A routine is any set of behaviors you do automatically and regularly, without much thought. For example, showering and brushing your teeth each morning is a routine. So, is it possible for routines to be bad for you?

It certainly is. Because routines happen on autopilot, it’s easy for harmful behaviors to sneak into to your everyday habits. Here are just a few examples of how routines can be harmful.

Routines Can Waste Money

It’s easy to fall into routines that waste money. For example: 

* Picking up take-out every night for dinner, instead of cooking
* Buying a latte on the way to work every morning instead of making coffee at home
* Always grabbing the same name-brand foods in the grocery store, instead of checking for similar, cheaper items
* Neglecting to cancel recurring payments for things you don’t want or use, such as gym memberships and newspaper subscriptions

If you are looking for ways to trim your budget, write down everything you spend for a week or two. Odds are, you have a few routine expenses that you could cut. 

Routines Can Harm Your Health

Remember, a routine is just something you do habitually. So, sitting on the couch is just as much of a routine as visiting the gym. Here are some unhealthy routines that it’s all too easy to fall into: 

* Spending your spare time sitting on the couch, instead of doing something active
* Eating unhealthy fast food or takeout on a regular basis, instead of cooking
* Drinking a few glasses of wine or beer every night, instead of saving alcohol for special occasions
* Staying up past your bedtime scrolling through social media, checking work emails, or watching late-night tv, instead of getting to bed on time  

If you are looking for ways to improve your health and well-being, examine your usual weekly routines. Can you trade an unhealthy routine for a healthy one?

Routines Can Limit Your Opportunities

If you’ve fallen into a rut at work or in your personal relationships, the problem may lie in your routines:

* At work, do you always do the same task the same way? Instead, make sure you stay up to-date with software improvements that can help you be more productive.
* Do you always eat lunch at the same table, with the same people? Try mixing it up and meeting new colleagues.
* Do you turn down social engagements because you have to hit the gym or clean the house? Routines are great, but fun and flexibility are still important.
* Do you have a routine for taking care of the kids, cat, and house, but no routine for connecting with your partner? Make sure human connection is a regular part of your schedule.

Any routine can get stale over time. Be sure to check in with your routines from time to time, and make sure that they are still working for you.

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