We hear a lot about how routine may drive you into depression. How it can make your life miserable, by making your days all the same, gray and boring. This may be especially relevant for people who work in the office. You get up, get a shower, breakfast, commute and then spend all day next to the same desk just to get back home tired and not wanting to do anything else. This can be even worse these days during COVID as a lot of us spend most of our time at home, thus making it all even more static.
Well, what if we can turn this around? What if we can harness this routine and actually benefit from it? Routine can actually put a smile on your face, recharge your battery and make you just a little happier in that moment.
I'm sure if you ever had an interest in productivity, you've come across a term - morning routine. However, as I alluded earlier it does not necessarily need to take the whole morning. It can also be small moments scattered throughout the day and week. A routine could be you enjoying your favourite cup of coffee or tea at the same time each day. It can be a short walk after or during work to refresh your mind, an interesting book. Heck, it can even be cooking food.
The important thing is being mindful. Give your full attention to those small routine things you do. Notice everything about them - every smell, sound, touch and visual. Engage all senses and try to look into that activity with a mindset of a child. Pay attention to all those little details that you skimp through.
Let's take a simple act of drinking coffee. Feel how the cup radiates heat to your hands. Notice the smell. Does it bring any memories or feelings? Look at the steam coming up from the cup. How does it make you feel? Enjoy the present, the moment, the realization that you are about to drink your favourite beverage. Then take a sip and feel the taste. Feel the temperature and aftertaste. It's a simple activity that many do daily and don't even notice. I personally, really enjoy the feeling that comes with drinking coffee. I usually do it while working and that feeling of extra focus is really nice. If I'm in a meeting however, that feeling goes unnoticed. Therefore, I try to do it when I'm actually coding. And like mentioned before, with each sip I try to notice it and really appreciate it.
Drinking coffee doesn't sound like a routine you say? Well make it one. Find a time when you enjoy it the most. It works best if you can find time that would be available for that activity the most consistently. Maybe there is something you already do daily. Find it and make it mindful. I for example, drink a glass of water when I wake up. I found it much more interesting when I started paying attention to it. I go to watch the buildings lit by the morning sun. Notice how the light is different then during the day or evening. I listen to the birds. Then drink water and observe how it wakes up my body.
Your routine day is filled with mundane things you can find joy in. Are you commuting via public transport? Observe the people. Notice how some are sleepy and some are up and happy. What do you think their day is going to be? Maybe you are driving to work? Pay attention to the road of course, but also notice the sky. If it is an early morning or late evening, the sky is usually beautiful. Is it raining? Notice the droplets and how they distort the light when you are waiting at the stop. Are you stuck behind the desk all day? Make a reminder to simply stand up and watch through the window. Maybe walk outside and notice everything around you, feel the sun warming you up.
Life is beautiful and exciting. All those little things, however repetitive and boring they are, can be the ones that bring you peace and clarity. Find and embrace them. Add new ones if you feel like it. Simply paying attention and giving your mind and body predictable little joyful moments will make your day colorful again.