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The Change Up: How Varying Your Routine Can Improve Brain Function

December 19th, 2019

Routine does not allow us to progress.

- Anonymous

Schedules, Schedules, Schedules

Many people like to have schedules and enjoy keeping to that schedule. Schedules can have many benefits, such as keeping one on a set path and helping avoid confusion in one’s day. Schedules can help alleviate anxiety and can help people get more done in a day. Therefore, schedules can help improve well-being and productivity.

So, you may think that having a schedule is the only way to go and that those without a schedule are lost and unproductive. While having a schedule is beneficial, there are plenty of people who live productive lives without adhering to a schedule, or who use a loose schedule and change up their routine. There are also benefits to this strategy, to having a loose schedule and altering one’s routine from time to time.

What Does Changing Up Your Routine Mean?

First, before discussing the benefits of changing up your routine, we first need to understand what it means to change up a routine…

To change up your routine means that you do something different than you normally do.

When you change up your routine you divert from the norm and incorporate something different into your day that you typically would not. It must be noted that this does not mean that you will completely throw your schedule out and depart from using a schedule altogether. As noted previously, schedules can have great benefits and can be used to your advantage. However, it can be useful to have a break from one’s schedule and incorporate new things into one’s day.

Benefits of Changing Up the Routine

There are several benefits that one may experience when changing up one's routine. Some of these benefits include: experiencing more excitement in life, encounter new and novel experiences, and possibly preventing burnout. All of these benefits may have an impact on one’s brain functioning and help improve one’s cognitive abilities.

Increased Enjoyment in Life

When setting a schedule in one’s life it is easy to get set into a pattern and not deviate from that pattern. In fact, this is one of the benefits of having a schedule: that your day can become predictable and help alleviate stress and anxiety from not knowing what is coming next.

However, this could end up being a drawback as well. It could be a drawback in that one may end up feeling like a robot, just going through life doing the same thing over and over again. A schedule doesn’t always allow for freedom to do other things, like things you may enjoy in life. Breaking from a routine, therefore, allows one to do things apart from what is in one’s schedule.

For example, if someone has meetings and work booked all day every day, then they probably aren’t getting much enjoyment from this schedule. Changing up the routine and incorporating something fun that they enjoy doing could help bring enjoyment and happiness to one’s day. This happiness can improve brain function as it allows one to get a break from the monotony and experience enjoyment.

Having New and Novel Experiences

Metamorphosis of the European Swallowtail (Papilio machaon), showing 3 instars: caterpillar, chrysalis and adult.

A schedule often has things that one does over and over again. There is typically an element of repetition that is experienced in schedules. Oftentimes, people schedule things that they have done previously, such as meetings or different elements of work. They may schedule other things as well which may be fun and healthy, such as workouts or spending time with friends, but typically these things are the same over and over again.

When you break from your routine, you may be more likely to do something different and new. These new experiences can help us gain clarity and help improve brain functioning by getting us out of the habit of doing the same thing repeatedly.

Preventing Burnout

Finally, another benefit to changing up one’s routine is preventing burnout. Burnout often occurs when someone does the same thing over and over and gets tired of the experience. They may feel down and start losing interest in what they are doing. Although they may be performing well, they may not feel valued or that their work is worthwhile.

By breaking from a routine and changing up one’s schedule, people may experience less burnout and have a more positive experience in their day-to-day life. When people are burnt out they often do not function as well, they are often exhausted and have reduced cognitive capacity. By changing up one’s routine, one may avoid exhaustion and improve their brain functioning.

Change is Good

Although there are certainly benefits to having a schedule and keeping to that schedule, there are also benefits to changing up one’s routine. Some of these benefits may improve both mental and physical health. Brain functioning could improve from switching up one’s routine every now and then.

If you are stuck in a schedule and the same routine day after day, try doing something different every once in a while, and see how you feel. It may just be the change you need!

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