How Important are Routines for our Emotional Stability?
To make the term resilience less theoretical and to show what I think is the basis of living a happy life, in the succeeding blog posts I am going to talk about the different components of resilience. Researchers found out that the following is important to build or strengthen resilience: spirituality, behavioral/social skills, physical well-being, cognitive competency, and emotional stability. In this blog post I am going to briefly talk about resilience in general and to have a closer look on its component emotional stability. In my opinion one way to maintain emotional stability is to implement routines into your life.
Everyone has to deal with drawbacks in his or her life: some to a higher, some to a lesser degree. If there are obstacles coming up, human beings need to be able to bounce back to their normality, to be able to go on living their lives in a normal way. For sure there will be challenges in your life after which you are not able to go back to the exact point where you were before. That is not what I mean by being resilient or building resilience. It is obvious that when you, for example, have lost your job or a person that was really close to you, you will not be able to go back to the point where you were before. You have to adjust, you have to change. Maybe you will have to reorganize your whole life. In my opinion resilience is exactly this, to have the power, energy and will to react to obstacles, challenges and drawbacks with change and in a productive kind of way. To not break down in such situations but to be able to adjust your life, that is what I call resilient. It is possible for everyone to strengthen their resilience and to prepare for obstacles. It is possible for everyone to build their basis for a happy life. Keep in mind that strengthening resilience is a constant progress. You cannot say, ok now I have reached a certain degree of resilience and I am going to stop here. You have to constantly work on it and, of course, adjust it, too!
When it comes to emotional stability as a component of resilience (and certainly of a happy life) I think that it is really important to have a routine of mostly anything. It doesn’t matter so much what it is. What matters is that you do it frequently like every second day. I consider my dog as an example here. Implementing a routine with my dog is very important for him because it releases his anxiety. I think it is partly true for humans. You might also call it tradition. Civilizations have certain traditions they stick to. I wonder why that is the case? In Western civilization it is for example holidays like Christmas, Eastern, etc. (nowadays). Religion has brought along many traditions like going to the church every week, praying during the day – just to mention a few. These traditions must have proofed worthy otherwise the rituals would vanish and not become a tradition. What is the worth of them? They give a routine to people, a kind of stability. A stability that some cannot find in their personal lives. A tradition consists mostly of a social activity and some can also be practiced alone. Maybe you are already involved in a sufficient amount of traditional activities (celebrating Christmas once a year certainly is not enough!) so that you are not much in need of a personal routine.
However, many people tent to not follow traditions anymore for a lot of different reasons. That is when you need a personal routine (which can also take place in a social environment as long as this environment is reliable and stable). A routine or tradition can be your base to rely on when you struggle with obstacles in your life. It is something you do no matter what is going to happen, it is something you stick with, it is something that is always “there” for you (so you should consider it maybe not to be human). That could be cooking, doing sports, going for a walk, painting, running, doing tasks that have to be done and, yes, it could even be a regular working schedule. A routine doesn’t have to be a time consuming activity. It could also be a small act or change in behavior like drinking two cups of water each morning or doing the yoga sun salutation. It is better to have more than one routine, so if you are not able to follow one because of a certain reason, you are still going to have another.
I think most people underestimate the power of routine and habit. They simplify our lives, they give us the stability we need. Otherwise we get lost all too soon. You might think now that having a routine is extremely easy and something we do unconsciously. Yes exactly, we do routines unconsciously, but until we reach that point we truly have to implement the new behavior/ activity. There are people who have sticked with certain routines since they were children, but others have not. We will come up with a couple of excuses like I am too tired, I have no time, I am late, I am ill, I do not feel like it. How hard was it to actually switch from school or university into a daily working routine? I think it took me about two years. Also do not underestimate that routines should be chosen wisely. Bad habits don’t build resilience. What do I mean by wisely chosen routines? Checking your cell phone all the time is maybe a routine, but nothing that helps you strengthening your resilience neither is going out to a party every weekend or watching episodes every night. Better choose something where your body or mind stay active. Keep in mind the dog: While being active he releases his pressure and anxiety!