Craving a bit of a refresh? Abi Jackson ponders how little changes can make a big difference

THERE'S a lot to be said for a good, solid routine. From birth, we're programmed to like being programmed - it makes sense physiologically to know when your next meal's coming and when it's time to sleep, but there's comfort in order and predictability too.

Particularly when life throws us a curve ball or puts us through the wringer; suddenly something as simple as eating the same creamy porridge for breakfast every morning, seeing the same familiar, friendly faces at work every day and retreating to the same worn-in sofa, can become vital tools of survival. Keeping you anchored in the storm.

But there's also a lot to be said for breaking routine every now and then. Sometimes, what you need is less of the humdrum - and instead to drum up some changes.

If you're wondering where your motivation has disappeared to or are struggling to get going with things, don't keep staring for hours at a blank screen growing more stir-crazy. Try stepping away from those tasks for a spell and make a couple of small changes in your daily routine to reawaken your senses and get those creative juices flowing.

"It's very easy to get stuck in a rut by doing the 'familiar'. This can sap your energy and make life seem stale. Making the choice to shift out of your normal comfort zone and try new things will reinvigorate your senses, broaden your outlook, and boost your confidence and creativity," says David James Lees, talking therapist and coach at Wu Wei Wisdom. "Seemingly insurmountable tasks or goals can also be tackled though small step changes in routine."

When you stick to the same tired patterns day in, day out, it can be easy to stop noticing things. And if you do feel your mood's a bit lacklustre, or you're stuck in a negative mindset, the distraction of some new surroundings or experiences might really help shift those patterns.

We can't always jet off on exciting holidays, of course, and huge life changes - like a new job or home - don't roll around all that often. But how about injecting just a little of the joy and curiosity-provoking magic of the new, into regular, everyday life?

Here are some ideas for shaking up your routine:

Take a different route home

Does walking feature in your daily commute or school run? Try taking a slightly different route if you can, or mixing it up every few days. It might sound like the simplest thing ever, but I've been doing this while pondering some 'big' questions lately and it's really helped give my mind a boost - plus, it's made my routine a lot more interesting.

Cook something completely out of your comfort zone

Cooking more or less the same meals each week does help keep those grocery shops quick - but there's so much to gain from experimenting with a brand-new recipe every so often. It's a little bit thrilling, for starters. Having to focus on the recipe for an hour or two (depending on how ambitious you're being!) is an easy way to de-stress and be present in the moment - and of course, it's a great excuse for sitting down with a friend or loved one and sharing something special (or a laugh if it all goes wrong).

Have a weekend of firsts

Got a free weekend coming up, or even just a few hours on a Saturday to fill? Do something that's 100 per cent new to you - whether it's looking at the map and choosing a new nearby area to visit, booking yourself onto a workshop of some sort, or going to watch a dance show. It doesn't need to be expensive; how about checking out some woodlands or a park you've never been to? You never know, it might awaken your inner explorer and lead to greater discoveries down the line, a new hobby - or just make your weekend a bit more rewarding.