It's easy to shrug off having structured routines as being boring. And not living freely and spontaneously. But there are actual benefits to going about your day in a more structured and orderly manner.
Those with anxiety (me) thrive with routine. When my day isn't planned it tends to throw me into a slight panic. My anxiety level builds leaving me feeling out of control. And sometimes in a state of fight or flight.
Kids seem to behave better when they have a routine. And know what is to come from their day. It provides them with a feeling of safety.
My elderly grandparents have had a set routine for many many years which they barely break. It's perhaps a little too structured, but they are in their late 80s and managing on their own in their own home without too many dramas. My grandmother tends to the cleaning and inside of the house. My grandfather to the garden and the cooking.
I do think that to build resilience we need to throw ourselves out of routine from time-to-time. And kids also. Life is like that and we need to know how to handle things when they don't go according to plan.
But there is truth that routine (for the majority of the time) helps keep us balanced and calm. We are creatures of habit. Having routine and structure help us feel steady, safe and gives us a sense of purpose.
"The most successful people in history–the ones many refer to as "geniuses" in their fields,
masters of their crafts–had one thing in common, other than talent:
Most adhered to rigid (and specific) routines."
– Brianna Weist, 101 essays that will change the way you think
It's demonstrated in literature about the happiest people in the world. They all tend to share a commonality in that they have a fairly consistent routine. They have a close group of friends that they see often. They may have a vegetable garden they tend to or a consistent activity each day. They might go to church consistently on a weekend. And many Europeans traditionally would gather with loved ones for a big lunch.
Routine also helps us enter a state of flow. We are better able to enter flow when there is routine in place. Where time is allocated to specific activities. And we are mentally prepared to enter that activity.
When we ease off from a structured routine, that's when life can get on top of us a bit and feel overwhelming. Our work load begins to build, our email inbox becomes full, our healthy eating and exercise can slacken off. Our life in general can gradually become off balance when we stray from routine.
Some love a 'ready for anything' state. Many do not. If you prefer the later then set a few routines and stick to them for a while. You might find doing so helps you feel calmer and in control.
Set a morning routine
I find that if you have an idea of how your day will begin, then it helps keeps the morning calm. Which is essentially what we want to happen going into our busy days. This is the challenge I have currently as our children wake at random times (between 4am and 5:30am usually). So the morning routine isn't as structured as I'd like. But I find having a loose routine helps the mornings go smoothly.
Set an evening routine
Equally important. It helps you ease into a restful night when there is a little consistency. It allows us to wind down and our thoughts to become slower which help us to have a restful sleep.
It is easy to fall out of routines. And we all do. Life throws challenges and we get tired and stressed. I think it's important each month to sit down and take a look at your life as a whole. And work out which areas are off balance. And then come up with solutions on how to regain balance again.
When we have a calm mind, we are more likely to feel much better in our day-to-day lives. And go about our time more productively. So we have time left over to simply enjoy.