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Routines are solid base to excel in everyday life



By Joanne Ahern. I like March. I don’t know who coined the phrase “March comes in like a lion, and goes out like a Lamb”, and vice versa, but it is true.  Another phrase recently coined by my sister is, “March holds out many possibilities but promises nothing.”  Now that really sums up the month of March and that is really why I like March because it is fickle and unpredictable.   However, the one thing that is dependable about March is that April is sure to follow and April is just spectacular in its offerings of new beginnings.  And just as sure as April will thrill our senses, along comes May and then June all marching in a row. They are predictable, they are dependable, they are…routine.

I like routine. It helps me focus, and keeps me on the right track.  Can you imagine if May came, then April then October?  How confusing would that be?  We wouldn’t know which way to turn nor what to expect next.

Some say that routines are boring, but I find that a good routine can be invigorating, even lifesaving in times of stress and strife. When I have to get up at some horrible hour like 4 a.m., I depend on my morning routine to help me navigate through the fog in my brain. Or if I have suffered some kind of trauma, whether physical or emotional, I find I can get through the day as long as I have a my routine to rely on.

I have several routines that keep me in line.  One is my work week routine, the second is my Saturday routine and the third is my Sunday routine.  Now there is tremendous flexibility within these routines, and that’s important so that you can take advantage of different opportunities as they arise, but for the most part, you’ll find me doing laundry on a Saturday morning.

I’ll bet that you have routines and maybe you never gave them much thought. They create calm and consistency in our lives.  Some of us have strict routines, others have more fluid ones.  Routines have very different looks but all help us in our daily lives.

Perhaps you’re having difficulty being disciplined in eating correctly, practicing the piano, or getting your daily exercise.   You don’t have to get all the routines right all the time.   Sticking to a routine in at least one area of your life can help you build up your routine-keeping skills in other areas.

Kim Pittawy, writing in Reader’s Digest Best Health publication, suggests that routines can simplify our lives, help us to get healthier and reduce stress.

To be healthier

  • Take the stairs – Skip elevators and escalators and opt for the stairs—even if you start with just one floor’s worth.
  • Stretch – Set your watch to beep once an hour during your workday. When it does, take a few seconds to notice where your body feels tight. Change position, stretch, move: You’ll feel better for it.

To simplify life

  • Book ahead – Always schedule your next hair appointment before you leave the salon to avoid the hassle and stress of making last-minute appointments. Ditto for dental and medical checkups, vet appointments and routine car maintenance.
  • Create a master grocery list – Keep it on the fridge or a kitchen bulletin board, and check things off as you run out. Next time you head to the store, you’ll know exactly what you need.

To reduce stress

  • Play with your pet – Create regular playtimes with your pet—as you’re getting out of bed in the morning, a few minutes before you leave for work or as soon as you get home. You’ll be happier, and, of course, your pet will be fitter and healthier, too.
  • Tune in – Take one minute out of each day to look and listen to the world around you. Notice one thing that makes you happy, whether it’s the snow falling or the stars at night.

Following someone else’s routine may not work for you, but those suggestions can make it easier to stay on the path of our own choosing.

And that of course is what a routine really is — the path we take through our day.   And just assuredly as April follows March, our routines will create a more peaceful, predictable life.