Blame the Brain – redirect your routine!

Blame The Brain

Creating a new routine for a more fulfilling life.

Sometimes you get so caught up in your busy life and your good and bad habits, that you lose perspective and can’t see how anything could possibly change. However, a scientific study has shown two amazing things.
Before your start reading this blog, take a minute and think of your answers to the first 7 questions on your worksheet.

Write them down in your journal, to later reflect on.

Blame the Brain

…then be brave and take responsibility to teach it something new!

MIT neuroscientists have found that a small part of the brain’s prefrontal cortex actually has moment-by-moment control of which habits are put into action at individual moments. And some research has shown that our brains have the power to stop those same habits! (1) The study suggests that habits are not always inflexible and that they can be changed. Also, the brain prefers new habits to old ones, and often when habits are broken, they are not forgotten, but replaced with new ones.(2) 

So, this is great news for you if you want to get rid of old routines and habits, and replace them with better ones. Mindfulness meditation, which you can also experience during your yoga practice, has been shown to activate this very part of your brain! It is associated with concentration, decision-making and planning. (1)

It isn’t about changing your entire life and repressing old habits, but working with your brain and the realities you have. Habits are things that we do so often that, to our brains, they become automatic. First, we need the courage to admit to our bad habits. Then, it takes patience to unlearn things, retrain the brain and learn new habits. 

Be kind to yourself.

Your Routine, Your Plan

Some things can’t be changed, like washing and eating. So write down your current routine or, if you lack one, your duties (work, children, medication…). Write down only the necessities.

Example: Current Routine:
8am: alarm, check What’sApp and social media
8.15get up, open the curtains, shower, hair, getting dressed
8.40make a coffee and breakfast, settle in to start working from home
9am-1pm: work
1-2pm: make and eat lunch
2-5.30pm: work
5.30 -7.30pm: Spanish class (Tuesday)/yoga class (Wednesday)/dance class (Thursday)/homework/cleaning (other days)
7.30 – 9pm: make and eat dinner
9- 11pm: watch a series, film or read a book
11pm: go to bed

 

What you can adjust or work around to make (more) time for yoga, meditation or a mindfulness practice?
Create a clear picture. Highlight the things that always happen and the things that need to happen.

Example: Current Routine:

 
8amalarm, check What’sApp and social media
8.15: get up, open the curtains, shower, hair, getting dressed
8.40: make a coffee and breakfastsettle in to start working from home
9am-1pmwork
1-2pm: make and eat lunch
2-5.30pmwork
5.30-7.30pm: Spanish class (Tuesday)/yoga class (Wednesday)/dance class (Thursday)/homework/cleaning (other days)
7.30-9pmmake and eat dinner
9-11pmwatch a series, film or read a book
11pm: go to bed

 

Now, consider your routine a jigsaw puzzle: what changes can you make?

  • Are you able to add a yoga practice or meditation to one of these consistent events?
  • Could you shorten one of these events? Or do them earlier/later so that at that moment you can do your practice?
  • Can you order these necessities differently to create some extra time for you and your yoga or mindfulness practice?

Suggested changes:

  • I’m able to shower and wash/dry my hair at night instead of in the morning
  • I could make my dinner for the week at the weekend.
  • I can practice an evening yoga class and mindfulness before bed instead of watching TV.
  • I will practice a morning yoga class or mindfulness practice when I get up, instead of checking social media.

 
Example: New routine:
8amalarmget up, open the curtains
8.10: practise mindfulness to start the day OR practise an energising morning yoga sequence
8.40: get dressed, make a coffee and eat breakfast, settle in to start working from home
9am-1pmwork
1-2pm: make and eat lunch
2-5.30pmwork
5.30-7.30pm: Spanish class (Tuesday)/ yoga class (Wednesday)/dance class (Thursday)/homework/cleaning (other days)
7.30-9pmmake and eat dinner
9-10pmwatch a series, film or read a book
10-10.30pm: practise a slowing down evening yoga  sequence OR practise gratitude to end the day
10.30-10.45: shower, wash hair, prepare clothes for tomorrow
11pmgo to bed


It’s all about being conscious about what you do and how you do it, priorities and good planning!

 

Your Turn!

Download the worksheet for a summary of steps you could take or login to your worksheet library.

Remember this is trial and error. You aren’t looking for the perfect solution in 24 hours. Retrain your brainexperiment with your reality and find the right adjustment(s) that will nurture you, not stress you or tire you out.

Remember why you are here.

  • Set your expectations lower, but do prioritise making it work.
  • If you find yourself getting distracted or prioritising other things, acknowledge this. Pay attention to when you’re going off track, recognise it, try to understand why and redirect yourself, remembering why you started this journey in the first place.
  • Don’t resist failure or difficulty as this creates tension and anxiety. The more mistakes you make now, the more progress you’ll see in the future!

When you’re done – grab your journal and answer the reflection questions at the bottom of your worksheet or login to your worksheet library.

References:

(1) Kelly, Diana, ‘How to break bad habits with your brain’, Headspace, viewed 24 November 2020, <https://www.headspace.com/blog/2017/08/07/break-bad-habits/>

(2) Trafton, Anne, 2012, ‘How the brain controls our habits’, MIT News Office, viewed 24 November 2020, <https://news.mit.edu/2012/understanding-how-brains-control-our-habits-1029>

2 Comments

  1. […] live on autopilot. We do the things we do unconsciously, without awareness, just because it’s a habit. Think of this simple question: ‘How are you?’ How often have you answered: ‘I’m good’ […]


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