When holidays are over and we think about “going back to school”, we always say “ufff”. Going back to the routine is something we don´t want to think of. But then this year, after making the typical comment with a neighbor, I kept thinking: “is it really so uff to go back to the routine? Why do professionals insist on routines for children and yet we adults seem to be lazy?”
And so, since I am naturally restless, I began to look not only at the definition of “routine” in the dictionary, but also dusted off several scientific articles on what happens in our bodies with routine actions. And here I go:
ROUTINE: Custom or acquired habit of doing things by mere practice and in a more or less automatic way.
Which led me to look at the definition of habit:
Special way of proceeding or behaving acquired by repetition of the same or similar acts, or caused by instinctive tendencies.
And this quickly led me to the sayings of my grandparents (which also have something scientific about them, although not proven as such): Man is a creature of habit.
And contrary to the other saying: Custom kills a man
And here’s what happens to us: our body is routine and loves (good) habits to be able to function well. And if not, let’s think about what happens to us when we have been eating at odd hours for several days, or foods or types of cooking that we are not used to. Disorders appear, especially intestinal ones. And the body had become accustomed to a routine that it does not have. This is very evident in babies. When their sleeping or eating schedules are not respected, they are more irritable.
And on a mental level, what happens to us with routine? Well, simple, they give us peace of mind. Knowing what is happening reduces the secretion of certain chemicals that put us on alert, therefore reducing stress. At the same time, they help us organize our daily lives and planning, reducing anxiety levels.
Also, since it is a repetition, it makes it an unconscious act, so we stop paying attention to that repetitive action and we can focus on other acts or keep our mind “relaxed.”
So routine is good. All these automatism, in some way, help us not to “go crazy.”
However, being something repetitive, in some way we can say that routine prevents us from being aware of the present moment. And if that always happens, it’s not good. If we leave our lives on “autopilot” we lose contact with ourselves and the experiences that life offers us every day.
In the same way, entering into a routine deliberately never takes us out of our comfort zone, which gives us security but few possibilities for growth.
Y aquí es donde esta autorreflexión que comparto me lleva a la conclusión final de que NO necesitamos desenterrar la rutina de nuestras vidas (de hecho, aunque nos cueste reconocerlo nos gusta volver a la rutina). Sino que, como todo, utilizando los automatismos en ciertos momentos (ni siquiera siempre para las mismas acciones) e intentando prestar atención o dejándonos asombrar por el día a día.
No hace falta irse de vacaciones para escapar de la rutina, podemos hacerlo en pequeñas dosis cada día para poder funcionar de manera cada vez más plena.
Un truquito: cuando sientas que la rutina te ahoga, busca una actividad cotidiana y hazla de manera creativa.