Tuesday, March 1, 2011

In a Rut? Change Up Your Routine.

Rut [ruht]: noun, a fixed or established mode of procedure or course of life, usually dull or unpromising. Does this sound like your life? Are you stuck in a rut, desperate to find a way to break free of your boring routine? Well, it's time to start adding some much-needed spice to your life.

So often we feel helpless and frustrated with the status quo of everyday living. Going through the motions and feeling a lack of control in your life can be disheartening. The good news is that you are in 100 percent total control. By taking responsibility for the decisions you make and the feelings you choose to respond with during any given situation, you hold the key to change.

Rule 1: Change Your Mindset
Many of the things you want to do, but are hesitant to do, lie just outside your comfort zone. We grow when we feel uncomfortable and challenged. The next time you are in a situation in which you feel overwhelmed, anxious, angry, irritated or experience negative emotions, take back control of how you feel. Do not fall into the trap of instantly reacting to situations in your life; begin responding.

Rule 2: Feed Fitness
The mind-body connection is undeniable. How you feel is directly related to how well you take care of your body. It does not take much effort to make a positive impact on your body.

If you are not currently exercising, check out a local fitness club. The very act of joining and spending just 30 minutes or so four times a week, investing in yourself, will suppress that rut. If you are exercising on a regular basis, change up your routine by doing exercises you have never done before.

Rule 3: Explore New Ideas
Do you have a hobby you are passionate about? Would you like to share that passion with others? Do you want to start a new hobby? Then do it. For example, visit Meetup.com, a wonderful Web site where you can find like-minded individuals who are passionate about the things you love.

One of the most exciting parts about Meetup is that you can venture out into hobbies, topics or subjects that you may have been interested in learning more about, but did not know where to begin. This is an opportunity to meet new people and form friendships with people who share common interests.

Rule 4: Control the Clock
Change your normal routine of going to bed and waking up. Choose to stay up longer or wake up earlier to invest time in yourself. Take some much needed me time, free from interruptions of family, friends, roommates, television and the overall white noise of daily living. Take this opportunity to read a good book, listen to music, write in a journal, focus on your goals and map out your activities for the day.

This is a time period with no pressure, deadlines, anxiety, interference from anything or anyone. Feeling a sense of control over our lives fosters self-empowerment, self-reliance and self-confidence. What better way to control your life than by controlling your time?

Rule 5: Make Your Own Map
Normal routines get ingrained in your brain, to the point that every stop and turn is mindless. This is the epitome of ritual rut! You go from home to work and then work to home, making ceremonial stops along the way. How about changing up that boredom and choosing an alternate route?

Instead take a different highway, choose a more scenic route, go straight instead of turning, be creative and become your own GPS.

Rule 6: Just Say Yes
Whenever you feel like saying "no" to something or someone, just decide to say yes! When we say no, it is usually because something is pushing us outside of our comfort zone. We tend to pull back into our zone because of an underlying sense of fear.

Face the fear and do it anyway. Let the transformation begin! In most cases, you'll probably say to yourself, I can't believe I almost didn't do that.

Rule 7: Volunteer
The act of volunteering your time, energy, expertise, companionship, friendship and energy to helping others will change you forever! By taking attention off yourself and devoting it to others, you will automatically feel more happiness and less stagnation.

People often feel they have limited time in their own lives and that finding more time for volunteering is impossible. Yes, our lives can certainly be crazy and hectic in this fast-paced society. But if you take the opportunity to really look at how you spend your days, you may find opportunities to replace trivial wasted moments.

Rule 8: Try a Change of Taste
The simple act of changing your food selections can bust your rut. Do you always order the same thing off a menu? The simple act of changing your food selections can bust your rut. Do you always order the same thing off a menu?

Food is an emotional experience. It's how we socialize and foster relationships. Change up your menu at work and home. Choose different foods for breakfast and dinner. If you go out to lunch with colleagues at work, pick a different venue every few days.

If you want to make over your life, start with a few little changes and work your way to bigger ones. A primary reason people fail in their quest for lasting change is that they alter too many things at once. In their zest for getting out of a rut, they alter everything and it ends up being an overload. Slow and steady wins the race. Small adjustments in your routine can have enormous impact on how you feel. Have you ever had a small pebble stuck in your shoe? Did it hurt every time you took a step? To get rid of the pain, you simply take the pebble out of your shoe. Now take control and remove the small pebbles from your life. Small is big.

This article was written by Perry Nickelston, DC, clinical director of the Pain Laser Center in Ramsey, N.J. It was originally published in To Your Health newsletter, an MPA Media Publication.

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