Hi guys! Hope you’re having a good day. Things in my life are improving thankfully, so today Im here with chapter 3 of The Anxiety Chronicles! Today we will be talking about the importance of having a routine for your mental and physical health. ALSO important announcement at the end please check it out!
I have a confession to make. I, the perfectionist you’ve come to know so well, the one that colour codes anything she does, the one that always hands assignments in early (whether they were done directly before is besides the point), am scared of routine. This is confusing coming from the brain of someone who is also scared if change, I am aware. While change can be new and unpredictable, the idea of falling into a monotonous routine of cruising through life on autopilot terrifies me.
But here’s the kicker; I, and everyone else, need routine. We do. I learned this the hard way. Being a child blessed by parents who smoked before, during and after pregnancy and a cocktail of genetic mental illnesses, I suffer with anxiety and as a result depression. The idea of doing nothing sounds like a dream in my head until I’m there and panicking about the time I’m wasting, all the while watching the time tick by and doing nothing about it. I hated school with a passion but weekends and holidays would be spent as a blur of time, not knowing which way was up when I didn’t have to be awake, alert and fed at a certain time. This leads, as it does to everyone, to late nights, sleeping through the day and barely eating because you’ve confused your body clock beyond belief.
For a lot of people, as was the case with me, this routine was my only source of social interaction, I was a terrified kid that rarely text first out of gut wrenching fear of being disliked, so a lot of lonely nights were spent with youtube and music as my only companions. This continued when I had the bright idea to take a gap year before college, and my mental health spiralled out of control.
Believe it or not, I did have a realistic plan, the become a groupie thing was only half sincere. I was going to sort my head out and start working after Christmas. Christmas came and went, my mental health at an all time low after spending so much time with people only to have them go back to their lives, leaving me behind, with no hope of getting a job, no hope of anything. The routine became barely sleep, cry a lot, watch videos all day, maybe eat if I could be bothered, repeat. Monotonous. Autopilot. Terrifying.
I have been to a multitude of doctors over the years and the one sentiment shared between them, aside from “you’re so good” in That Voice, is the importance of routine. Getting up around the same time, eating around the same time, going to sleep at the same time. Here’s the thing. This is very true. This is excellent in theory. When you’re depressed however, all sense of logic is out the window. Everything, even the simplest of tasks, is a battle. At my worst I went almost three weeks without brushing my hair, knots had to be cut out with scissors, definitely not my best look, but even something so small as picking up a hairbrush was a mountain to climb. Ironically enough, both change and routine, the two things that terrify me ended up being my saviours.
College – The Biggest Step
I never anticipated starting college, especially when my world crumbled around me with lack of direction just last year. Still the same scared kid walking into that huge building, fearing the moment my boyfriend would say “you have to do the rest by yourself, I can’t come any further.” I was lucky enough to make some amazing friends in the first week, people I am still friends with to this day. I was so unused to having a routine that I would fall asleep as soon as I’d get back for around a month straight. Going to college was my biggest fear, but has also been my biggest achievement, and has brought about a world of change in my life.
After suffering in silence for almost twenty one years, I am finally on anti-anxiety medication, which I honestly credit with saving my life. Sure, I’m still a scared kid, but I no longer feel overwhelming fear of talking to people, of walking to the shop, of going downstairs in my own house. I now have a wonderful therapist who is so amazingly helpful, and has pushed me to join in on this blog with my beautiful friend Katie. I am no longer afraid of living, and it started with establishing a routine.
Small Routine, Large Reward
Don’t misunderstand me here, I am not suggesting you plan your days down to the second, life is exciting and unpredictable and simply cannot be planned out like this. I’m simply stating that a few solids a day make all the difference. For example, I started building a routine around skin care. Before bed I would do all the steps, face wash, toner, moisturizer, clean teeth, bed. I then built up from this, adding in my journaling just before I sleep. I found adding to it every once in a while kept it new, stopped it being repetitive, keeping my interest.
Though not all routines have a physical reward, I found mine in the improvements in my skin , and overall confidence as a result. Something so simple became part of my every day so easily, and its that simple to implement. Even when things are incredibly difficult, getting up to carry out even half of these activities can really brighten a mood. So many days I find myself proud of doing the bare minimum, and that’s okay.
Before I go!! Exciting announcement! I am participating in the VHI Womens Mini Marathon this October in aid of Jigsaw! Jigsaw is an amazingly deserving cause that has helped me personally so I am very excited to be doing this for them. If you would like to support me my donation page is right here, no pressure, only if you want to!
So I will as always thank you for reading, and if you take anything from this, learn to embrace the idea of routine, even if it scares you, you’ll be surprised how much of a difference it will make.
Lots of love,