Mental Fatigue and the Power of Routine

For most of us, the daily routine has been harder to implement over the last few months. Do you find yourself desiring structure and routine, yet wishing for more freedom and flexibility? There is power in both and you can use each to your advantage. I want to outline the benefits of routine and explain how it can alleviate mental fatigue when it comes to your health and fitness goals.

You might’ve noticed your willpower is higher in the morning than when you’re exhausted in the evening. For example, you might find it easier to get your workout done in the morning, compared to the evening after a long day at work. Oftentimes, this is because of “mental fatigue”… I think of mental fatigue as being mentally exhausted from spending too much energy on life’s daily decisions. You probably don’t even realize you’re doing this because you’ve become so accustomed to it.

When trying to create a healthy lifestyle, the amount of questions you ask yourself per day drastically increases. Questions such as:
“Is it better to eat 3 meals a day or 5?”
“Is it better to go to the gym in the morning or at night?”
“How much water should I be drinking?”
“How often do I need to weigh myself?”
You get the idea.

All of this second-guessing can become exhausting when you’re not sure of the correct answer. Not to mention the amount of willpower you’re already using to make new lifestyle changes.

That’s where the power of routine comes in. Dedicating specific days to prepare healthy meals will alleviate that lunchtime panic of grabbing anything on the go. Scheduling your workouts will hold you accountable because it’s already built into your day. Routine helps keep you on the path to reach your goals without the mental exhaustion of a million different thoughts. Plus, it’ll save you time in the long run because you’ll be less indecisive and more deliberate in your efforts. Take a look at yourself, your schedule, and your habits and determine what works best for you!

Start identifying your barriers and create some non-negotiables that can become part of your daily routine. I want to stress the importance of implementing realistic non-negotiables in your daily routine. It’s not realistic to say “Starting now, I’m never going to eat dessert again!” or “Starting Monday, I’m never going to miss a workout!” Start with what you’re capable of and grow from there… Think more along the lines of “I’m going to let myself have a few crackers instead of the whole bag.” or “I’m going to drink more water and less calorie-filled drinks.”

At the end of the day, the power of routine offers a lot of benefits. You’ll see an increase in your own mental toughness because you’ll no longer give yourself the option to skip out on the things that move you towards your goals. Your behaviors will become so automatic that you won’t even question if you “should” or “shouldn’t.” And when you spend less energy on everyday small decisions, you’ll be able to focus all your energy on more meaningful and important outcomes in the long run!

 woman having a dumbell on her right hand

Kelsi Ward (@littlewarriorfitness) is a NASM CPT certified fitness expert. When she’s not training and providing nutritional coaching to her clients, Kelsi is a wife and super-fit Mom.