I wanted to write a blog that spoke specifically about routine. I am unsure if it is the same for all that have Anxiety. I know certainly for me, that having a routine really helps me manage and maintain my mental health. It’s basically a safety net that keeps my anxiety at bay and helps prevent it from spiralling. When my routine has to be adjusted to allow for an event, outing or meeting etc, it throws me off and that’s when I start to feel the anxiety appear. Depending on what it is depends on the level it creates.
The reason I have chosen now to write a blog about this is because it’s really only become apparent to me during the summer holidays.
No school run, no need for strict bed time or meal times, everything is so much more relaxed. I absolutely love having that time with my girls and there is just something so satisfying about not having to set an alarm every morning. Initially in the first two weeks it felt great, I really just enjoyed the time and doing things at my leisure. As time progressed, I found myself creeping back into my old safety habits. Becoming so comfortable in the little family, home life bubble. I was no longer pushing myself to do anything out of the bubble I had created. I truly believe that is because I didn’t have a schedule or routine to stick to or to guide me through my day. It all becomes very spontaneous and sometimes unexpected. For some that is a great way to live day to day but for someone that suffers Anxiety and needs to feel in control, it is an absolute nightmare! It’s also about knowing and understanding what is expected of you each day. Monday to Friday I feel like I thrive because the routine is set, I feel in control and most days are pretty similar. Weekends on the other hand are a little more difficult to juggle. The routine is either not there at all or it has drastically changed. If there are plans made and it appears, I can create structure then I am ok, but if there appears to be a weekend of nothing and no real structure or routine then I start to struggle. They are the type of weekends that most would describe as relaxing or chilled. Sounds like heaven for most I agree, but for me it really affects me and my mood in general, I am far more irritable, less patient, much more sensitive and defiantly far more likely to have my anxiety triggered.
Theses types of weekends take me back to time when things weren’t so great. It allows me the opportunity to be lazy, which of course we all jump at the chance every now again, but for me it’s a reminder of when anxiety and depression completely consumed me and I was totally in capable of carrying out any basic daily tasks. I am very aware that that is now not the case but still I feel like its engrained in my brain to be busy, if I am busy and I have I structure I don’t have time to think of events past. My focus is taken up by the day’s routine and doesn’t allow me a moment’s rest. I guess ultimately what this means is that I am living in fear of the anxiety and depression returning to the level it was before. Subconsciously I believe if I am busy and don’t have time to think about it can’t and will not come back. As I write this, I realise that actually what I am doing is probably far more likely to trigger issues with my mental health, because I am not allowing myself a break.
“Keep going, don’t stop, be busy maintain and regain some normality in your life”
This is what I can hear myself saying every day. What I and actually all of us should be saying is do what makes you happy but make time for rest and reflection. Maintaining a good mental health is not about ignoring it, it’s about making time for self-care and self-love. Being busy and having a purpose is something we all want and need but we must also remember that in order to keep going we have to take time out. I intend to keep my routine throughout the week, because I do believe structure to be helpful and also it ensures I make time to complete all tasks required by me as mother. The boring mundane jobs such as making lunches, tidying bedrooms, picking up dirty laundry and attempting to cook meals that are both reasonably healthy but also ensuring my children will actually eat them. I am however going to be more accepting of relaxing weekends, weekends of nothing, and rather than sit in fear of the imaginary consequences of doing nothing, I am going to embrace the moments and try to enjoy the break.
Maintaining our mental health needs to be a priority too. We spend so much of our time trying to please and look after other’s that we sometimes forget to look after ourselves.
Let me know in the comments section what you do to maintain and look after your mental health. I would love to know if you can relate to anything that I written in this blog today.