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Published on September 14, 2020

How to Quit Your Boring Routine and Reignite Your Life

How to Quit Your Boring Routine and Reignite Your Life

Time passes in the blink of an eye. Before you know it, you are in your 30s, wondering where the last decade went. Or, you might be even in your forties or fifties, asking yourself the same questions like “Why am I stuck in this boring routine?” and “Is this all there is to life?” Each day, you blindly march to the same metronomic beat.

Research shows that people are quick to feel regret mainly for things we haven’t done, as opposed to something we have done. In their metanalytic review of 11 regret studies, researchers Neal Roese and Amy Summerville discovered the top six domains participants reported experiencing regret (in descending order): education, career, romance, parenting, self, and leisure.[1]

Drastic change is not essential to start basking in new rays of sunshine in your life. You’ll discover that hidden gems are sparkling with excitement in the most unsuspecting places. You just need to learn how to see them more closely through a different lens.

1. Remember You Are Never Too Old to Learn

In 1936, Anne Martindell dropped out of Smith College at the end of her first year, subject to her father’s disapproval of women being educated.[2] In 2002, Martindell returned to Smith College to accomplish both her undergraduate and honorary degrees at the age of 87.

Even after serving a colorful career in politics, including becoming State Senator of New Jersey and Ambassador to New Zealand and Western Samoa, Martindell wanted to go back to school.

While going back to formal schooling might not have you champing at the bit, there is no time like the present to exercise your curiosity. The opportunity to learn about pretty much anything is at your fingertips if you have access to a computer. Even Harvard and Oxford universities offer their courses online!

Is there a piece of Martindell within you? Have you started anything that you didn’t get to finish? Is there something you always wanted to learn about or a skill you wanted to develop?

You get to make this learning adventure as long or short as you want. Most importantly, choose an activity that excites you and tickles you emotionally and mentally in all the right places.

2. Never Take the Same Road Twice

A good friend once whispered a golden rule to me that she always stuck to when she traveled in her 20s and still applies today: “Never go the same route twice.” Some of the most incredible places she discovered in her travels were due to forcing herself to get off the beaten track.

My friend used to stray away from mass tour groups and guides’ conventional recommendations. In return, she met incredible locals who shared the undocumented history of the places she was visiting, including stories that were only passed down through word of mouth, generation to generation.

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You don’t have to travel anywhere you haven’t visited to experience that, though. You can make incredible discoveries by becoming an expert tourist in your own hometown or village!

When you walk the dog, for instance, go to a street that you haven’t entered before. Go barista speed-dating and get your morning brew at a different café than your usual haunt. Start taking minor detours and routes to shake up your boring routine. You won’t just discover new places but likely bump into some fascinating people along the way, too.

3. Introduce More’ Play’ at Work

When your workday is flooded with a never-ending to-do list, your pre-frontal cortex is swamped.

With continuous demands to produce something, completing tasks, planning, and critically evaluating how to improve your work, you may become cognitively numb by midday. Continuing down this road may cause you to think of walking entirely away from the job that you used to love. Somehow, you will stop remembering how to enjoy it.

To avoid that, doing fun activities in your workplace can have you tap-dancing your way to work instead of dragging your feet. According to a recent survey, Talent LMS found 89% of respondents reported they felt more productive, and 88% reported feeling happier after using gamified elements at work.[3]

While it takes some planning, creativity, and consultation with colleagues and employees, transforming your work experience is possible. It can reignite and completely change your boring workplace routine.

Gamification doesn’t have to be complicated. The simpler, the better!

For instance, designate an area for small games such as junior-sized skittles, quoits, golf-putting, or darts. For every task that you complete, specify different numbers of tries.

When you achieve successful wins, reward yourself with something that’s equivalent to your efforts. Similarly, you can decide on rewards for a specific number of wins.

If you don’t have time for board games, consider having short-term ‘races’ with colleagues to get things done. Say, you might be working on activities with unique completion targets. Then, you can compete on who manages to reach their goals first or the deadline you have agreed upon among yourselves.

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In this case, try setting short time-frame targets. Compare how you both went at the deadline. Review and share your progress or lack thereof. You might work on individual projects, but you still are driving, supporting each other. Thus, you can connect with your colleagues in the process.

Here are more ways to make a routine exciting again: 30 Ways To Add Fun To Your Daily Routine

4. Tap Into Your Creativity

The benefits of having a creative outlet are numerous. You are not only learning something else but also allowing those parts of your brain that churn and burn through your workday to take a breather.

Creating something from scratch can be intensely satisfying and rewarding emotionally and psychologically. You can undergo an emotional journey, igniting your senses in different ways and intensities.

Undertaking a manual labor type of projects such as pottery, woodwork, interior design, or renovation can have you accessing a fuller range of emotions. It can be intensely satisfying to see the pieces of your creative jigsaw puzzle come together.

Even if you don’t feel you have a creative bone in your body, reading creative literature (e.g., poetry, screenplays, or autobiographies) or viewing artworks causes you to feel pleasure. As you read, you subconsciously search for individual connections with what you are reading. The more you search for its value, the more pleasurable reward systems become activated.

In your already full lifestyle, consider planting spots in your schedule that allow you to let your creative juices show.

Be curious.

Experiment.

You may be amazed once you discover the passions and talents you haven’t realized you have.

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5. Create Daily Experiential goals

Working through your great bucket list (and continually adding to it) is highly recommended. However, you can also enjoy small-scale tasters (as listed below):

  • When you go out, order something you would not usually order.
  • Visit a restaurant you wouldn’t usually visit.
  • Take a different route to get to a destination that you visit regularly.
  • Listen to a different podcast (or parts thereof) each day about something you want to learn or are merely curious about.
  • Let your brain breathe and escape by listening to an audiobook.
  • Go to lunch with a different colleague.
  • Try to have a walk-and-talk meeting instead of conducting them all in the office.
  • Discover and listen to new artists on your Spotify account when exercising or wanting some audio company.
  • Add a minute of crazy, free-form dancing to the end of your exercise routine before you cool down.

Do one thing every day that is a little left field of your everyday habits and routines. In a short space of time, it may be able to lift your mood.

The great thing is that none of these ideas require you to acquire or purchase any tools to experience them or make them happen. You can also decide to do these activities on a whim, considering they don’t require grand planning or assistance. This article might help you, too: 10 Simple Ways to Add Spontaneity into Your Daily Routine

6. Surprise Someone or Be Surprised

Say goodbye to a boring routine and say hello to spontaneity! Doing so helps reignite not just your personal life but your work life as well.

With your intimate partner or close friends, for instance, write down the things you would love to experience or receive on different pieces of paper and put them in a jar. Allow them to pull one out and surprise you with it at any time! Then, do the same for your friends or partner.

Giving presents and gifts is not the ultimate goal here. Instead, it’s about creating opportunities for unexpected delight. It’s about showing someone how much you appreciate, value, and recognize their presence in your life.

Dr. Gary Chapman described the five love languages: physical touch, words of affirmation, acts of service, giving gifts, and quality time.[4] Even if intimacy is its primary focus, his suggestions help deepen love in all human relationships.

Don’t wait for special occasions to surprise someone. Random acts of kindness often speak louder than words both in your personal and work life.

7. Learn the Art of Giving

Researchers Dr. Tristen Inagaki and Dr. Naomi Eisenberger found that we experience pleasure when we give to others more than when we receive it. In a study, they found the participants providing support to others trying to complete a challenging task had less activation in stress-response areas.[5] Similarly, those who offered support activated parts of the brain associated with caregiving and experiencing intrinsic reward and personal satisfaction.

Quitting your boring routine doesn’t always mean focusing inwardly and crafting grand plans to alter everything. You can improve your life by directing your attention toward supporting and helping someone else.

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Giving compliments costs nothing. Neither does making someone a cup of coffee when you’re about to make one yourself. Declutter your home and workspace and post items you no longer need on give-away platforms. If you have incredible skills and knowledge in an area, you can become someone’s mentor.

There can be no better way to feel alive than by building and nurturing positive connections.

8. Shake Up Your Boring Routine Regularly

Quitting your boring routine starts with disrupting it, to the point that it can no longer be called as such. However, be careful not to introduce too much disruption at once. Consider introducing a change in small amounts to test if everything goes well for you. Review your initial experiences but don’t give up too early if you’re not feeling instantly gratified.

Anything outside a boring routine can feel jarring, even if it comes from a healthy and positive change. Instead, give yourself time to adjust and let the new become gradually familiar. In a short period, your routine can be far from boring as you start seeing and experiencing the world through a new lens.

Is It Time to Upgrade Your Image?

Coco Chanel famously said that when a woman cuts her hair, she is about to change her life.

The decision to interpret Chanel’s quote literally or metaphorically is 100% up to you. However, on a more subtle note, you might want to consider doing something different with your image or everyday look all the same.

When you look back pleasantly at a different reflection of yourself in the mirror, you won’t be able to help but feel different. It will reveal another side of you that’s never been unleashed before.

You’re likely to get mixed reactions from the people you see regularly, but that’s okay.

“No matter what happens, always keep your childhood innocence. It’s the most important thing.” — Federico Felini

More on Breaking Boring Routines

Featured photo credit: Johnny Cohen via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Malachi Thompson

Leadership & Performance Edge Strategist

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Published on September 25, 2020

5 Powerful Self-Care Ideas for When Life Is Stressful

5 Powerful Self-Care Ideas for When Life Is Stressful

Stress doesn’t discriminate. It affects everyone, invariably in different ways. Regardless of how stress shows up in your life, I think we can all agree that it’s present. When it does show up, it takes over the show. It then becomes difficult to stay in the present moment or show gratitude for what and who we have in our life. In the eye of the stress storm, everything is tossed around into oblivion. This is probably when self-care finally comes to our mind.

How Does Stress Show Up?

On a physical scale, stress tends to be behind many of our typical ailments, such as headaches, insomnia, muscle tension, or body aches and pain.[1] When we’re in stressful situations, our body activates our fight-or-flight response. According to the American Institute of Stress, when the body is in this mode due to stress, “the body’s sympathetic nervous system is activated due to the sudden release of hormones. The sympathetic nervous system stimulates the adrenal glands, triggering the release of catecholamines, which include adrenaline and noradrenaline. This results in an increase in heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing rate.”[2]

Why is this important? While our fight-or-flight response is extremely helpful when we’re in situations that risk our survival, not every situation is that dire. However, the body doesn’t know how to differentiate between such scenarios. Rather, we become accustomed to seeing every stressful situation as dire, and essentially locked into this fight-or-flight response automatically. This causes us to burn out because our body is constantly fighting or fleeing from threats that are not causing us any real harm.

On a mental and emotional scale, according to the Mayo Clinic, “Stress symptoms can affect your body, your thoughts and feelings, and your behavior.” Everything is interconnected. When our physical body takes a toll due to stress, this has a domino effect on how we process our thoughts and feelings. Therefore, it is not uncommon to see correlations between depression and anxiety when it comes to dealing with stress.

How to Combat Stress?

Below are five self-care ideas for combating stress in your life. Consider implementing them into your daily routine for the best results.

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1. Start a Brain Dump Writing Exercise

When you’re overwhelmed with thoughts, it can become very difficult to stay present and focused. This could affect you at work, in school, or in your relationships. It’s as if your mind were filled to the brim with thoughts that are constantly competing for your attention. If left unattended, this can affect your performance or your state of being. Stress is just brewing!

One exercise to get this under control is called a Brain Dump, and it’s exactly how it sounds. Start by getting comfortable with a pen and paper or your favorite journal. Without any special formatting or introduction, just start writing any and all thoughts that come up. Consider your paper a blank canvas onto which you’re going to spill every thought, no matter how small or unimportant. This can look like a laundry list, a jumble of words, or a paragraph. Don’t think too much of how it looks. The idea is to give your thoughts an exit. Once they’re on paper, they’re no longer swimming in your head for attention.

Once you have them written down, leave them as they are. We have a tendency to want to fix our thoughts. Instead, allow them to simply exist as they are — they’re not right or wrong. Consider coming back to this exercise daily or whenever you feel like you have a lot on your mind.

2. Sweat It Out

There is nothing more therapeutic than moving the physical body when it feels the weight of stress. Energetically, we carry our day in our body! If we’ve had a particularly difficult day, that energy is going to feel tense and unsettling. This is why it’s so important to move and really break a sweat!

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America,[3]

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“Scientists have found that regular participation in aerobic exercise has been shown to decrease overall levels of tension, elevate and stabilize mood, improve sleep, and improve self-esteem.”

Find what exercise regimen works for you, and commit to it for a few days per week. Scientists have also found that even 10-15 minutes of aerobic exercise can have a tremendous effect on your body. Go for a run, take a spin class or a power yoga class, or dance the stress away in Zumba. Whatever gets your heart rate up and breaks a sweat is one of the perfect self-care ideas to keep the stress away.

3. Seek the Care of a Therapist

Sometimes writing out our thoughts and feelings doesn’t seem quite enough. This is common and to be expected. After all, we are complex human beings who want to understand and process our emotions on a deeper level. This is why having a regular therapy session is so beneficial!

In the presence of a professional, we can open up about what stressful situations we’re going through. We don’t have to keep our emotions bottled up, and we know that our honesty will be protected and safeguarded.

Additionally, when we’re feeling stressed, we often want to simply vent and get things off of our chest. Having someone on the receiving end who will simply listen and hold space is a truly healing gift. We can often leave the session feeling more empowered, seen, and offloaded of the stress we brought in.

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Lastly, we may be able to receive guidance from our therapist on a particular situation we’re struggling with. Having someone else’s perspective on something we’re too emotionally close to can be just the right solution.

Here are more self-care ideas from a therapist: Self Care Tips During Difficult Times (A Therapist’s Advice).

4. Interrupt Your Day

This may seem like a derailing technique, but give it a shot! Interrupting your day means introducing something entirely new or random into a routine that is very monotonous or typical.

If your work or school day is the same sequence of events every single day, bringing in an interruption can be quite conducive to your productivity and creativity. This can look like pausing in the middle of the day for a yoga stretch at your desk or in your office. It could be playing your favorite playlist in-between meetings or taking a walk outside for lunch. Not only does this stir up new energy for your day, but it can also de-stress your day.

As I said in the earlier tip, when we’re too close to a situation or conflict, we have a harder time breaking away. We’re so emotionally and mentally invested that we don’t see how that proximity is affecting our health. So, interrupt yourself when you’re feeling stress coming on, and do something fun, random, and refreshing.

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5. Get Some Energy Work Done

Energy work is anything that is being done to improve the circulation and energetic flow of the body. This could be a massage, Reiki session, chiropractic adjustment, or acupuncture. As I said in a previous tip, moving the body helps move the energy that is blocked or stuck. This is why exercise is so important. However, sometimes we need a session where that work is done for us by a licensed professional. In such treatments, we have the luxury to relax and receive the benefits of the treatment. It’s a beautiful way to self-care!

Final Thoughts

Stress is unfortunately a common part of our life. It affects everyone, but to what extent it affects you is personal. One thing is for sure, and that is that stress has a tremendous effect on our physical, mental, and emotional state. This is why regular exercise is so important, as well as mental stimulation and emotional release. These self-care ideas won’t necessarily guard you from ever feeling stressed, but they will help you manage it better.

More Self-Care Ideas

Featured photo credit: Alisa Anton via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Mayo Clinic: Stress Management
[2] The American Institute of Stress: How the Fight or Flight Response Works
[3] Anxiety and Depression Association of America: Physical Activity Reduces Stress

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