Some people might find doing the same thing over and over again boring, tedious and demotivational.
Following the same routine, walking the same route, eating the same lunch each day might appear unimaginative and tedious, and indeed, it might be perceived as such by some.
But others appreciate that having a familiar framework provides a comfortable backdrop from where to intermittently enjoy the nuances and subtleties of each day.
They relax in the security of what they’ve come to expect and are then able to appreciate any changes that crop up; the differences on their walk, new people to speak to or the ever-changing seasons.
Sometimes it’s good to have change, but a familiar framework with minimal upheaval, can also be good, especially during busy or stressful times in life. That way it’s easier to switch off whilst doing the filing or housework and pleasantly anticipate the same sandwich for lunch or smile because it’s Tuesday and Shepherd’s pie is on the menu tonight for supper.
Dropping into comfortable familiarity is a reassuring way of coping with periods of overwhelm and situations where we feel we’ve no control. Routine can help us ease stress levels by training the body and mind as to what to expect. And, daily routines, like preparing for bed and sleep, really benefit from cultivating a regular wind-down sequence.
It can be fun to be spontaneous and grab unexpected opportunities whenever they present themselves, but, equally, the routine provides a familiar, recognisable backdrop to our lives and ensures that our default allows us to function in an efficient way.
We can’t be full-on, completely focussed and engaged 24/7, otherwise, we’d be exhausted by midday.
When we’re performing regular, routine tasks they enable us to drift into an auto-pilot state. Doing so helps us conserve a little mental focus and energy. It’s important not to be fully, totally focused and concentrating all the time, or there’s a risk of burnout. Routine provides order to our lives and enables certain important functions to be carried out almost unthinkingly.
For many of us, it helps to be clear about what we need to do in order to reach work on time, meet deadlines, keep appointments, go to the gym, connect with friends, attend important classes or hobbies. Doing the same thing, every day, can motivate us to do what needs to be done, because these items are scheduled, ingrained and effectively booked into the diary as stepping-stones, like clockwork!
Routine motivates us on the days when we’re tired or can’t be bothered. It helps us automatically get out of bed, dressed and off to work or the gym. It provides structure and allows us to switch off a little as we undertake regular, routine duties, like making a drink or travelling somewhere familiar. Not every task requires us to be fully focussed and engaged and indeed, some tasks lull us into a trance state as we drift into the familiar, repetitiveness of them.
This auto-pilot state comes about because we’re performing trance-inductive acts that we may be able to do in our sleep.
How often have you been driving somewhere new whilst following a familiar route, only to find yourself almost ending up at your old destination?
Even if we become bored with our routine, there can be a relevance to coping with that boredom. We don’t need every moment to be exciting, crazily busy or require our full attention. In fact, sometimes being still is good as it allows our adrenalin, engagement and stress levels to disengage for a while. Taking time away from busyness is an important stress management strategy.
And, it can often be the case that, after time away, when we do return to our previous task, we have a new, maybe refreshed perspective. Taking a break away from an intense, highly concentrated task or piece of work to undertake a routine, mundane activity can ease the pressure and provide a breather, giving us time to mentally recharge.
There are parents who find themselves under relentless pressure to entertain their children, aiming to fill every moment with meaningful activity. But a little boredom is fine. It can prompt children to use their imaginations and entertain themselves. Or even learn to cope with being still and doing nothing for a while.
Touching base with familiar activities provides reassurance that all is well with the world. We relax into what we’re doing, whilst we perhaps enjoy meeting familiar people, situations and all that they entail. When there’s no routine the result can sometimes be a random, more chaotic response to situations.
Familiarity allows us to enjoy and appreciate whenever variations and nuances that appear, perhaps on a minor scale. It provides a framework where we can explore other options, other ways of working and assess if they’re better or worse. Don’t underestimate those times. It can be good to celebrate the routine in your life!
Susan Leigh, South Manchester counsellor, hypnotherapist, relationship counsellor, writer & media contributor offers help with relationship issues, stress management, assertiveness and confidence. She works with individual clients, couples and provides corporate workshops and support.
She’s the author of 3 books, ‘Dealing with Stress, Managing its Impact’, ‘101 Days of Inspiration #tipoftheday’ and ‘Dealing with Death, Coping with the Pain’, all on Amazon.
To order a copy or for more information, help and free articles visit www.