routines & anxiety


Ashley from After Nine to Five and i are hosting the Living the Right Life series to share how we are making changes in our lives to bring true happiness and joy. we also are opening it up to all of you to link up your own thoughts and feelings of how you are living the right life for you!

last year i opened up about my struggles with depression and anxiety.
i talked about the overwhelming emotions i felt as well as my decision to go to therapy and get help for myself {and family}

i feel like i haven’t talked about my journey to get help in quite some time so i thought today for the Living the Right Life series i would share something that has helped me tremendously to manage my anxiety.
it’s actually something my counselor had told me before but i didn’t realize {or believe} really would help until after my small breakdown and all of you shared some of the same great tips with me.

what i’m referring to is having a routine.

last summer, my counselor taught me some tools to use to combat my anxiety.
some of things he encouraged me to do was:
1. come up with projects/activities that would help me feel personally fulfilled throughout the week [not that being mother isn’t fulfilling but when that is the only thing you are doing and not taking time for your personal needs, it can be overwhelming and stressful and for me led to a very sad place]
and 2. come up with a schedule or routine to organize my time and motivate me to do other things.

for some of you, this may seem like common sense. of course you should have other projects to do and of course you should have some kind of routine. but for me, it was all new.

my counselor helped me see that i could still, quite simply, be me after having a child. i just had to make some conscious efforts. and being myself or making time for myself didn’t make me a bad mother. in fact it made me a better one and i learned i could find fulfillment in other things besides diaper changes and spit up.

so i started by making a list of stuff i wanted to do.
it was a really, REALLY, long list [i still have it] consisting of 16+ different projects/activities that i swore i was going to work on each week.
and then i went about making my schedule. which, as you can imagine, was completely packed because of each activity i promised myself i would do. i had every.single.half hour scheduled with things to do and had very rigid requirements for how i was going to accomplish it all.

my counselor even questioned my schedule asking if i was taking on too much.
he worried i was going to get overwhelmed, starting this whole spiral back down to feeling trapped by the anxiety of not being able to do it all.
i reassured him that it was fine. i was pumped. i was excited. i knew i could take on the world!
and that lasted 2 weeks.

so i dropped the schedule and went back to staying in my house, barely going out {unless a sweet friend invited me to giving me a reason to get dressed}, put projects aside, and tried to make it through.

of course things did come up that would help me a lot. such as getting hired by Stronger Marriage, having close & caring friends, being part of the BlogHer book club, working with Ashley, church callings, and having this little blog with so many supportive readers
{that’s you! thank you!!}
i know the Lord was blessing me with those things to help me feel at peace.
but after this last month, i knew i still needed something more, some kind of solid routine to help me through the days especially as Elijah has gotten bigger, smarter, and more energetic.

so i’ve gone back to keeping a schedule. but this time, each half-hour isn’t filled out.
instead, i have only “scheduled” the absolute necessary things that need to get done during the day and the rest is very flexible. it’s more of a guide you could say.

i have times where i get work done, i have times where we try and go outside {anywhere!} even if that’s running errands, and i have times where i put the computer away and just focus on Elijah.
instead of rigid time slots, most are large increments of time to make it more flexible. and each activity is based on what Eli’s attitude is at that time (for example: he’s more antsy in the afternoons so we go outside)
i even added a few set weekly activities like going to Story Time at the library or volunteering at the elementary school on certain days of the week to look forward to something different and in a way force me to get out of the house.

it’s only been a week and half {and daylight savings has drastically messed it up somewhat}
but oh man is it helping!
i feel more energized during the day.
i feel more stress-free.
i feel happier.
i feel more loving towards my family.
i feel more in control.
i know that if i don’t get something done then i can either move things around or wait until later in the day to work on it without stressing about time slots and deadlines.
and i know that i am much more present in my interactions with Elijah instead of worrying about 16+ different projects.

i wish i had been smarter about my schedule to begin with.
i just wish i had some kind of schedule to begin with.
as my friend put it this weekend, “I don’t know you have survived without a routine!”
and i seriously don’t know how either.
lots of crying i guess! 

do you have a routine?
does it help you stay on task and not feel overwhelmed?
what are some tips you would share when creating a routine/schedule for your day?
please share any tips you have!


Ashley said...

During my work day or whenever I have a lot to get done... I absolutely have to have a schedule. Otherwise I never come even close to finishing up everything because of how quickly I get overwhelmed with it all.

But i like to keep my nights and weekends mostly schedule free to just enjoy life.

MacGirl said...

Well done on the routine, I know how hard it is for you, so a big hug for you! I have a routine, I need to have a routine to know that what I need to get done actually gets done!
My tip, keep it visual! I have the best calendar ever (google DoDo pad). It has 5 little blocks for each day so I can schedule each 'part' of the day and I can doodle and use colour etc. If you saw it, you'd think a 5 year old had done it, not a 24 year old!
Hope you and Eli are both benefiting from the schedule.

Ashley said...

A schedule helps me too. I like to keep it loose so we have some flexibility but I love knowing I have things planned during the week to look forward to.

Alexis Kaye said...

I think I need to establish more of a routine. I mean I guess having school and work at certain times helps a lot but everything else, which is a lot more than I would think comes and goes and I feel like a crazy person not knowing when to plan them! Maybe I should try to dedicate more days to different things. But as far as the projects, I don't know if you saw it but something that has helped me is at the beginning of the year a picked 12 projects I wanted to get done by the end of the year. Seriously some are so small and some are bigger. Some weeks I don't work on them at all and sometimes I work on them a lot! It helps me because it's not so strict and it's fun! I've actually made a lot of progress in only 2.5 months! I'm surprised!

GingerPeachT said...

So happy that a routine is working out for you!! I love being all organized like that and follow somewhat of a routine but yes, it's always changing lol so I could be better about it myself. Basically my comp time needs to be limited for sure!

Cassie @ Live.Laugh.L0ve. said...

Thank you so much for sharing this! I love the way your schedule sounds and I am so thrilled that it is working for you! :)

Aubrey said...

Way to go, Meg! Thanks for this post- make a schedule work for you and your family- it doesn't matter what anyone else's is like.

:: ashley :: said...

i struggle with the same things sometimes and its so true- sticking to a routine and working toward progress is SO key to feeling better most days! thanks for being so open and honest, its refreshing!

Maša said...

loose schedule also helps me the most. I complete more tasks that way and I don't feel too guilty if I'm not able to follow a rigid schedule. however, it's still such a pain in the ass to make and follow my schedule daily. :)

KathleenSD said...

Glad I came across your post - I'm a new SAHM after exiting the workforce a year ago. It has been a difficult adjustment to say the least. I'm battling issues of self-worth etc and finding meaning in my life. One of my newest routines is a daily walk with some of the PTA moms from our elementary school. It has given me a much better perspective on my day.