“The new normal is me being allowed to deviate from routine.”Kerry Anne King, WHISPER ME THIS
Routine can be both helpful and confining. While some level of consistency and predictability can reduce stress, it can back-fire if the structure is too rigid and inflexible. If any change or potential change in the norm is upsetting and anxiety-provoking, then the routine is not necessarily helpful. Fear of a routine or schedule being disrupted can also be counter-productive thereby creating stress. While advance planning is a good idea, over-planning to the point where spontaneity and imagination is hindered will, ultimately, take the fun out of life.
I use to over plan in the extreme. I would spend months planning a vacation down to the smallest detail. I use to plan leave from work and vacations two years in advance. The planning was fun, however, I found that I became more stressed the further in advance I planned. I felt like the plans were inalterable no matter what. The detail to which I planned became a barrier to enjoyment. If one little thing did not go as planned, I would feel extremely anxious. Ultimately, this over-planning was about personal control and being able to manage potential problems in advance. It was not much fun. I realized the difference when I took a spontaneous trip with no reservations, no destination, and no agenda. Without a strict schedule, I was able to take things as they came and it was much more relaxing.
Now, I plan enough to be responsible but not enough to be restricted. I don’t plan down to day to day details (like exactly where to eat each meal, ever day). I leave many things undecided in advance. I don’t make list after list. I allow room for spontaneity and unexpected opportunities. I have found, the less planning and firm decisions made in advance, the more fun I actually have on a trip.
IDEAS TO BREAK OUT OF RESTRICTING ROUTINE
- Take a day trip with no destination in mind. Just pick a road and drive. Stop when and where you want.
- Wait until last minute to book reservations and plan the trip based on what is available and where. This strategy is especially good for camping trips since these are usually booked months in advance for the most desirable sites. Waiting to the last minute results in catching surprising availability from the cancellations of others.