I used to despise the thought of having a “regular routine.” That changed the moment I moved out of my parents’ home to a new city for work. That’s when I realized that a certain level of structure and routine is necessary for me to manage my depression and anxiety.
Recognizing that uncertainty fuels my symptoms
I struggled with some of the most intense anxiety, depression, and my first-ever panic attacks when I began freelancing and building multiple businesses. I believe this was due to a lack of routines and structure in my life.
I was uncertain where I’d get enough money to pay rent and living expenses in a major city. The precariousness was lighter fluid for the anxiety symptoms that left my mind racing. This made it harder to take confident action that would help my situation. This cycled through and worsened my depression symptoms also.
I recognized that my depression symptoms thrive off the chaos in my life. And depression adds fuel to the fires of uncertainty that can come with running a business or just managing life as an adult.
I found my tools
The first and most important step was to figure out which self-care tools would help me most when I’m struggling. These tools also work as preventive measures when I’m in a good space.
If you want to find your tools to alleviate your anxiety or reduce depression symptoms, try and do some research and self-reflection. Talk with your mental health professional and others you know who struggle with these issues.
You’ll also need to understand what tool works best at any given moment. In my experience, an earlier or less severe stage of depression or anxiety may call for journaling, walking in nature, or a support group meeting. If you’re in a worse space, you may need to go to therapy more frequently.
I set a regular cycle
It’s easy to forget your tools or hesitate to use them. We sometimes don’t sense the slip of depression quickly enough to avoid becoming overwhelmed by more severe symptoms.
That’s why I started to build new routines. I find that a “proactive” instead of a “reactive” wellness routine helps symptoms from worsening to a place where my usual tools aren’t as effective.
Experiment with the cycles and timing of your tools once you know what works best for you. Set the frequency and schedule it ahead of time. Create calendar reminders to help you stay on track with your self-care.
Remember these tools only work if you prioritize them and follow through. Remind yourself how important routines are if you find yourself wanting to skip them for more appealing plans that might pop up along the way.
Of course, it’s OK to shift the timing every now and then. Just try not to constantly miss your reminders.
I adjust as needed
Your tools and the frequency that you need them may change as your symptoms and life evolve. Sometimes your tools stop working. And that’s OK.
Go back to the beginning of the process and reassess what’s working and what isn’t. Readjust your tools or the frequency you use them to fit your new circumstances.
It can take a lot of work and persistence to experiment with different tools and build a proper routine. But the benefits of having it fully established can be life-changing.
I still have a lot of chaos in my life (the good kind, in my eyes). But it’s grounded in the routines that I’ve built. That means my anxiety and depression no longer take over. I now know how to be on top of my mental health triggers before things get out of hand.
For more information on how to manage depression, reach out to your doctor or healthcare team.
NPS-US-NP-00509 NOVEMBER 2019