Planning, ruminating and finding fulfilment

Planning

Planning things in detail seems to work for me:

  • Plan meals, when I will shop and when I will prepare food.
  • Plan exercise – what classes or groups I will go to throughout the week.
  • Plan what time I’ll go to bed and what time I’ll wake up.
  • Put the alarm clock on the other side of the room so I have to get up to turn it off.
  • Set a time to start getting ready for bed – phone away, clean teeth etc. Try doing this early in the evening when I’m not so tired then all I have to do is  to get into bad. When your depressed, why does cleaning your teeth feel like such a  mammoth and relentless task?!

Ruminating

Things I can do when I’m ruminating on things that aren’t helpful – like how bad things were and my time in hospital. I think some of the reason that comes back up though is because I haven’t really spoken to anyone about it properly – there are things that I need to say, that weren’t said or seen then. I will write about it here one day soon. In the meantime here’s what I need to try:

  • Meditate.
  • Practice moving my attention around my body or the room.
  • Get up and move – change the environment.
  • Play some music.
  • Get outside.
  • Exercise.

Finding fulfilment

I seem to constantly struggle with the meaning of life – what it’s all about, why I am here, what am I doing with my life?

  • Deal with it practically – thinking about these big questions on a daily basis won’t help.
  • Think of it like a flow chart – do I have the money to do the things I want to do? If the answer is no, then I can either accept that and make the most of what I have, look for meaning in other ways etc or I can decide to save and make plans for a point in time when I will have the resources.
  • Plan to check-in at a particular time frame e.g. in six months or one year. Postpone the worrying. Ask myself – am I happy? Am I fulfilled? What am I missing?
  • Keep planning regular treats and rewards – don’t give them up to start saving – need balance and compromise.

I like the idea of postponing things until a more useful time – it works well for me with anxiety. Sometimes a thought pops-up and I can decide not to give it any attention right not but to park it for a specific time – it seems to work!

The main thing to remember when I am stuck and ruminating is to focus on the small changes that I can make right now – sleep, food, exercise and routine.

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Habits of happiness

I was telling my therapist a couple of weeks ago how some of my healthy habits are slipping. I’ve been watching too much TV, spending too much time on my phone, eating badly and not exercising enough. It’s worth reminding myself though that I’ve been sleeping really badly which makes everything feel harder and taking prescription sleeping tablets which slow me down.

We had a really interesting conversation about habits, and why they are so important for people who struggle with their mental health.

Three reasons why habits are important to me:

1. SO I DON’T FEEL LIKE A FAILURE BEFORE I’VE EVEN GOT OUT OF BED

First of all, getting up at the same time every morning.  I’ve adjusting my work hours which means I get up at 8am and leave for work at 9am. However when I don’t get up at 8am and keep pressing snooze until 8.30am my day starts off on the wrong foot. It’s only 8.30am and I already feel like I have failed. Things I’ve found help with this are putting my alarm clock on the other side of the room so I have to get out of bed to turn it off, preparing as much as I can the night before e.g. breakfast and lunch, having a shower before bed and giving myself permission to have a nap later in the day if I’m tired.

2. SO I DON’T HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT WHAT IT MEANS WHEN HABITS SLIP

Having a routine and sticking to it, because if my routine starts to slip I start to worry about that means – am I getting ill again, is this the beginning of a downward spiral? However, I also need to allow myself some flexibility as I have a tendency towards all or nothing thinking, and some days some days things will feel harder than others or I’ll lack motivation. That’s not necessarily a symptom of depression – it’s like that for everyone sometimes.

3. BECAUSE THE MEMORIES OF REALLY DIFFICULT TIMES WILL FADE

The memory of how difficult things were a few months ago will fade over time and won’t be such a strong motivator. Therefore I need to establish healthy habits to fall back on, so things don’t require any decision making or deliberation – they are just part of my day. This quote sums that up perfectly:

There is no more miserable human being  but one in whom nothing is habitual but indecision, and for whom the lighting of every cigar, the drinking of every cup, the time of rising and going to bed every day, and the beginning of every piece of work, are subjects of express volitional deliberation. Full half the time of such a man goes to the deciding, or the regretting, of matter which ought to be so ingrained in him as practically not to exist for his consciousness at all.

William James, Psychology: Briefer Course