By: Helen Jane Hearn
How do we know when habits are keeping us from growth? While some things set a baseline of healthy habits — walking the dog, eating breakfast — there are other times when our lives get so regimented even the slightest deviation from our normal day gives us anxiety.
We all need a push to do something new every now and then, even if we don’t know we’re in a rut! Here are five parts of my days in which I’ve personally gotten into ruts and had to help myself out of — for the good of myself and my family.
Having a schedule for your weeknight meals is fine, but one of the easiest ways to get into a rut is through the same dishes every week.
Meatless Mondays are a great habit for everyone and help broaden horizons, but when I find myself preparing the same five dishes every week, I know it’s time to mix it up. We try one new dish every week to learn new culinary skills and make mealtime an adventure for the whole family. It’s amazing how quickly the new recipes add up.
Panicked about taking some time for yourself? We all are. In the work of holding down a full-time job, caring for a family and home, it’s too easy to let Me Time fall by the wayside.
By breaking out of our habit of putting ourselves last — trading babysitting with a neighbour, going out to dinner alone, trying a new kind of bubble bath — we can take on job and family obligations with fresh enthusiasm.
My friends and I have a bad habit of always meeting up at the same places and doing the same things. And although there’s something to be said for the ease of familiarity, we’re often cutting ourselves off from new opportunities just outside our city limits. We’re not going to go on a safari or anything, but you can do countless other things in the time it’d take to sit down to dinner at a restaurant and chat afterward.
Have a hobby? Me neither. Sadly, pursuing an activity for the fun of it is the first thing to go when the days get crowded. Making time for a hobby helps snap out of the never-ending to-do list mentality and add some joy to your routine. I break out of my workaholic rut by sewing. It might be limited to curtains and pillow covers, but it’s fun for me — and helps me break out of a routine entirely composed of obligations.
The hobby also doesn’t have to be something you stick with forever, as that can turn into a form of drudgery, too. It’s totally acceptable to drop basket weaving the moment it ceases to be fun.
Sometimes I find myself in an Internet rut. I might habitually check social media sites to check on people who annoy me or with whom I feel unnecessarily competitive. That kind of rut is dangerous to our wellbeing.
Make precious Internet time work for you by becoming a creator. The cost of sharing is so low that an Internet connection is virtually all you need to become an expert on any topic. When I know myself — and what Internet activities are harmful to me — I can stick to the information that inspires confidence and supports.
Sometimes habits support my life goals, but sometimes habits can become so ingrained that I don’t know if they’re doing me any good. Taking time to shake up my routine helps me recognize which habits are keeping me back. This keeps me on the road to positive growth and new experiences.
Helen has written about Internet culture and home entertaining at her eponymous site Helen Jane since 1998. Napa Valley-based, she is a certified specialist of wine and founder of Cheesewhizzes, a nationwide cheese-tasting club. She also captains her bocce team, Joanie Loves Bocce.