You may have read a post I did a little while ago where I pointed out the importance of having breaks from your routine. If you're interested to read it then you will find it by clicking here.
This is on a similar subject but more about why regular small variation in your routine can make a huge difference in your life and even help in a fight against depression.
Firstly, it is important to note that routine can insert stability into your life. For many people, especially those that suffer with depression or anxiety, the knowledge that a certain thing will happen at a certain time can be comforting. There are no nasty surprises waiting to disrupt things. Also a daily routine of getting up, getting clean and dressed then going for a walk is known to be of huge benefit in the fight against depression.
But I want to talk briefly about the idea of inserting some variation into that routine. It doesn't have to be anything as big or expensive as going on holiday. I'm referring more to smaller things. Daily or weekly things.
Here is a very simple example.
A person takes their dog for a walk every day. Always around the same time and to the same place. (Dogs love routine too so there is nothing wrong with that). They often see the same people there, also doing the same thing, but don't speak to them. Maybe just a polite nod of acknowledgement.
Now, I'm sure you can predict what I'm going to say next - How about if that person occasionally stopped to chat with those people they encounter?
Ok, let's go with that idea.......
They stop and say hello. They are obviously going to talk about their respective pets because that is the one thing they know they have in common. But let's imagine the conversation wasn't that great and our person didn't suddenly make a friend for life. Let's say the person they spoke to was a bit boring or uninteresting.
Would this be the perfect reason to go back to the normal routine and not speak to others in future?
Well, firstly, there is a story to tell. The next time our hero sees a friend there is something different to talk about. He can relay the story of that other person and why it didn't go well. Maybe ironically lament the fact that the one time he decides to speak to someone, isn't it typical that they were like that? It could turn into something to look back at and laugh.
If you have a life that has a very strict routine, there is a good chance that you also don't have much in the way of variety to talk about or remember when you are with friends or even just sat thinking to yourself.
Have you ever met anyone who only ever spoke about their work? Perhaps that was all there was in that person's life so it's all they had to speak about. As we are told "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy".
Trying a different food. You may love it, you may hate it, but it is something different.
Driving a different route to the supermarket. It may take 2 minutes longer but you may see houses, gardens or people that make it worthwhile.
Then consider some of the more far reaching effects of these little variations.
If you are unfortunate enough to suffer with depression, you probably have a lot of negative thoughts and feelings. There is possibly a lack of optimism too. Life is never going to change and how it is right now is terrible. "Nothing good ever happens. I never do anything, and it's always the same."
If you imagine these negative thoughts are sticks that your depression beats you with, what weapons do you have available to fight back?
How about being able to say that "today wasn't the same because I did this...." or "I'm glad I ate that new thing for tea earlier, I actually really enjoyed it."
I know these are not monumental victories but they are positives.
They are evidence that things CAN be different. They are proof that it is possible to enjoy things sometimes.
Depression tricks your mind into thinking bad thoughts so this is your way of tricking it back.
Don't underestimate the value of simply doing something slightly differently occasionally, just to create some variation in your life. The effects could surprise you.