do this, I can easily sleep most of the day and stay up all night. This makes getting back into my regular routine even harder and brings on those "I need a vacation after my vacation" feelings. I do my best to not let my sleep schedule drift more than two hours in any direction. I can also easily get into a routine of almost no activity. This isn't good for me once I get back into the swing of things, and it's not good for me while on vacation either. I can skip one day, but by day two, I have energy to spare, and those around me are threatening to cut off my caffeine... permanently! Still, this is a vacation, and even bodies need a rest. I make sure to walk for 30 minutes and/or to get in 5000 steps a day - half of my normal daily goal. Vacations can provide opportunities to be sedentary, as well as opportunities for being active. When I remind myself of how I like to feel, it will motivate me to suggest we walk to get our treat of ice cream instead of driving.
By having routines for the various kinds of days we might encounter, we might not be able to insure that we feel great 100 percent of the time, but we come closer than if we had no routines at all.
In an upcoming blog post, we'll discuss ways to put some pizzazz into your daily workout. After all, just because it's routine, it doesn't have to be mundane. If you have any thoughts on this, or any of our posts, we'd love to have you interact with us on our Facebook group.