Routine, I always found this word evoked thoughts of predictability and drudgery; recently I have been reassessing this mind set. Maybe I just need to think about this differently? Right now with so many of us struggling with a completely different reality their could be opportunities too.
The Neuroscience of Habits
Firstly, a bit of neuroscience. Did you know our brain filters out a lot of information? Well it does, your brain decides what you do and don’t need to be aware of, simply because it cannot process everything we are exposed to. Our brain prioritises what it thinks we need to have awareness of. This is where habits come in, our brain is always looking for patterns. Once our brain recognises that something is happening on a regular basis it will ‘programme’ it and ask our subconscious to deal with so it can release cognitive capacity. The brain is then free to focus on more important things like keeping you safe, reacting to unpredictable events and thinking creatively.
How Easy Is It to Build Habits?
It’s particularly easy to develop habits that we find instantly enjoyable, like eating a bar of chocolate whilst watching TV or grabbing that cup of coffee from your favourite coffee shop (MYCLOUD COFFEE, you have much to answer for, Mocha Coffee Heaven). It’s a bit more challenging to get into the habit of taking a daily walk or meditating. This can also mean habits in how you think or behave under pressure or stress. Is it time to discover a different way of being?
If we do the same things, in the same order at the same time, the brain quickly sees the pattern. The resistance to avoid the activity gets lower each time we follow our ritual.
Once the subconscious mind, which makes up 90% of our brain capacity, has been programmed then it can be challenging to break a habit. The brain creates Neural pathways, they are like tracks of electric impulses; the more we think a thought or carry out a particular action the stronger those neural pathways become.
Why Build Routines?
So, what’s my point? You might think having routines is dull but in fact what you could be doing is:
1) Freeing up your brain for more creative thought; being more efficient and productive in the way we do things
2) Building healthy habits.
As you repeat a particular routine, every day, the brain starts to recognise the pattern and hey presto a new habit begins to be formed, the more you repeat it the stronger the habit. It might take some effort but all you need to do is to START doing a little something new or different REGULARLY.
Covid 19 Gives us an Opportunity
Most of us have a bit more time right now and a chance for some reflection, what would you like to change? Your experience of self-isolation could be a productive and positive one? Perhaps you want to read more? Learn to meditate? Exercise more? You will stand a much higher chance of doing it if you build your new activity into a routine. Scheduling activities and setting goals, however small, provides purpose and structure. I began a morning routine that includes reading for 15 mins every morning before I get out of bed. In the past 6 weeks I have read 4 books that, had I not developed my morning ritual, would still be sitting on my shelf unread.
As you build the routine you begin to feel a sense of achievement. Your motivation and self belief increases as you begin to feel the longer-term benefits of healthier, productive habits. As a lot of us have lost our routine, NOW, could be the perfect opportunity to build new behaviours; so here are my top tips:
TOP TIPS FOR BUILDING A ROUTINE
PICK one thing you want to change, start doing or stop doing. If you wanting to stop something replace that activity with an alternative healthier action.
WHY do you want to do this, spend time visualising what doing this will bring in the long run?
DECIDE what your new routine will be, get it really clear in you mind, what, when, how long?
CREATE a GOAL MAP, you can create a free on line Goal Map VIA THIS LINK.
COMMIT to it, don’t allow any excuses, write down what you are going to do.
BE ACCOUNTABLE ideally tell someone what you are going to do. Diarise check-in’s to review progress.
ACCEPT that you won’t be perfect, be kind to yourself if you slip up, just get back on track as soon as possible
REMEMBER the science, each time you carry out your routine you are building new neural pathways.
If you are ready to reassess life and begin to build the life you actually want get in touch. I offer personal development coaching to both individuals and groups.
I specialise in Health and Wellness Coaching and offer remote sessions for individuals and groups. Please CLICK HERE to contact me if you would like help in developing better health and wellness.