Sunday, April 7, 2013

The comfort of a good routine

My stepdaughter was on Spring Break this past week so I took off from work to spend time with her.  My sister held her annual Easter Egg hunt the day before Easter.  We went to church with my family on Easter Sunday and had lunch with family afterwards.  We took a two day trip to Baltimore with family on Tuesday and Wednesday.

I always have to prepare myself mentally the week or so before a vacation.  It's not that I don't enjoy the time off from work and spending time with people I love - I do.  It's just that it's very hard for me to deviate from my routine.  My weeks are typically quite structured.  I get up at 5 AM, get ready to go, and arrive to work between 7 and 730.  Even what I eat for breakfast rarely changes: oatmeal with brown sugar and fruit. I get off of work at 4 PM.  I go home, change clothes, and head to the gym.  I spend about 45 minutes at the gym (where I do a strength training routine and either jog on the treadmill or use the elliptical), I come home, change into sweats, and relax.  My husband and I eventually sit down for dinner and spend a little time together before I go to bed around 930.  That's my week, at least Monday through Thursday.  On Fridays, I come home and try to clean up around the house.  Sometimes I meet up with friends for dinner.  Saturdays are free days.  Sundays I go to my parents' and have lunch with my family.

I know, my life isn't very exciting.  Some people might say it's quite boring.  Not me.  I like the calm predictability of structure and routine.  It's familiar.  It's comfortable.

Now I realize I'm probably a little too comfortable with my routine; I have a hard time deviating from it.  I hate when someone calls me at work and asks me to accompany them to some spontaneously planned event that same evening.  I'll usually go, depending on the event, but if it requires me to skip the gym then I end up feeling guilty.  I realize that this is slightly unrealistic.  That's why I typically end up attending whatever event I've been invited too, despite feeling a bit guilty.  Just because I feel a particular way doesn't mean I have to act on those emotions.

And then the vacation inevitably comes to an end.  This is where a little mindfulness is helpful.  It's not unusual to start lamenting that vacation is "almost over" several days before it ends.  Every time this thought comes up it brings with it feelings of disappointment.  These feelings keep you from fully enjoying what's happening now, while you're still on vacation.  I've done pretty well at avoiding this trap.  What I have a more difficult time with is the disappointment that comes when vacation is officially over.  I find myself reliving everything I did and wondering if I made the most of it.  Having looked forward to this vacation for weeks, I find myself thinking about what I have to look forward to now.  Why is there this need to have something to anticipate?  Why not be satisfied with the vacation I've had and get back to my normal routine? I realize this is a common habit; perhaps it's human nature...


  1. The mind likes to be 'fed', so it feel busy. If you relax and enjoy, the mind will creep back in, and say, "What about me?" …and that what not being present feels like. Look at the one who observes all this…and maybe slowly you will disengage the mind. Look at children before they get into the mind, and how much they enjoy life, and we discount this as not being in touch with reality.

  2. I'm the same way. Completely understand!


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