There is a place in life, and certainly in recovery, for routine. But is it always helpful?
I am a devoted follower of a daily routine. Yet, I see others around me thriving with no semblance of one. How can this be?
Routine is something that comforts me. It quells my worries and keeps the anxiety at bay. But does it really benefit me?
I have always been a creature of habit and cautious of risk. I’m a planner through and through. In life and in recovery, I believe this has both helped and hindered me.
That said, routines can be very helpful in recovery. Routines can be super helpful to structure meal times and restore nutrients for someone suffering from an eating disorder who can’t follow their own body cues yet.
However, there can be a bad side to routines. Routine keeps you eating the same foods, sticking to the same social circles or the safe food rituals.
In these instances, routine is not beneficial to recovery. Relying on routines too much can keep you from living a full and healthy life.
…and the ugly
But it gets worse. Routine is present in the worst moments of our illnesses. It keeps the calories to a certain amount and exercise routine the same. You might realize your binge episodes have a sort of routine to them.
So, while routines can be good in some instances, they aren’t always positive. They can either be inhibiting your growth, or at worst – downright sabotaging you.
So, what does this mean for me?
Stick to the routines you need to in order to get yourself healthy and stable. For example, use routines to fight the voices that tell you it’s not time to eat yet or that you don’t need a balanced meal. But break out of your routines when you need to.
Here are some ways to combat the bad and ugly sides of routine. Doing this will help you build resiliency. While routines can be great, getting too comfortable in routines can lead to stress and anxiety when something unforeseen disrupts them.
Here are 5 tips for breaking out of your routine:
1. Try new things
Set goals to try new things.
Maybe it’s trying at least one new food a week. Or it may be talking to a stranger or going out for coffee. Don’t let yourself get settled into a routine of isolation and familiarity. Switch it to a habit of trying new things and compiling experiences.
2. Switch up your movement habits
If you struggle with exercise addiction this can be very difficult. But don’t let routine keep you entrenched in certain exercises or durations of time.
Challenge the rules that say you must do “X” or “X number of minutes”. Try adding in an extra day of rest on a day when you usually exercise. You’ll see that life really is ok outside of your exercise routine and your body will thank you for it.
3. Challenge food routines
Have that dessert at a different time. Eat that meal 15 minutes earlier or later. Go out for ice cream in the morning for no reason. Or try out having breakfast for dinner.
Once you get more comfortable food, don’t become complacent or reliant on your routine forever. Routine can evolve and there are always exceptions.
4. Don’t follow the same social routines
Switch things up. Don’t always go to your bestie’s favorite restaurant instead of your own. Plan a night out with some friends. Or try signing up for a class to try something new.
Avoid complacency by socialize more or less frequently one week. Maybe try going to a movie on an unusual night or hanging out with people who aren’t your safety net.
5. And finally….get comfortable with breaking routine
Breaking you’re routines every once in awhile is awesome! It won’t even have a long-lasting effect (other than perhaps making you more free and happy!).
So give it a go! Sleep in if you usually wake up early. Eat dessert before dinner! Another great way to get out of your routine is to accept spontaneous requests (or make them yourself!) from friends.