3 Reasons Why a Routine Life is a Healthy Life
By Martha Michael
If variety is the spice of life, what do we call our habits that always stay the same? According to some, the correct answer is “healthy.” Developing a lifestyle of routines is not only easier in many ways, it’s actually ideal, according to experts.
Natalie Dautovich, PhD, talks about the importance of regular sleep patterns in an article on Sleep.org. Many parents will attest to the benefits of bedtime routines, and studies show that regularity in early childhood may improve cognitive performance and behavior, says Dautovich, who is the National Sleep Foundation’s Environmental Scholar and assistant professor of counseling psychology at the University of Florida.
A 2014 poll by the National Sleep Foundation shows that only half of kids under 11 years of age have regular sleep schedules, but notes that a child’s body typically develops a routine on its own.
Adults also have a natural need for routine habits, the article says. Evidence shows that your digestive system begins the process of salivating and metabolizing food in advance of predictable mealtimes. And like clockwork, we feel awake and get tired at almost the same times every day. And for seniors, a set routine is not only important, it’s easier to maintain later in life, mostly because responsibilities are simpler.
“Being older is associated with greater lifestyle regularity compared to younger and middle-aged adults,” Dautovich says. “Furthermore, this regularity appears to be adaptive by helping older adults sleep better and recover more quickly from losses.”
An article in Psychology Today shares more good news for those who choose to set healthy routines. A life filled with regular habits reduces your mental burden, according to Meg Selig, the author of “Changepower! 37 Secrets to Habit Change Success.” Being on emotional autopilot keeps you from the stress of frequent decision-making. For instance, if you’re a creature of habit with a morning routine of coffee (always Starbucks), a hot shower (10-12 minutes) and a Waterpik treatment (with Crest Complete), you can get to work without breaking a mental sweat.
Rituals, or spiritually-infused routines, are even better -- they can help you double down on stress reduction. Practices such as meditation and yoga give you the advantages of routine while also contributing to personal relaxation. The byproduct of building structure into your life can contribute to feelings of peace and well-being. The ritual of drawing up New Year’s resolutions affords you the opportunity to reconsider your old routines and make healthy adjustments, Selig says.
Selig outlines some of the benefits by posing the following series of questions. Do you have a disciplined and humane routine that can:
- Free your creativity by putting some daily tasks on autopilot?
- Protect you from your more self-destructive impulses?
- Bring order and predictability to your life?
- Promote your health?
- Give you a few daily doses of R&R?
Routine has benefits that go beyond mental well-being. There are tangible, physical benefits to various forms of routine practices.
If you’re looking for changes in your joints, muscle groups or to turn around pain in your back, neck or extremities, you can start by scheduling regular visits with your chiropractor. A thorough exam and some discussion about your goals gets you started, but placing it on your calendar enables you to stay on top of the effects of the daily grind on your body. Subluxations, or joint restrictions, can occur whether you sit too much at work or run around all day, and they need to be treated so you don’t end up with a chronic condition. If you develop backaches from heavy lifting or too much standing, you likely need your practitioner to adjust your spine. Regular adjustments not only provide simple pain relief, they also improve joint motion and nerve function that can positively impact the body’s immune system.
Regular dental appointments have tremendous prophylactic effects on your oral health. Hygienists do a thorough evaluation and consult with you about lifestyle choices, as well as brushing and flossing practices. Like chiropractic care, you may not be aware of the degree that regular visits affect your chances for prevention and wellness.
It’s obvious that the goal is to repeat healthy habits, such as exercise and good hygiene. But don’t abandon your need for variety -- a little chili powder can heat things up now and then, which is healthy, too. Just because a life of routines is healthy doesn’t mean it has to be pedestrian.
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