A Daily Routine is the Framework For Our Identity
Who Are We?
Imagine waking up each morning with no clue what day it was or what you had planned for the day. Wait, that is how most of us have been spending these last weeks and months in lockdown. Scratch that. Don’t imagine. It’s here! It’s awful isn’t it? How many times have you woken up and not known what day it is? The irony is that many of us may have longed for such unstructured time in the past thinking it would be tantamount to utter freedom.
Too Much Freedom?
So why are so many people so anxious, depressed and downright irritable? Forbes, the CDC and even Pinterest have gone full force in their cautions and public service announcements regarding the mental health challenges presented by social distancing which has generated loneliness, helpnessness and boredom-all the hallmarks of depression.
The Pediatrician Was Right
New mothers with the help of their doctors seem to have figured out that the daily routine lays the framework for identity. By the time their kids reach kindergarten, if they have been listening and care about their anxiety levels they have figured out that creating structure and routine for young children maintain the calm and stability they need for their young minds and bodies to adapt to the rapid changes they face with normal human development.
Hopefully, young children can internalize their intrinsic need for structure and routine as part of their self-care, when they are older. Our current lockdowns and social distancing have deprived many of the anchor we need to adapt to the changes in the economy, loss of jobs, shortages and practical measures to stay safe. We like routine because it gives us the perceptive of control to cope with change and reduce the stress associated with starting everyday anew planning a strategy for the complete unknown.
Get Control Where You Can
There are too many variables right now that we cannot control. When you can’t settle the very big, work on the very small. The point is to keep moving. Depression literally saps the life force away and is often associated with low energy, low motivation and negative thinking all of which can put a person into a tailspin. Keep moving and the motivation will come. Don’t wait for it. Build a simple routine out of what you have in front of you that you can control.
You can find other soundbites related to well-being, self-compassion and thoughtfulness here.