Why is it when we are children we have a routine? When we care for young children we create a routine to help them get enough sleep so they are able to regulate their emotions and aid their concentration to help them learn.
So why is it as we grow up and have to look after ourselves that we stop doing that? I am completely generalising here as there are some people who do this but the vast majority of people I have come across do not. I was one of those people.
One of the key things I have heard in my recovery so far is ‘look after yourself as if you where your child.’ I found this quite ground breaking as I have some issues regarding my mum and the things I feel I didn’t get from her, so this really hit home and has made a real difference to me as now I can be my own mother figure, making sure i get all the things I need to look after myself.
I read into lots of different things about routine and one that really stands out for me is ‘ The 5am club: how to get more done while the world is sleeping’ . This book really helped me with ideas for my routine and was so interesting and helpful, especially for a quick read (and free kindle book!!) Il post the link so you can also have a read.
One of the first things I did was give myself a bedtime and a time to wake up every day. I wasn’t brave enough to go for 5 am but i chose 6.30 as for 97% of my work/ life I don’t need to be out before 7.30 so at the least I get an hour to do my routine and get ready for the day and sometimes I have more so there is also time to be productive when I would have been sleeping. By giving yourself a regular sleep/wake cycle you are able to regulate your natural body clock, helping with mood and appetite.
It wasn’t easy for me at first but I have got to the point of no return with my mental health at the moment and i’m so fed up of going round in circles iv made myself do it.
Recent I had to go away unexpectedly for an ill family member and for the first time i had to try and be flexible but not careless with my sleep/wake times as I had to factor in flight times and as the family member was dying we where sat with her until way past my bedtime a couple of nights so I had to try and tailor my routine in such a way that I wouldn’t be effected by it in a negative way (especially in such a sensitive situation for me family as well, I had to reduce the risk of me getting into crisis) but I also had to make sure i wasn’t sleeping in too much after 6.30 am the next day as then that would impact on the time I go to bed the next evening, thus knocking me completely out of sync. It was a challenge but not impossible, to be honest it also made me proud that in such a challenging situation I was able to remember how important this is for my health.
So just as you would give children healthy sleep/wake cycles to help them grow, develop and keep well, it is just as important to do this for yourself to keep you happy and healthy. Flexibility is vital but don’t get soft on yourself and allowing yourself to repeatedly get away with braking your own rules. Looking after myself can sometimes be as challenging as looking after a toddler but when i’m strong and keep to my routine consistently I can defiantly feel the difference.