This is one of those topics that can be a help whatever your circumstances. Obviously for me, creating a daily routine, was of tantamount importance in my journey to getting my life back together. Whether you start with a list, make a note of things as you do them or even just keep it in your head, having a daily routine helps you keep track of your progress.
Creating a daily routine becomes habit and is a great way of making the best use of your time and avoiding large, empty spaces where you might find yourself spending a little too much time in your head.
Start at the Beginning
As these articles are mainly based on my own experiences, I’ll start with how I approached establishing a more organised day. Remember, I was only in the very early stages of coming out of the haze, that was depression. I had turned a corner though and was no longer spending huge amounts of time sprawled on a sofa watching Star Trek.
Waking up and getting up, as we know are two very different beasts. After all of my anguish with sleep, at last I was in relatively good place. You can lie in bed to your hearts content but you need a reason to get up. As a sidebar, it’s worth mentioning, that for most us, we get up every day to go to work for someone else…we owe it to ourselves to do the same when we’re not working…day off and such like.
I had three reasons to get up, technically four. School run, two dogs and exercise.
Order out of Chaos
So we’re off. I now have purpose right at the start of the day. I join forces with my wife to take the children to school and then move straight on to the dog walking. After our return, I start on my exercise routine, nothing over the top but a solid foundation to build on. A wash off I’m ready to look at something else to distract me. That’s what it’s about at this stage, distraction.
Setting up a routine and having a purpose were excellent tools in helping with my recovery. I was still drinking but it no longer had the vice-like grip it did before. After all, it was now a medicine and that had changed the balance of power. As the days passed, I was able to delay my first drink of the day. So now I had just a small amount of control. You take your wins where and whenever you can.
Write it down
For me, a diary was a must, I needed to come track of what I was doing every day. You may have another from of medium, ipad, phone or even the calendar/notes facility on your PC. You might not even want to write stuff down, up to you, whatever works best.
Keeping a daily log of my exploits meant that I could refer back at any time without having to try to remember. My brain wasn’t in the best place for that just yet. I could keep an eye on how I was improving with the exercise. It was also my ‘medicine log’ As long as was being honest with myself, I had a permanent record of the amounts of alcohol I was drinking. It was a way of having evidence of being productive. Something I could look back on and say “I did that”
During all this I was carrying a double-edged sword, not literally, it was that I had to be selfish but I wanted to be selfless as well. You have to remember, up until now, I hadn’t really being pulling my weight in the household, “So what” I hear some of you cry,”You’re ill” Be that as it may, depression causes many things and one of them is guilt. I was only playing bit parts in my lifes play. My ongoing routine creation helped with this.
After lunch became ‘Ironing’ time. We are a family of six, so there is never a shortage of washing and ironing. This was to become one of my favourite times of the day. We’ll touch on a couple of the reasons here but I’ll go into more depth at a later date as the subject matter deserves a place on its own.
Ironing, totally productive and ‘mindful’ when you want it to be. I could happily spend an hour of two, most days, in the kitchen with iron in hand. I would have the radio on to start with and then I started to listen to audio books. This led me onto self-help content. Like I said, this part deserves a page all to its self. Some of the ideas I gleaned from the audio CD’s I still use today. The other gem I picked up on was ‘mindfulness. Being able concentrate on only one thing,’being mindful’ again, was something I learnt in the early days and have kept with me ever since. Another page beckons for that subject also.
Now I was ‘cooking on gas’. I had an appetite to find meaningful things to do. I started to de-clutter, whether this had a direct correlation to my state oi mind, I’m not sure. Going through the house from top to bottom. Throwing things out, re-organising,cleaning, tidying.
I’d had an EBay account for a while but had barely used it. Now I was finding items purely to sell, obviously checking first that it wasn’t some other family members keepsake. I also used some of the selling groups on Facebook to hawk stuff. We had taken a financial hit with me being off work and although I wasn’t earning a full time wage selling, I was at least baring fruit from my efforts. I was finally being production and with that the first seeds of self-confidence started to sprout
Staying With The Program
I still have a routine today, it’s not the same as back then but it still works for me. Whether you’re in recovery, like I was, or just moving through life in the way that we do, a routine, schedule or plan can still be of great benefit. Never forget the hardships yo have endured for they can be a constant reminder of how far you have come.
I had lost cohesion and structure in my life and I had to start somewhere to build it back up. At the start and for a long time, it was like a ‘house of cards’ you never knew when a gust of wind was going to blow it down. Blow it did, on numerous occasions but I just started building again. As time has passed by, the cards have been replaced with solid blocks. Not all of them but enough to provide me with a firm foundation with which I can build mine and my families future on.