Show of hands...who struggles with creating structure in their day (and their life)?
Yeah that would be me...and all the other vatas in the room. According to Ayurveda, a daily routine is the cornerstone of healthy living. And I've come to realize that a little bit of structure (disguised as a routine) can make all the difference in your productivity, health, and happiness. Why, you ask?
1. Routines Ensure That The Important Things In Your Life Get Done
How much time do you spend everyday on the things that matter to you most? Family, friends, self care, eating, sleeping, and connecting passionately with the world -- these are the things that nourish and sustain us, and yet they're also the things that seem to take a back seat to everyday busy-ness. Creating a regular routine that includes the things that feed you mentally, emotionally and physically, is a powerful and vital way of keeping your “tank” and your life, happy and full.
2. Routines Relieve Stress
Most of us experience some form of stress all day every day, thing is we no longer even recognize it as stress. Making decisions, particularly snap decisions, feeling doubt or guilt, coordinating schedules on the fly and even asking for help, are some of the everyday situations that include a small or big stress component. Routine removes the unknown, and can help to reduce the stress in some of these situations, by providing a mental/emotional anchor that in a lot of cases can turn out to be a lifeboat!
3. Routines Allow You To Tune Into Life Cycles
Life moves so fast these days that we barely have time to notice our own transformation. Ayurveda holds that everything that goes on outside of us goes on inside too. That means that inside and out, you're changing as much as your environment changes from day to day and season to season. Who knew!?
Routines actually allow us to observe the changes in the seasons. They give us regular check points that are a window into how we can and do create balance inside and out. And perhaps even better than that, routines provide an opportunity for us to witness and celebrate our own transformation!
How To Make Your Routines Stick
So by now you might be thinking... yeah I've tried routines before but can never seem to make them stick. And you wouldn't be alone there. But one of the main reasons we often fall off the routine wagon is because we forget to take into consideration a few simple things, so here's a quick reminder:
- Get REALLY clear on the rewards. - Every action you take in your life has some corresponding reward. Whether it's creating joy or avoiding pain, there is always a reason for everything we do (or don't do). The key to creating a powerful routine is to get clear about the rewards...really clear. How does your routine support what's important in your life? How does each aspect of your routine fit with what you believe in? These are things you need to know if you want a routine that truly supports you.
- Make it simple - No need to overcomplicate things or try to manage every aspect of your day. Start with just a few simple tasks or activities weaved into key times of your day, and allow enough flexibility in the routine to ensure that it doesn't get abandoned when the need for change arises (because it always does).
- Write it down - The easiest way to know (and remember) your routine is to write it down. Make a check list or some notes in your journal. Be as clear as possible about what you've committed to doing so that you'll know when you're actually doing it and when you're not (and can make adjustments).
- Get trigger happy - One of the keys to making habits that stick is understanding your triggers. Not every aspect of a routine can be be scheduled to the hour. And since flexibility is key to making routines work, it's important to create triggers for yourself that signal when it's ”go” time for that healthy habit or task. A trigger can be anything from a time of day (like lunchtime, or evening) to a prior activity (like waking up). Creating triggers for each of the activities in your routine will give it the flexibility it needs to go the distance.
If you want to know what an Ayurvedic daily routine looks like, make sure to check back next week and I'll tell ya!
In the meantime... what's the most important aspect of your daily routine? What one activity would be lost without? Share in the comments!