Routines Support Cognitive Function
Having a daily routine and regular habits supports cognitive function and may even free people up to be more creative. Research has shown that having regular work processes allows workers to spend less cognitive energy on recurring tasks. This can support focus and creativity for more complex tasks.
Think of typical morning routines, taking a usual route to work, grabbing a warm beverage along the way, saying hello to coworkers, flipping on a computer, or opening a calendar. Having habits such as these can set the stage for a productive workday. Daily rituals and regular routines and habits can support older adults to function better in their home environments.
If taking medications at the same time and putting the keys in their spot is part of a daily routine, less energy will be spent looking for lost objects and worrying about maintaining one’s health, freeing up time for other things that people want to do in their day.
Routines Promote Health
Regular routines can also help people feel like they have control over their daily lives and that they can take positive steps in managing their health. Making time for exercise within routines can help meet recommended daily activity. This is especially relevant now, as research shows that people who reduced their activity levels during the pandemic could experience enduring health effects.
As people increase activity outside of their homes, they might consider taking transit to school and work, returning to organized fitness activities and the gym, and finding opportunities to include movement throughout the day. Other ways that routines can support health include meal preparation, getting enough sleep, activities that seem simple, but can pay dividends in healthy aging over a lifetime.
Small Steps to Build Routines
If you think your daily routines could use a tune-up, consider some small steps:
- Use a Day-Timer or smartphone app to organize your activities and put the things that you want to do in your schedule.
- Choose a regular time to wake up and to go to bed, and try to stick to it most days of the week.
- Make physical activity manageable with neighborhood walks or bike rides a few times per week.
- Start a new hobby or reengage in a past one.
Routines have the power to help us manage our health and our work, home, and community lives. Consider the routines you want to keep and the meaningful things you need in your daily lives to stay productive, happy, and healthy.