Why do some people need routine and others shy away from it?

On vocals routinein the Treccani dictionary we read: “practice, experience, skill that has been acquired through experience and not through rules. Mode, rhythm of life and activity that is repeated day by day, substantially unchanged, with a sense of monotony”. In short, seen in this way it might seem like a not exactly positive characteristic. But to many people there routine like it. They need it. If we take a dip into the past, even some of the greatest geniuses were habits. Beethoven woke up at dawn and made the coffee himself, counting 60 beans per cup. Michelangelo used to sleep in his clothes and boots, never taking them off. Virginia Wolf wrote standing up because she believed it was the only way to produce anything meaningful. Marcel Proust woke up between three and six in the afternoon, while Einstein loved to play Mozart on the violin during birdwatching excursions. If for some these routine attitudes represent a safe haven to land in, and which makes them feel good, others shun them. But is repetitiveness, in general, a positive or negative characteristic?

Because we seek routine

The experts of Guidapsicologi.it they explained how the routine is one connection very powerful neural. The brain, in energy saving mode, will choose the behavior that involves the least effort, i.e. the routine one. Depending on the type of habit, the effects on our psycho-physical well-being can be more or less positive. In this regard, experts provide us with some valuable tips for recognizing and learning how to dismantle negative routines and how to create new ones.

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Get used to new routines

The brain has the characteristic of plasticity, or the ability to continually making new connections neural for to adapt to the environment in which it is immersed. This restructuring occurs both because some connections are severed and then established alternative routesand why yes suitable for the environment, as in the case of learning and creating new routines. Brain plasticity is the anatomical rearrangement of the connections between neurons (synaptic connections). It’s right there neuroplasticity which allows us to be flexible and adaptable to any circumstance. An example? We have adapted to wearing a mask, which is nothing more than a new habit required by the circumstances that we have incorporated into our daily lives. Reconfiguring the brain can be more or less tiring and complex, but with practice, perseverance, patience, everything that is proposed can be achieved.

Routine: the effects on the brain

Routines are neither good nor bad habits. Based on the interest, benefits or consequences for each one, it will be possible to establish whether they are positive or negative. Routine behaviors represent a fundamental aid for the brain and its functioning, as they allow him to consume as little energy as possible. To explain this condition let’s take the routine of driving as an example. In the learning stage, the brain needs to process each stage of the process for about six months. During this stage we learn to start the engine, to shift from one gear to another by pressing the clutch. We are aware of our feet moving between the pedals, of our hands gripping the steering wheel and when we release to press the accelerator or shift gears. Once the process is automated, we gain awareness and shift gears as the engine requires without paying virtually any attention. By automating the process, the brain is saving energy and can focus, for example, on observing the landscape along the road on which we are travelling, talking to the passenger next to us, listening to music.

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Routine behaviors represent a fundamental aid for the brain and its functioning, as they allow it to consume as little energy as possible.

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Pros and cons of routines

Routines are directly proportional to brain plasticity. For people who are constantly immersed in learning processes, it is easier to consolidate routines than those who are not active from the point of view of learning. For example, a student has more neuroplasticity than a person who has no interest in learning more than she already knows, regardless of age. But we must not forget that we all have the ability to reprogram our brains. Through practice, we strengthen the ability of our brain to create new neural circuits. People who repeat the same behaviors over and over use their brain power to strengthen their existing neural circuits, thus creating resistance to learning. And their brain system becomes stiffer. That doesn’t mean they can’t learn, but they will need more practice and more stimulation to teach their brain new ways. The brain is like a muscle: the more it trains, the fitter it will be. Be careful though: when a habit goes from being a repeated behavior to an addiction, it turns against us. Let’s take as an example a person who likes to play sports and consolidates the routine of going to the gym every day. When this action becomes essential, if you feel bad about yourself when you don’t play sports, if you lose the ability to decide, to adapt, to be flexible, then the negative routine.

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The brain is like a muscle: the more it trains, the fitter it will be.

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Routines: a necessity?

Routines are totally subjective. They depend on both personality of everyone, who gives freedom or rigidity which implies the routine itself, An important role is given by the commitment and individual choices. We need to know how to recognize what we want, and what makes us feel better. However, it is worth remembering that establishing routines and creating new habits allows us to consume less energy and to be able to open up to new stimuli and nuances of reality.

Break free from negative routines

The best way to eliminate a negative routine is to give our brain an alternative to what we want to delete. It’s easier modify a neural circuit than to create and consolidate a new one. In some cases, the tiling of a professional of psychology, to undertake work that helps strengthen self-esteem, work with limiting beliefs, and thus facilitate the change of habits. It is very important to incorporate as fixed points: practice, perseverance And patience.

Wellness routines

Mental well-being: practicing meditation or mindfulness, talking about topics that stimulate reflection and self-questioning, undertaking psychological therapy, reading, studying foreign languages, cultivating one’s hobbies.

Physical well-being: exercise, dance, sing, walk, stroll around the city, eat healthy foods and follow a Mediterranean diet, avoid alcohol and stimulant, carbonated and sugary drinks.

Emotional well-being: Connecting and sharing emotions, psychotherapy, yoga, meditation.

Why do some people need routine and others shy away from it?