Having a routine is so important when you are living with a mental health condition. Stress can create all sorts of problems and is the reason we fall again and again. Getting organised will help you feel more in control and subsequently, calmer.
It’s important to create a plan and stick to it. Follow the same steps every day and soon enough you’ll be doing it without thinking. Mental illnesses can make us so scared of change or spontaneity so we need a sense of order in our lives and a constant that makes us feel comfortable. Try to stay on track and it will become habit!
Be prepared the night before: This has been a game changer for me – pack a lunch the night before and you only have to grab it in the morning. Lay your clothes out the night before so you’re not wasting time picking an outfit. Even if you wear a uniform, be prepared. 7am is no time to find out that your shirt hasn’t been washed.
Find out what works for you: Maybe you prefer to shower in the evening? Do you have anything you’d like to get done before work, like exercise or even chores? Change up your routine while you’re still in the ‘trial’ stage and you might be surprised how productive you find yourself in the morning with all that extra time, or how much more relaxed you are after work when you haven’t got a million things on the to do list.
Set a bedtime: I bet you thought you’d never hear that in your adult life. Getting enough sleep is key as it contributes to lower stress levels and better mood. The iPhone has a great bedtime app alongside its alarm so it will work out what time you need to go to bed to get the desired amount of sleep and will even alert you when it’s bedtime (so you can feel like a child again). Having said that, it’s no use setting a bedtime if you’re going to be on Twitter until 2am. Wind down! Give yourself an hour before bedtime to turn off the main lights in favour of lamps or candles (blow them out before you sleep!), brush your teeth, put on some cosy pyjamas, and swap your phone screen for a book or some relaxing music or meditation. If you must use your phone, turn the brightness all the way down and if your phone has this setting, change the back lighting to orange (blue, the default, keeps us awake). And put your phone on silent at night! Messenger can wait until the morning!
Eat: Please make sure you’re taking care of yourself by eating properly. You can’t fill up on coffee and hope for the best. Give yourself time in the morning to eat a proper breakfast and it will make such a difference. We are often more irritable when we haven’t eaten (I know a few people) and it can make you more tired and often miserable because you’re hungry. If you don’t have enough time in the morning, try a breakfast that you can make the night before, or take your food with you to work and eat at your desk.
Have you found a routine that works for you?