Although spontaneity is one of the hallmarks of mental wellbeing, it is possible to have too much of the good thing. Aiming for a balance between winging it and having everything planned out is the winning recipe for wellbeing.
What we can learn from history’s most productive people
Routine is not a word that necessarily sparks excitement and inspiration. However, the days of the most creative and ingenious people throughout history have always been highly structured. Kant, Mozart, Freud, to name but a few, same as the modern-day successful people, all had routines to assist them in being this prolific in their work and study.
The reason? According to what we know, they noticed that by transforming the things they did daily anyway into routines, they freed up the time and energy for creative work – and leisure. So, they made rituals out of waking up and going to sleep, eating, working, exercising, doing house chores or tending to other business.
The science-backed benefits of routines
Scientific research revealed that routines could do wonders for our mental health. You can use this knowledge to improve your efficacy, as well as to teach your students how to be more organised and mentally healthy.
1. Routines make sure that one does not exhaust their physical and mental capacities on daily errands. Instead, we feel rested and energised for the non-routine tasks.
2. When we repeat specific tasks, we get better at them. Moreover, the skill we acquired in one routine could also transfer to others. We develop an overall mastery of cognitive skills.
3. Having a routine helps not to get lost in disorganisation chaos but instead meet one’s goals and values. Wellbeing and a sense of purpose is a product of sustaining a meaningful daily practice.
4. When you routinise your approach to work or study, you become more effective. The secret is in the power of habits to minimise procrastination and make your activity more time-effective.
5. A schedule that includes regular sleep time, exercise, cooking healthy meals, and leisure and time for hobbies makes it more probable for people to engage in those activities.
6. All of the above indirectly benefit mental health. In addition, some studies confirm the direct advantage of a consistent routine for easing the symptoms of bipolar disorder, as well as other emotional disorders, impulsivity and behavioural disorders.
Routines – a vessel for creativity and mental health
For a habit to form, we first need to invest some effort and time. If we wanted to speak in numbers, it would be anywhere between 18 to 254 days, according to a 2009 study.
However, as our lives are filled with unpredictability, stress and countless obligations, it is an investment that will pay off. Routines take us to a more harmonious state of mind and liberate our potential for creativity, mental clarity, and better coping with the rush of our day-to-day living.