The Real Reason to Have a Healthy Routine
It’s more important than you think!
For many of us, adhering to a healthy routine may feel like a chore. A thing we have to do instead of something we want to do. We build our routines on a shaky foundation of “shoulds” and “have-to’s” (I should go to bed early, I have to eat better) that eventually crumble under fleeting motivation.
We feel obligated to treat our bodies well — and often become frustrated by the constraints of our physical being. Viewing our bodies as limited and flawed, we get angry when the mind burns out or the body rebels. We see our imbalances as personal failings, when we should think of them as helpful signals that we’re pushing too hard in the wrong direction.
And because we’re so disconnected from the body’s wisdom, we respond by distracting, numbing, and grasping outside of ourselves for relief — when all we need to do is connect squarely back to the self that is here and now and has everything we need.
This is the real reason to maintain a healthy routine: to strengthen that inner knowing, the higher version of yourself that is powerful and joyful and brimming with health. To respect and replenish the body and mind — not succumb to their limits.
When you cultivate a healthy body and mind, you essentially tune the instruments from which the higher self can be harmoniously expressed. This you wants to be in charge, and should be, but it needs the proper environment in which to thrive.
So, what exactly is this “higher self”?
You could think of the “higher self” in a variety of ways, depending on what makes sense to you. In neuroscience, it’s called the “slow” or conscious brain (system 2), responsible for intentional actions or thoughts and the seat of our willpower. In spirituality, it’s referred to as the true self or sometimes the soul — the observing “you” that dwells within your physical body and brain. You might also recognize it as your intuition or inner leader.
This is not the self that wants the bigger house or the fancier car (the ego self), but the deeper self that feels awe at a beautiful sunrise, joy when a baby laughs, and knowingly nudges you to “go for a walk” when you’re feeling sad.
This self is calm yet powerful — and magic happens when you align with it.
Both science and spirituality have insights on how to best strengthen the presence of your higher self.
Researchers in the fields of neuroscience and psychology have shown that you can strengthen the higher self by employing mindfulness techniques, particularly meditation, to strengthen our ability to “pause and plan” over a natural tendency to “fight or flee.” Like a muscle, we can literally build our higher mind’s capacity to hold it’s ground by noticing our urges and delaying our reactions.
Research has also shown that too much stress, not enough sleep, and dips in our blood sugar can weaken the higher self and allow the lower primal brain (the fast brain or “system 1”) to take control. This is evident every time you come home from a long day, exhausted and hungry, and end up gorging on greasy take out, only to wish your higher self had been around — and had the higher self been well-rested and fed a balanced lunch, she would have.
In other words, keeping the higher self in control is best done by establishing routines, habits, and rituals that support and self-perpetuate its presence.
This is precisely the reason one’s daily routine is a huge tenet in Ayurveda, India’s ancient medical system that expounds upon the intimate relationship between our mind, body, spirit, and the outside world. According to Ayurvedic principles, by syncing our routines with the sun, seasons, and environment, we live in a way that nature intended and can more readily connect to the higher self. When our routines (i.e. when we eat, sleep, wake, and exercise) are in sync with nature’s clock, health presides.
This logic is now corroborated by modern science in the developing field of chronobiology and circadian rhythm research. In fact, the 2017 Nobel Prize in medicine went to three scientists for their work in isolating the gene responsible for conducting our internal clocks and showing that “with exquisite precision, our inner clock adapts our physiology to the dramatically different phases of the day. The clock regulates critical functions such as behavior, hormone levels, sleep, body temperature and metabolism.”
All of this is to say that your daily routine is extremely important to the function and optimization of your entire being.
So, if our bodies and minds are the exquisite instruments of this higher self — the ultimate expression of personal power, wisdom, and optimal health — how do we more readily access this boon of goodness??
It boils down to five major pillars that should be built into a daily routine:
- Get good sleep
- Eat well
- Manage stress
- Connect to self
- Get good sleep: Be in bed by 10pm and up by 6am for the deepest rest.
- Eat well: Enjoy meals at about the same time each day comprised of a variety of whole (real) and seasonal foods. Don’t stress your system by eating too much or too fast or too late at night.
- Manage stress: Find times to activate the relaxation response throughout the day. Drop into the present, breathe deeply, and interrupt the chronic state of stress.
- Move: Because the body was made for it and desperately needs it. Exercise is ideally done at the beginning of the day.
- Connect to self: Drop into yourself. Slow down, meditate, spend time in nature. Make time to remember who you are and connect with your values.
When these pillars are fulfilled — your body, mind, and soul hum in perfect harmony. Mysterious physical ailments alleviate, indecisiveness resolves, fears fade, and your unique talents emerge with a sense of self-assuredness. Life flows with ease when you allow the higher self to remain in the driver’s seat.
So, if your initial motivation to build a healthy routine is based on “shoulds” or “have-to’s” in order to look better, be more productive, or avoid total collapse — try realigning with the bigger picture.
The real reason to have a daily routine is to replenish, not punish, your higher self. Empower this self and you will reap all the benefits and more of a life well lived.