Gary's Guidance: Routines

February 2011

People are creatures of habit. We often work hard at trying to make things right for ourselves, and once we get things right we want to keep things the same.  Back in November 2010, I wrote in this column about managing change and provided some ideas on how to deal with reactive change and proactive change.  Each week, I encounter people who say they wish things were the same way as they used to be.  People get set in their ways because those ways are familiar and comfortable.

So imagine how hard it is to adjust to a change of daily routines after relocating from home to another community.  People will struggle with what is not familiar because it feels difficult, and scary.  In the midst of change, people can emotionally hang onto past routines by frequently thinking about them because they are familiar.  However, this can become a problem when one compares our new experience to how things used to be.  This way of thinking may transfix one into remembering what was lost, and this can interfere with making the necessary adjustments to changes of routines.

I once read that it takes only 21 days of practicing a habit to make it into a new routine.  Challenge yourself to try something new each and every day, and discover something that you can commit to doing.  It can be something as simple as going for a walk, and soon it becomes a routine.  Making a new routine will help you feel more emotionally comfortable and settled.

Gary Kozick, LCSW

Originally appeared in the Arbor Terrace: A Senior Living Residence monthly newsletter, March 2011)