Many people approach the New Year in a frenzy of goals and promises. This is actually an unhealthy approach to change. Take diet for example, if a person approaches “diet” in a frenzied state, making promises to themselves and others, they are setting themselves up for failure.
Any new goal should be approached in a balanced way. I say that because even though this series is entitled “healthy habits,” if they are approached haphazardly, or even with an overabundance of enthusiasm, they are more likely to fail. Also when I speak of health, I speak of the health of the whole human; body, mind, and soul. Any or all of these suggestions should be approached in a balanced way, not to be seen as a set of rules that “must” be followed; humans don’t tend to do well with orders, even positive ones.
So, with that being said, the first “habit” is a bit redundant, it is “routine.” This doesn’t mean you need to plot and plan every minute of every day, but rather it should be a framework. Later I’ll specifically talk of sleep patterns, but every daily routine should begin with a plan of when to go to sleep and when to wake up. This routine isn’t just a workday routine, but a routine that should be followed on weekends and holidays too. In a later article, I’ll write about how waking early in the day is a way to get ahead, and be more successful at whatever you set out to do.
For now, you need to set a time to rise and a time to go to bed. You also need to schedule time to eat during the day and try to stick as close to that schedule as possible. These things help to regulate your body, which functions better with routine. It’s the same with medication; in short, anything that will have an effect on your body and its metabolism should be a part of your routine, for your physical, mental, and spiritual health.
Establish “mini-routines” for the most important parts of your day. When you rise, have a routine to kick off your day. For example, an easy exercise (walking, yoga, etc…) or simple stretching routine, quiet time, a time for prayer and/or bible study/praise and worship, and then breakfast. Then the steps you go through to make yourself presentable to the day; shower, brush your teeth, etc… When you go to bed, the same thing (will blog about specific bed routines later).
One important routine to establish is a goal routine; you set specific goals in the morning, and review them at night. Obviously this includes a lot of honesty. If you failed to reach a goal, why did you fail? Did you set too big of a goal, did you squander your time, did something else come up? This is where you must watch for defense mechanisms, like rationalization. Rationalization is where you basically fool yourself into believing an excuse instead of the real problem. The truth is, many of us are lazy and just don’t want to do certain things, but routine and schedule will help to develop a level of discipline that will help get things done.
Figure out what else is important to you such as exercise, reading, gardening, etc… and make sure to set aside time for them as well. There will be certain things you are willing to sacrifice in a day for the sake of already scheduled events, and somethings you make a priority.
Kids and pets thrive on routine, so they will thank you too. What if you don’t have kids or pets? You have friends or a boss, or a spouse, or co-workers who will also thank you, because you’ll be in a better mood and be better functioning. One last point about routine; it is obvious but the routine you establish should be positive, if you establish a negative routine, you will reap the opposite results (for example, if going to bed at different times all week is your routine, that is going to have ill effects on your physical, mental and emotional state).