We’re all guilty of sticking to a routine, from our route to work to our mid-morning snack. But mixing it up could provide us with more than just a little excitement…
Routines: we all have them.
We get up at the same time every morning, we eat the same breakfast, and we get the same bus to work. Some of us even have the same lunch every day, before coming home to watch the same shows on TV each night.
Sometimes, this is great: the comfort of a favourite film or box set can make the worst day feel calmer and cosier.
And sometimes, it’s necessary: needing to get to work on time every day is pretty unavoidable, no matter how much we want that extra 20 minutes of sleep.
But taking the time to break out of your routine can actually be incredibly beneficial.
It may seem daunting, but it could end up being easier than you think.
Here’s our handy guide to getting creative and breaking your daily pattern…
Change your route to or from work
Chances are, not even the most gripping book or podcast can make your commute seem even a little bit fun.
Which makes it the perfect candidate to challenge your routine.
Waking up 40 minutes earlier than usual to walk, cycle or take a new route to work can make all the difference – especially if you have the chance to access some green space.
It’s not just aesthetically pleasing, either.
Research has shown that being in green spaces, particularly in busy urban areas, can significantly boost mental health, so it could improve your day in more ways than one.
And in the summer months, it can be particularly beneficial to walk or cycle home, getting a chance to soak up that extra sunshine you missed out on in the office.
Shake up your snacks
Whether its an 11am biscuit or a mid-afternoon bag of crisps, we all have our favourite snacks.
But eating the same thing day in, day out can get pretty boring, leaving you feeling like you’re in a bit of a rut.
Luckily, this is also one of the easiest ways to throw routine out of the window.
Swapping out your usual snack for something new means that elevenses suddenly becomes more fun. Who doesn’t get excited about new food?
If you usually munch on crisps, try their Straight Up Coconut Chips for a mid-afternoon pick-me-up.
Unlike many other snacks, they’re 100% natural and don’t have any refined sugars. These gluten free goodies are also vegan friendly, so you can give yourself a pat on the back for ticking off all the boxes while you’re at it.
Dare to dream
Generally, we don’t tend to set aside time to let our minds wander.
But plenty of research has been done on the benefits of daydreaming – and taking the time to step out of your routine in this way could give you a huge creativity boost.
One 2017 study found that people whose minds wander get higher scores on “tests of intellectual and creative ability”; another in 2012 found that daydreaming can improve working memory – the part of the brain that allows us to do multiple tasks at once.
It can even help you make difficult choices: research published in Frontiers in Psychology revealed that “allowing one’s thoughts to wander until the ‘correct’ choice comes to mind… can positive impact people’s feelings about their decisions”.
So, next time you find yourself mindlessly scrolling through your Twitter feed, put your phone down for a bit . It could be the best thing you do you for yourself.
Kick that bad habit
Everyone can develop bad habits – biting nails, not texting back, having one too many glasses of wine on a work night…
And while indulging in the occasional splurge is nothing to beat yourself up over, it’s also important to take time to figure out which ones could be getting in the way of creating a more positive routine.
Psychologist Robert Taibbi proposes several steps to breaking a bad habit.
First, define the habit you want to break – say, drinking alcohol during the week – in concrete, specific terms.
Then identify the triggers, such as stress, anxiety or sadness.
Finally, develop healthier substitutions and ways to easily incorporate them. Rather than giving up treats altogether, for example, swap out an unhealthy bag of crisps for a tasty fruit snack, or order a mocktail at the pub rather than an alcoholic one.
And remember to reward yourself – breaking habits is hard, so congratulating yourself on your efforts is important.
Remember to be spontaneous
Disrupting your entire routine isn’t possible or practical. We all need to go to work and perform life admin.
But you’d be surprised how easy it is to break out of your everyday mode just by being mindful, deciding to say yes more and embracing spontaneity.
We’re not saying you need to be the kind of spontaneous that jumps into lakes in your birthday suit (although, why not?).
But we are saying there’s a place for everyday spontaneity and being occasionally free-spirited - accept an invitation you’d normally say no to, pick something different from the menu when you eat out, go on that date with someone who isn’t your type.
And enjoy reaping the rewards.