There’s a lot to be said about routine.  Developing good habits can help us feel productive and can be beneficial to reaching goals that we set for ourselves.  But as helpful as they can be, they can lead to us feeling a little bored and trapped without really knowing or understanding why we feel this way.

I’ve found in recent times there has been a lot of conversation about the importance of preserving your mental energy. The idea is to cut back and not dwell on the smaller choices that need to be made every day. For example, what to eat? Meal Prep is the food buzz thing to do at the moment. If you plan out your meals for the week then you don’t need to worry about wasting precious brainpower on what can be seen as a decision that is not that important.

The downfall with this kind of planning and routine is that it can lead you to being in a rut. When we become creatures of habit, we eliminate spontaneity as well as stop ourselves from experiencing new things. We can also start to feel resentment towards tasks that have become mundane but we feel obligated to perform.

There are a lot of different reasons why you feel like you are stuck in your rut. You may actually be oblivious to it – that you simply feel you are in a routine and don’t think that a vague unhappiness can be from this. There could be a fear of change – when we try to change our routine or habits, there is an element of the unknown and this can lead us to continue doing the same thing. Another reason could be that it just seems futile – that it’s simply how life is and ruts are inevitable.

These are just barriers though, and all that is needed to break out of our ruts are a few tools on how to shake up your routine for the good.

Start Small: The smallest change can have the effect of liberating change.

Where’s an easy place to start? The shower! In my experience, I’ve found most creatures of habit always have the same routine in the shower. Try switching up the tasks you do in the shower – it’s a good way to break habits.  You can also do other small things to shake up your routine, like sitting in a different seat in your lounge room or at the dinner table, change your exercise routine or path on your next walk or take a different route to work.

You will find these small changes will help to break up routine and patterns. When you want to make changes in your life whether it be behavioural or otherwise it can really help to change your routines. It’s like giving your neural pathways a jolt. So by changing the order of seemingly minor and menial actions that have become patterns, it signals the brain in a way that the brain will respond by being more open to change in general.

Forget Trying to be Perfect: We can be our own worst enemies in terms of what we expect of ourselves and we can push ourselves to the point where we resent the tasks we are doing. A small example – maintaining an exercise routine. It’s ok to sometimes decide you’d rather do something else than go to the gym. Relieve some of that pressure and allow yourself to make choices that are different and new to help you feel a little more invigorated as well as liberated.

Say ‘Yes’: Break your patterns by doing something you wouldn’t normally do. So say ‘yes’ to the next non life-threatening opportunity that comes your way. Again it could be the smallest thing like doing something different on your lunch break or bigger like a fun weekend away. This is a good way to bring in spontaneity and experience new things.

Be Mindful: When we’re stuck in a rut, it’s easy to respond to feelings of despondency and hopelessness by resisting and not acknowledging what’s happening. Don’t shut it out. If we’re mindful of what it is that is making us feel this way, we can then acknowledge it and then work towards changing it for the better.

Changing routines and habits does not necessarily mean forgetting about the goals you want to reach. But the journey to reaching them can be one that is exciting and one that can bring joy. It’s a very empowering thing to know that you have choice around whether you remain stuck in mundane routine and that to step out of that rut can actually support you in achieving what you want in life.