Routine is essential. Especially for those of us who hate it.
While many of us (especially entrepreneurs) tend to reject the idea of every day being the same, the truth is that we all need a certain degree of routine on a primal level. Routines make us feel safe, secure, and stable. They can make us happier and even healthier.
A couple of years ago, my startup was going through a crazy growth spurt. Things were going well, and I loved my work. But for some reason, I still felt like my life was a chaotic mess. I had no good reason to be unhappy, so these feelings didn’t make sense. But after thinking about it, I noticed something: I had literally zero routines in my life.
I woke up and went to bed at different times every day. One night, I was in a hotel. The next night, I was home. One week, I would exercise on Tuesday and Thursday. The next week, I would exercise only on Monday. Meals were always at different times, and I always ate different foods.
Every day…every week…every month was totally different than the one before. Almost NOTHING was predictable.
I wondered, “Could the lack of routine in my life be making me FEEL like my life is all messed up, even though I know it isn’t?”
So I decided to try an experiment.
Every night before getting ready for bed, I started making a cup of chamomile tea at 10 pm. That’s it. Just a cup of tea. Every night. At the exact same time. No matter what.
It seems like such a little thing. But you know what? Within just a few days, I started to feel better. My life started to feel healthier, more stable, more “put together”. It worked. But the REASON it worked had nothing to do with tea.
As it turns out, it didn’t matter WHAT I was doing. A cup of tea, a hot shower, a TV show…the activity itself was irrelevant. What mattered was that I was doing SOMETHING consistently. There was SOMETHING that my body, mind, and spirit could look forward to; SOMETHING I could count on to not change.
Routines, as it turns out, are a necessary part of our psychological and biological design. You could even call them a survival mechanism. Routines help us automate our most satisfying actions and turn them into habits so that we don’t have to spend energy making the same decisions over and over again. They give our minds a sense of peace and normalcy. They tell our bodies that our environment is safe and stable and that everything is OK, which ultimately has positive effects on heart rate, cortisol levels, and more.
My 10 pm tea routine brought me so much comfort that I started looking at other ways to incorporate routine into my crazy entrepreneur lifestyle. And they’ve made a big difference! Over the past few years, I’ve experimented with a bunch of interesting routines (some of which I would be embarrassed to tell you about). My favorites have been 30 minutes of daily visualization, an outdoor walk first thing after waking up, and the Andy Griffith Show before bed (yes, really).
Ironically, I’m not always consistent with my routines. Life happens! But now that I’ve discovered their power, that tool will always be in my toolbox. It’s in yours, too! If you’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed by constant changes in your life, try implementing a simple routine. Just one. Keep it simple. And watch what happens.
What are some of your favorite daily routines?