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What kind of daily routine works for you?

GiantSquid

Learning
I’m going through a depressed phase. I don’t work, and spend several hours daily laying in bed and thinking while other family members leave the house. I’ve noticed not doing anything makes me feel worse, but due depression, I’m out of ideas on what to do and also feel tired. If you have a daily routine which works for you, please share what you do! I hope to find new ideas to establish mine.
 
my wake up routine is the only one which has proved sustainable for me. i went through cataclysmic life changes in 2018/19 and have established routines in the rest of the new normal, but i feel them as transitional. i'm on the hunt with you for a more sustainable routine in the rest of my day.

my morning routine goes like this
1) coffee and a cig
2) a game of sudoku
3) reads from four different meditation readers. i have a fairly large collection of meditation readers, so i am able to put some variety into the four.
4) meditation on the content of the daily reads and my daily psych inventory. what level of crazy am i working with today? some days i'm merely eccentric.
5) digital fix
6) wake up roosters, then the humans.

in my own approach to finding the routines which work for the stage of life i'm in, i like to make my changes, one at a time. it's far, far easier for me to track the impacts when i am only tracking one element at a time. big, sweeping changes in one massive dose are chaotic, at best.

steadying support while you find what works for you, giant. establishing and maintaining routines has been the most important therapy tool in my own recovery. routines are still a foreign concept for me, but they work when i work them.
 
So I have a job which I have to show up to, as I am self employed so if I don’t do it it ain’t gonna get done & I can’t not do those things every day. That majorly helps me as I can’t call out so however I feel however sick whatever weather I have to go.

My absolute staples for staving off the crippling depression
1. Eat breakfast & get up. Even if it’s from bed to sofa. Just get up
2. Gym - I like to do mine before work
3. Shower, even if I sit on the floor in tears, I force myself in there
4. Wash my face before bed. Because otherwise I’ll be depressed with a spotty face.
5. Drink plenty of water. Always more water.
6. I can’t cope with a messy house, so I know I have to make sure the dishes are away and no clothes on the floor because once it starts to slide I very easily slip into living in a mess, no washing, drinking all the time, not cooking, not exercising etc etc.
7. Trying to eat one reasonably nutritious meal a day. Once I didn’t eat for 3 days and I went completely and utterly crackers by day 4. Like worst manic/ptsd shitshow breakdown you can imagine
 
I have a job so mine goes a little different. When I’m on breaks for my job (public school), it’s very, very hard to stave off depression. I try my best to keep my work routine even when off and it helps but it’s not perfect.

I wake up at 5:30 am, eat breakfast, take my vitamins, feed the animals, do yoga, and get fully dressed even if off work.

By 7:30 I’m at work, or running errands, or trying to organize or clean something in the house or yard. I do have a tendency to take a lot of naps when not at work and I’ve found if I get up early and do *something* then I feel less guilty about the nap and that helps with the depression a bit.

I get off work at 4 and go straight to the gym. Like with the yoga in the morning, right now I don’t care how much time I spend on it or how intense I make it, the point right now is to go consistently and do *something*.

After the gym I come home and do afternoon feedings of animals. I take the next 45 minutes to an hour taking care of house chores. My minimums are getting dishes done and trash taken out. Then it’s just go as far as my energy allows. I do have a garden so try to get outside and work on that.

After that, I make some dinner and use the next hour or so to do some kind of art. Photography, painting, drawing, etc. doesn’t matter, I just wanted to do art consistently and this has been the best way for me to make time for that.

Then it’s about 7:30 and since my main job (the goal anyway) is writing, I’ll spend the next bit writing. Again, no real rules, just trying to gain consistency. I go until I feel like stopping. I try not to go until exhausted because that’s a good way to burn out. I don’t want to do that, so I just try to get some done and then hit the shower and get ready for bed. Since I wake up at 5:30 I try to be in bed by 10:30 or so.


Obviously wouldn’t work if you have kids or particularly needy pets. And I don’t always adhere the way I intend because, well, life and depression. Funnily enough, I spend yesterday and most of today in bed myself instead of doing all this because I’m just not doing well right now. But intentions. And when it works and I make myself do it, it feels really good.


***Editing to add: some other things that help: I keep a large water bottle in the fridge overnight to drink all day, having it in front of me wherever I go helps a lot. I make ahead meals and snacks and frankly eat a lot throughout the day but it helps tremendously to keep bingeing at bay. To do that, I use bento boxes full of random stuff on top of regular meals.
 
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Mine’s built around key mental health management tasks that I need to get done each day. I spent years in a psych ward where the daily routine was structured for exactly that purpose - to facilitate healing - and despite having a very different life now, very little has changed.

Sleep: Getting up each day occurs around about the same time, and my winding down routine also happens at roughly the same time. For me, that’s roughly 5am, and 7pm.

Relaxation: I spend around 1 hour winding down in the evening, which includes 30 minutes of guided relaxation and breathing practice.

Nutrition: this needs to happen 3 times a day. So I stick with that. Roughly 7am, midday, and 5pm, simply because I learned the hospital meal times and they worked for me, so it hasn’t needed altering. What I plan throughout the day, it needs to work around that.

Cardio Exercise : I do this when I get up in the morning. I go for a walk. That’s absolutely critical, because I struggle constantly with a depressed mood. It happens first thing in the morning because it’s convenient for me, and where I live it’s the only time of day reliably cool enough.

Work fits in around all that, and if I stick with that routine, and I’m not likely to vary that routine substantially, ever, because it covers all the necessary physiological requirements for good mental health.
 
I'm not sure if this is helpful, I've always had to work even when depressed or despairing ( a whole different problem on it's own), but I think I've come to the following conclusions (just for myself)

1. Lots of my depression is anxiety, or starts that way. What helps my anxiety is have a rough plan; try to get a relatively normal sleep; take Tylenol for pain; if I have the opportunity and my body says so take a short nap (10-15 min).
2. Making structure is huge for me, to act 'as if': have coffee etc but then wash, get dressed or ready.
3. Try to eat square meals, or something I like. Have a treat.
4. Get active. Even if it's walking to the mailbox or down the street- get air. (I have a very physical job). If you can work out- terrific. Huge part. Stretch.
5. Replace negative thoughts and worries with thoughts of other's needs. Saying prayers for them, or doing a task and offering it for them. Not focusing on thoughts or words (or people) who have hurt me.
6. Breaking a task down, say getting the dishes in the sink, then washing, changing garbages etc. Any job that might be thoughtful for your other family members might be one?
7. Avoiding the news, max 10 or so minutes.
8. Engaging in something I like, even for a few minutes, being glad for small wins, no matter how small.
9. Being grateful, just naming things I am grateful for while doing a task, even (or especially) if I don't feel like it.
10. Opening the blinds, light, music if you feel like it.
11. Purposefully putting cheering things around: flowers on the table, bright(er) clothes. Having a bath (even if the bath is 1/3 things to accomplish).
12. Talking to someone, saying hi to a stranger or clerk or forcing myself to talk to one on the phone for info.
13. Leaving behind self-blaming and negative thoughts. Reframing it as this is my job I need to do for now (a goal helps too, but realizing this moment is a goal I didn't know I would have, even if it doesn't feel like one).
14. Continue with meds, or therapy, or anything else that brings you comfort. Don't rush it. Don't blame or shame yourself. Smile, or do or watch or think of things that make you smile or giggle.
15. Breathe.
14. Being around animals can be good. Just petting one for a minute.
15. Recognize you feel overwhelmed, spent and try not to pressure yourself. Big ships take a while to turn around.

I find a lot has to be forced but the starting is worse. Put on something that used to be interesting or engaging and funny, and do an action during the commercial (like folding laundry, or brushing your teeth). Set a timer to get up and do, say 10 min/ 30 min or 1 task/ hour.

Best wishes to you. Oh yes, and give your loved ones a hug/ let them give you one. Don't hate yourself or feel less-than. Be as kind to yourself as you would any one else recovering.
 
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When I’m at my wellest… my daily routine consists of blocks of time that are Tetris’d about, depending on day/season. As what works best -as far as order/placement- varies depending on whether it’s snow sports or swimming weather, I’m working or in school, I’m on my own or with others.

The same things happen during those blocks of time, it’s simply the order/arrangement that changes.
 
I've been collecting disability for quite a few years, and one thing that has been really important to compensate for not having the schedule that a job or school would give me is doing something to make sure that each day is not the same. I do chores related to clothing on Wednesday, but I also do little things like watching an episode of the same show on Fridays.
 
My routine is not consistent yet. Probably due to ADHD and few other things, like PTSD lol. I use the Habit app to help me remember and stay on track. But i do try...

Morning
Walk dog, smoothie, ballet stretches, study

Afternoon
Longer walk alone (dancing as well when I hear a good song because I love to and I teach dance), smoothie, read, watch TV to process what I have read, Mondays I try to go somewhere to get me out of the house (day trip) and around people to practice my skills

Evening
Walk the dog, smoothie or veggie meal, finish reading/studying, watch football (or something light so I will not have bad dreams), stretch, take my supplements, go to sleep

I cannot remember who posted this but adding one new habit at a time is very helpful rather than trying to change everything. The addition is always a slow addition but eventually it becomes habit. When I leave something out of my routine, I miss it now. Movement was the key for me. I need to move. It is not a PTSD thing, it is a "me" thing. For sure it is helping my PTSD and it dancing saved me. I hope this helps. This was a great question. Thank you and take care or yourself.
 
in my own approach to finding the routines which work for the stage of life i'm in, i like to make my changes, one at a time. it's far, far easier for me to track the impacts when i am only tracking one element at a time. big, sweeping changes in one massive dose are chaotic, at best.
I resonate with this. I find it much easier to focus on one change at a time. I would be a mess if I did it all at once. Great comment.
 
Probably due to ADHD and few other things, like PTSD lol.
Preach lol -- that's why I'm here to just watch the thread!

I think I change up what I do every day.

Because of brain damage, it only takes one day of skipping something for me to forget it was ever a habit. (Unless it's a bad habit :P kidding, fortunately those are also affected.) And my brain is so silly that I genuinely didn't notice this was happening until my friend witnessed it and told me about it!

Things to keep up with, though, lately, has been:

Morning, I wake up, and it takes me around 2 hours to wake up enough to get anything done. So, I start by playing a phone game I like (usually one specific game that's my current favorite) while laying down. I have 3-6 cats in the bed each taking turns cuddling with me, and the doggo next to my on her beds on the floor right by the bed. (I had to downgrade to a twin bed, so theres not a lot of space lol)

Then I take my pill medications and make sure I'm hydrated (which I'm also doing while waking up, because it helps me wake up faster).

Then I go to the restroom, take my inhaled medications, and brush teeth.

Sometimes I do physical therapy somewhere in there.

Then I eat, do some critter care, and then.... Do tasks, idk. Whatever my 1 or 2 main tasks of the day are, as I can only do 1 or 2 types of activities a day.

Weekly routines are part of daily for me, because I'm usually only able to do my tasks 1-3 days a week, usually with days in between. Depends, though.

And then, come to think of it, my evenings are messy lately, but generally do critter care, I shower, brush teeth, get into some clean clothes, and take my pill medications and inhaled medications, then go into bed with my phone either on the desk across the room, or under my pillow. My anti-insomnia meds help me sleep quickly

Daily routines are something I've been working on in therapy, though with minimal progress so far, but I have some things down :)
 
in my own approach to finding the routines which work for the stage of life i'm in, i like to make my changes, one at a time.
I’ve noticed not doing anything makes me feel worse, but due depression, I’m out of ideas on what to do and also feel tired.
When I’m sick, injured, or depressed I follow the Just One Thing trick.

No matter what my current routine is? I add Just One Thing to it. It may be brushing my teeth level of simple …or a complicated as hell, like going rowing every morning (which requires a club membership, racing she’ll, clothes, changing clothes, vehicle/license/gas/gas money, showering & getting ready both before I leave AND after I come home for the next part of my day, etc., etc. etc.)… but whether I’m at the level of Simple or Complicated… I do that One Thing. Every day. Until it becomes part of “normal”. And then? I add another One Thing. And another. And another.

So what starts out as brushing my teeth? Gradually transforms into not even needin to think about brushing my teeth, it’s “just” part of my getting ready routine… that I do 5+ times a day, as I’m getting ready for the next part of my day.

The last time I was badly sick?

I’d shower on 1 day.
Dry my hair the 2nd day.
Get dressed the 3rd day.
Cook on the 4th day.
Eat on the 5th day.
Repeat.

Just One Thing
I’d shower AND dress on day 1.
I’d dry my hair on day 2.
Cook on day 3.
Eat on day 4.

Repeat.

It was MONTHS before I could shower, dress, dry my hair, put on makeup, cook something & eat it… all in the same day… and weeks longer until that whole process was “just” 30 minutes of an average morning.

I would try to add things faster/do more… and end up not doing ANYTHING for days. Because even my normal was too much.

Just One Thing? Makes my “normal”… bigger. Able to hold more. Without kicking my ass.
 
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