One of the great things about routines is they start from something that’s important to us. Think about what you want to get better at: physical activity, time spent with family and friends, cooking, eating better? Chances are that you already value these things. Making changes to or building on your routines can be just as intuitive.
“It’s like rolling a snowball,” says Amanda Joaquim, team physiotherapist for the Toronto Raptors, “it starts small, and then it becomes big. You can make small changes and they become big over time.”
Joaquim is a big fan of choosing physical activities that compliment your day-to-day life. Feel the need to come back down from hectic days? Try yoga or stretching. Want to relieve pent-up stress? Go for something more rigorous, like boxing.
Our daily lives don’t always follow the same rhythm. Maybe the person who needed the high-impact outlet finds their needs are different when work calms down or the weather changes, for example. They already prioritize fitness. They may want to build on that routine to switch up the way they’ve been working out.
Another way to build on your existing routines is to include friends and family. If you’re having trouble sticking to routines, include a friend. They can help keep you accountable to that routine and make you less likely to back out. The benefit of a long walk suddenly becomes two-fold: a great physical activity and a meaningful opportunity to catch up with a friend.
“There are a lot of benefits to figuring out how you can integrate your family into your own health and wellness practices, and kids are a big part of that,” says Alex Auerbach, team psychologist with the Raptors.
Auerbach notes that children learn a lot from watching their parents and seeing how they behave. Maybe you’ve been trying to institute a mindfulness practice into your routine? Auerbach says it can be helpful to invite your kids to meditate with you for a couple of minutes.
“We're socialized to sort of think of family time and work time as separate from me time,” Auerbach says. “But if you can bring your loved ones into your routines, it can make the routine better. It can also show your kids what it's like to live a healthy lifestyle.”
Something else to think about when building on routines: time of day. Are you more clear-headed and responsive in the morning? Think about moving then, rather than waiting for evenings, when you need to hype yourself up just to lace up your running shoes. Think of building on existing routines like reviving the good things you’re already doing. Think more along the lines of intuitive tune-ups and less huge overhauls.