4 Reasons Why a Daily Routine Is Good for You

4 Reasons Why a Daily Routine Is Good for You

Learn more about what a routine is and how you can start developing one.

Many of the most successful people – scholars, athletes, and entrepreneurs alike – will credit their daily routines for much of their success. There are many reasons that a routine might be an important part of your life. Some reasons might be specific to you, your goals, and your situation, but there are three general reasons why it’s important to develop a healthy routine including the predictability it provides for your daily life, the mental energy it helps you conserve, and the consistency and self-discipline it promotes.

Routine Increases Predictability

Humans innately desire predictability. You might be familiar with the old adage that people are “creatures of habit.” We tend to find chaos and unpredictability stressful, and we feel more secure when we can predict with some certainty what is going to happen. Research has shown that predictability and perceived control help mitigate symptoms of anxiety (Schmidt & Lerew, 2002).

Routine Conserves Mental Energy

Routine is also important because it saves us mental energy. As we move through our days, we encounter an enormous amount of options for what action we might take at any given moment. Research shows that making decisions like these requires the expenditure of some of our finite mental energy resources (Baumeister et al., 1994). Routines, on the other hand, do not require conscious effort or thought (Arlinghaus & Johnston, 2019) and thus require significantly less mental energy.

Routine Promotes Consistency and Discipline

Routines are vital for consistently engaging in healthy, goal-directed behaviors and resisting temptations. When we have a routine, these energetically expensive decisions are made ahead of time, which improves the likelihood that we will stick with behaviors that are consistent with our goals (Duckworth et al., 2018).

Routine Leads to Better Mental Health

Having a healthy, daily routine can play a major role in sustaining good mental health. Studies have shown that disruptions in daily routines are associated with depression and anxiety (Sabet et al., 2021). This is likely because disruptions in daily routines lead to an increased sense of uncontrollability and unpredictability. Feeling as though you exist in a chaotic environment over which you have little control is a hallmark symptom of both anxiety and depression (Shear et al., 1994). Lacking a consistent routine has also been shown to be associated with sleep disorders (Sabet et al., 2021).

“If you follow the classical pattern, you are understanding the routine, the tradition, the shadow — you are not understanding yourself.”
― Bruce Lee

Benefits of Having A Routine

Science has shown that having a routine can provide a wide variety of benefits for our physical and mental health (Ludwig, 1997). Some of these benefits include

● Fulfilling obligations

● Consistent activity levels

● Physical health

● Feeling in control of life

● Balancing work, rest, and play

● Achieving goals

● Improved self-esteem

● Adding meaning to life

Research into the benefits of routines for families has shown that having a routine is associated with (Arlinghaus & Johnston, 2019):

● Increased family functioning

● Improved sleep

● Improved social skills

● Academic success

● Resilience during times of crisis

Examples of Routines

Below are a few different types of routines and an example of what each type of routine might include. The routines you adopt will be specific to your needs and goals, so these examples aren’t necessarily recommendations for routines everyone should try. Rather, they are meant to serve as a template to help you structure the routines you plan to implement in your life.

Morning Routine

1. Make your bed

2. Drink a glass of water

3. 10 minutes of yoga

4. Eat breakfast

5. 10 minutes of journaling

6. Brush your teeth

7. Review or create your to-do list for the day

Bedtime Routine

1. Turn off the television

2. Write a to-do list for the following day

3. Have a cup of herbal tea

4. Take a warm bath

5. Brush and floss your teeth

6. Listen to calming music while you stretch

7. Do a 5-minute mindful meditation

Tips on Sticking To A Routine

Starting a routine is a walk in the park compared to sticking to a routine. Waning motivation, changes in schedules, or other circumstances, such as illness, can easily throw us off our decided path. Here are a couple of tips for sticking with your new routine:

Prepare for Obstacles

Often, we can identify in advance what events or situations might disrupt our routines. For example, we can anticipate that we might struggle to maintain our routines when we know that we are going to have a particularly busy work week or if we are planning to go on vacation for a few days. We can prepare for these obstacles in advance by adjusting our routines to fit these circumstances.

Practice Self-Compassion

When we are first cultivating a routine that works for us, it can be hard to stick with our plans. Disruptions in life, both good and bad, can throw off our routines (Frank et al., 2022). When our routines start to fall apart, we can experience an increase in symptoms of anxiety and depression (Frank et al., 2022), which can make getting back into our routines additionally challenging. Practicing self-compassion when you are struggling to stick to your routines will be enormously helpful in getting back on track.

In Sum

Having healthy routines is an important part of our overall health and wellbeing. In addition to improving our mental and physical health, routines can also help us achieve our goals and live more fully. Developing and sustaining a routine is not always easy, so it is important that we are flexible when necessary and always compassionate with ourselves when we slip up.

References

● Arlinghaus, K. R., & Johnston, C. A. (2019). The importance of creating habits and routine. American journal of lifestyle medicine, 13(2), 142-144.

● Baumeister, R.F., Heatherton, T.F., & Tice, D.M. (1994). Losing control: How and why people fail at self-regulation. San Diego, CA: Academic Press.

● Duckworth, A. L., Milkman, K. L., & Laibson, D. (2018). Beyond willpower: Strategies for reducing failures of self-control. Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 19(3), 102-129.

● Frank, E., Swartz, H. A., & Boland, E. (2022). Interpersonal and social rhythm therapy: an intervention addressing rhythm dysregulation in bipolar disorder. Dialogues in clinical neuroscience.

● Ludwig, F. M. (1997). How routine facilitates wellbeing in older women. Occupational Therapy International, 4(3), 215-230.

● Sabet, S. M., Dautovich, N. D., & Dzierzewski, J. M. (2021). The rhythm is gonna get you: social rhythms, sleep, depressive, and anxiety symptoms. Journal of Affective Disorders, 286, 197-203.

● Schmidt, N. B., & Lerew, D. R. (2002). Prospective evaluation of perceived control, predictability, and anxiety sensitivity in the pathogenesis of panic. Journal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment, 24(4), 207-214