Consistency may be the key to improvements, but you can have too much of the same thing. Here’s how and why should spice things up.

Does your daily grind feel prosaically vanilla? Your cookie-cutter routine is the same day in and day out. You wake up, work out, get to work, eat, sleep, repeat. Repeat. Repeat. You may even be following that same workout routine each day, week and month. Why switch it up, right? You’re comfortable and you like familiarity. Who doesn’t? While routines are valuable for helping you maintain a healthy lifestyle over an extended period of time, they can also leave you feeling restless or unmotivated. Switching things up in life may be exactly what you need. This doesn’t just apply to your workout because changing things up across all aspects of your life can help trigger new improvements.

Train Outside The Box

Have you ever heard of repetitive strain injury? This is defined as the following: a condition in which the prolonged performance of repetitive actions, typically with the hands, causes pain or impairment of function in the tendons and muscles involved. While it’s often studied in the workplace, it certainly applies to exercise as well.

Perhaps the culprit for that pesky pain in your forearm, achy knee joint, or irritation in your shoulder is doing the same exact exercises, in the same exact order, in the same exact set and rep scheme, over and over and over again for weeks and months on end? Is your passion for comfort and familiarity actually causing you pain and hindering your progress in the gym? It very well may be the case and a possible fix for this conundrum is yoga.

Research in the International Journal of Yoga Therapy suggests that yoga, when expertly modified for the person’s injury, can be helpful for people with repetitive strain injury. Yoga can help you overcome your repetitive strain injury while incorporating a new type of physical activity into your set-in-stone routine!

Comfort Is Negative

Routines are a good thing – especially if you establish positive routines. Setting up a series of good habits enables you to take steps to more easily reach your goals. Good routines allow you to – almost effortlessly – make progress toward your goals because you don’t have to overthink every little decision if you have a routine set in place for it. But routines can also have a down side. If you find yourself lacking creativity, overlooking the original intent of setting up the routine, or losing balance in life, your routine could be to blame. According to a Psychology Today article, these may be signs to break down and reform your routine. This will force you outside of your comfort zone and allow you to grow physically and mentally. It may even help you overcome some fears.

Dietary Staples are Dangerous

It’s wise to question if you are getting enough diversity. Fitness addicts are sometimes known to get very predictable when it comes to food choices – even eating the same few select meals over and over again. The big problem with this is that all the research points to variety as being one of the most important dietary habits because it’s this diversity that can help you live longer. A paper published in the International Journal of Epidemiology found people who reported regularly consuming 16-17 healthy foods had a 42% lower all-cause mortality compared to those who only consumed 0-8 healthy foods. Additionally, another paper in the Journal of Nutrition Research and Practice revealed that individuals with a diet greater in variety were at lower risk of developing metabolic syndrome. You don’t need studies to tell you that diversity keeps things interesting. And if you’re not getting bored with food, you’ll be more likely to stick to eating the healthy variety you strive so hard to do!

Power of Quiet Time

If you’re still scratching your head thinking of ways to change things up in your life, it’s wise to consider meditation. According to a 2012 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), only about 8% of U.S. adults use meditation even though it’s been shown to reduce stress, foster self-awareness, promote emotional health and improve attention span. Even better, it has been shown to reduce cortisol levels. According to research in the Journal of the Medical Association of Thailand, participants who used meditation saw a significant decrease in the amount of cortisol in their systems in just four days. And we all know that the effort exerted in the gym places a tremendous amount of stress on our bodies. So help facilitate the recovery process and start utilizing the power of meditation. While there are many benefits to be had by switching things up, the one thing you’ll want to ensure remains constant is sleep. Be creative with all areas of your life, but keep that sleep constant and you’ll have more room for variability in your life.