I’ve just got back from a 2 week trip to Toronto to visit Mr Bonono’s family and get away from the heat of Dubai’s summer (those of you who don’t live here, just imagine the sun, and now place yourself in the centre of it. That’s Dubai right now!)
Besides having a wonderful time breathing in the fresh air, I also took a complete break from my healthy habits. I had a lot of complex carbs, cocktails, and late nights, and did no exercise, meditation or yoga. I skipped study and reflection, for ice cream and idleness. Basically, I listened to my shoulder devil, instead of my shoulder angel!
A few days after readjusting back to normal life in Dubai, I took stock of my physical and mental condition following the hiatus and was shocked to see the negative changes that had taken place.
My stomach was bloated and I had gained over 1kg of weight. My skin was blotchy and I had serious brain fog. I felt low, unmotivated, and craved sugar all the time. Seeing and feeling these changes made me realise how important my daily habits and routines had become.
Realising the impact of healthy habits
Over the past 6 months, I had gradually introduced new practices into my life to form a routine that was good for me. But I was so unaware of HOW good the routine was. After just 2 days of reintroducing it, I immediately felt lighter, happier, and energised.
Of course, a large part of this improvement is down to eating a better diet, moving more, and getting those extra hours in bed. But another reason why I felt so much better was that I was back into having a set routine.
Routines are as important as the activity
Psychologists say that routine and habits are hugely important to us humans. It can ease stress and dissolve anxiety by allowing us to naturally flow into tasks that are familiar to us. Also, routine gives us a sense of purpose and direction to our day; motivating us to jump out of bed and get moving.
When I lived at home I would tease my dad for being so predictable with his routine and lack of spontaneity. To me, a routine seemed like such an old person thing to do. He would eat certain meals at certain times, go to the gym only on specific days, and do the same hobbies every evening. He would get all bent out of shape if he couldn’t follow his practice. Now I see he was actually future proofing his mental and physical health. At 62 he is amazingly fit both physically and mentally. My dad is no health guru, he was just simply doing what felt good.
Get your own routine
For a routine to take root in your life it needs to become a habit. Here are a few ways I created my routine through habit building.
- Set your focus
The first step is to realise what routine you want to set up. To do this you need to know what your focus is. Is it health, diet, relationships, running, sewing, learning, etc. You can’t do everything so prioritise the important ones. My focus is holistic health and understanding of my body. Once I realised my goal, I was able to then list a few habits to create a routine that meets this goal. If your routine is influenced by your passion and has a goal associated you are more likely to be dedicated to the practice.
We live in a tech world, so use it! Set reminders to trigger you to do the activity and establish processes to make the activity easy. Humans are lazy creatures if its too hard our brain will yell “why are you doing this instead of eating cookies on the sofa!”. So silence your brain by making life easy. A few of the apps I use have reminders built in (e.g. HeadSpace reminds me every morning at 6 am to meditate) or I use tools like Nozbe to create to do lists which I refer to every morning and evening.
- Don’t give up
It is unlikely you will find a routine that fits straight away. You will need to play with timings, activities, and processes before you find your groove. This is another reason you should consider your goal before even starting to establish a routine; because if at first your activities don’t fit into your life you will be less likely to give up than if it is associated with a passion. Experts say it takes 21 days for a habit to form. So once you are satisfied with your set up you need to stick to it. It took me over 3 months to feel happy with my morning process before I could work on the habit building; now I’m happy I’m moving onto my evening routine.
I love a holiday, but having my routine back feels almost as good! I won’t be sacrificing it again.
If this post has piqued your interest about my morning routine, let me know in the comments and I’ll walk you through my life from 5 – 8 am. You can get a taste of it from my previous post “Don’t compare your chapter 1” – YOGA!!
I’d also like to share with you a few reviews on products, apps, podcasts, etc. that have helped develop my habits and knowledge. So if you’re interested in that please also let me know in the comments 🙂