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Is your routine actually running you down?

As much as adopting some daily routines into our lives might benefit us, we have lost connection with our inner knowing, says Ellen Moran.

I’m one of those lucky people with a very constant workflow. It’s easy to plan my life around that. I have a routine for how my life “could” look each day, and I’m so grateful for that routine. It makes me feel good, I feel accomplished, I feel aligned.

Meditation? Yes. Drunk 3L of water? Yes. Exercise, been creative, messaged my loved ones, journals, three servings of fruit and veg, answered all of my emails, written an article, kept my steps up, eaten lovingly prepared food, taught yoga, practiced my own yoga, had a shower and did my full face cleansing routine, cleaned my space, watered my plants, loved up my puppy, pulled my tarot cards, learnt something new? Yes.

It sounds like a lot. It looks like a lot. For a week, let alone a day. But I am so goddamn attached to my routine. And sometimes that can be very negative, so I want to start a conversation about how routines could (potentially) be more damaging than they are helpful. None of those practices are damaging on their own, but my attachment to them (and where that has come from) isn’t healthy.

Our society has come up with ideas for us to chase. Media channels shout at us each day: “BE HEALTHY, BE BEAUTIFUL, BE STRONG, BE SMART, BE POWERFUL, BE MORE BE MORE. No, not that way... THIS WAY... BY BUYING THIS PRODUCT/GUIDE/INGREDIENT”. It’s impossible to listen to it all, let alone commit to everything we hear. And if what we are told to do isn’t working for us, it’s taboo to admit. “You mean... barley greens powder doesn’t make your insides glisten like a diamond!? What on earth could be wrong with you!?”

As much as adopting some daily routines into our lives might benefit us, we have lost connection with our inner knowing. Clever marketing has done a fantastic job of making us forget that our intuition can show us what to do at each moment for our bodies. We need to get a bit wild with ourselves.

So, for a week I tried a new routine – of listening. Some of my experiences were very wholesome and enriching, others made my day a lot harder. In each moment when I had a routine action that I thought I needed to accomplish, I asked myself four questions about my body.

What does it want? What does it need? What do I think I need? Do I need it?

I didn’t get up at 5am to go to the gym. My alarm went off at 6am and I meditated, made herbal tea and stretched. I didn’t wait to have breakfast as late as I could (because starving yourself is fine when you call it intermittent fasting), I ate when I felt hungry. I went to the gym at lunch, keeping my momentum moving for the day and not wasting an hour scrolling. I didn’t watch fluff and nonsense videos on the commute home, I drew something beautiful.

Some things weren’t so positive. I didn’t have a prepped lunch, thinking I would listen to what my body actually wanted. After wasting $8 on the worst cauliflower rice that I’ve ever had from Coles... I won’t be doing that again. I didn’t drink 3L of water because I wasn’t super thirsty, but my digestion felt that later. I didn’t take the time to cleanse my face properly (the bed was calling me), and I woke up with a zit. The lack of water definitely helped with that too. And the awful lunch. Ugh.

So, some of my routines have purpose. Right now, it’s good for me to nourish my skin and hydrate as much as I can. It’s good for me to ease slowly into the day and move my body a little later. It’s good for me to use my dead time to be creative. These are good for me NOW.

Notice the things that you do because you feel like you should. Notice which of those are actually benefiting you. Could they be done differently? Because right now, are they serving you? Ask yourself those four questions. Listen to the answers.

Be softer with yourself, listen to your body and become its friend. You have so much time left here, why not enjoy it?

Ellen Moran is a practising yoga teacher, artist and writer, currently working at Momentum Media as a Relationship Manager. This opinion feature was originally posted on her blog, With Intention.

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“Kindness is the language that the deaf can hear and the blind can see.” – Mark Twain