I live a busy life. It's a recurring theme in everything I do. If you know me as a friend, you know you need to ask me a couple weeks ahead of time if I'm free and if it's last minute the answer is probably no. Once upon a time, I didn't have a social life. I'd go to work, go home, read or watch TV or play games or paint until 2am in the morning, and then go to sleep and do it all over. I'd always find a reason to cancel plans or bail out of something and stay home.
Things changed and now I'm constantly on the move. The days when there are no events or things to go to feel unreal because I feel like I forgot I'm suppose to be somewhere. After October, I realized I still had a bunch of events to do.
We had the gallery and Ladies Night and my guest speaking event and birthdays and parties and then we had to clean the house, take had Leon's birthday, the Museum event, etc. And then I got sick on Halloween. And then I stayed sick for like a week. And then I got food poisoning.
I also had social media I had to keep up with. Moderating groups and taking care of issues and fighting people about why no, I don't have a lot of hope for Justice League.
Lo and behold, I got overwhelmed. I almost broke down and cried in the bathroom at work. I had a headache for two days straight before I realized I had stopped taking my medication. My voice was raw and shot for over a week and I wanted to lay down and sleep and not do anything. I had to go home early from work one day and I passed out for like 3-4 hours immediately.
I wasn't taking care of myself and that's a slippery slope when you have anxiety and depression. I rely on my support system and routine. It keeps me grounded and keeps me from becoming overwhelmed by all my events and to-do list.
I need to get back into it, calm myself, and focus. A relapse is a sure fire way to kill any momentum I have from Inktober and with the holiday season hitting, I need that momentum.
So what are some of my routines?
1. No Staying up Past Midnight
I am not someone that functions on little sleep anymore. I use to be but now I get headaches and am cranky and have an awful time getting up in the morning. Ideally I should be in bed by 11, but what can I say? When I get more sleep, I find I'm not hitting the alarm twelve times and throwing my hair in a bun in an attempt to look presentable. The more put together I look, the more focused and professional I feel at work. Fake it til you make it. I'm an adult baby in a big girl job who has a vague idea about what she's doing but I can at least act like I know what I'm doing.
Making sure I get enough sleep also keeps me from wanting to nap and drink a ton of coffee with a lot of sugar.
2. Clean/Deep Clean the House
If the house is messy, clean laundry piled up in a basket, dog toy scraps all over the floor, and dishes are covering the counter then I get stressed and don't want to work on anything. I also have little desire to fix it the worse it gets. See, depression is weird. By keeping up with it before it gets that bad, I keep myself from using it as an excuse to not do anything and also keep it from being an unmanageable mess.
Deep cleaning is also very very helpful. I go through these periods where I want to throw EVERYTHING away and just list a minimalist life, but that doesn't quite work for me. I try though. Yesterday, to distract myself from working, I went through my whole closet and pulled out any ill-fitting or old clothes that I know I don't wear. I organized my drawers and swept and hung stuff on the wall and put away ALL the laundry. The room ended up looking nicer and I felt a lot better now that there wasn't so much clutter.
Clutter can make you feel claustrophobic and stressed so sometimes you need to do a clean sweep and toss out anything you don't really love or use. And if you don't think you can do that, get a giant tub and put it all there. In a couple of months, if you don't miss it or need it then you know you can get rid of it.
I don't mean like binge but when I'm relapsing then I forget to eat or can't bring myself to put in the effort to make myself food. Make toast for breakfast. Eat a salad for lunch. Cook pasta for dinner and eat the leftovers for the next few days. Make sure you are eating every meal.
Lethargy is a killer. It saps any will to clean, do work, or just enjoy things. If you don't eat, it'll just feed that lethargy by making you cranky and irritable and feeling sick. So eat!
4. Take a Time Out
A lot of the work I do is on social media. Managing the Artist Collective, events, and posting my art means I'm constantly checking notifications. Is anyone asking me a question, are people debating civilly and not name calling, is traffic to an event picking up? It's constant. But that also means my energy gets sapped pretty quickly. I can't tell people off because I'm irritable and they're annoying me. If I don't check the notifications, what if I miss something?
It's not fun and gives me anxiety. So sometimes, I let people know I'm outty and if they need me then they can text. I read or watch TV or nap or clean. I break away from the screen and disconnect because being connected is exhausting.
5. Write Stuff Down
When I'm overwhelmed, writing down everything I need to get done can help immensly. I'll write down all my deadlines, figure out which ones are the most pressing, and work on those first. If there's something that can wait, it goes on the bottom of the list. By making an action plan, things tend to look less daunting when I'm done.
Having a planner or journal also helps. I had a Life Planner but found I didn't like how big and cumbersome it was. I read about Bullet journaling and grabbed a small notebook from Target and started using that. It takes a while to get use to, but I can take it with me and write down all my events, reminder lists, keep track of habits, and keep a budget. Being able to write stuff down and have it all in once physical place keeps me from feeling stressed about not knowing what I have coming up or if I lost my grocery list, etc. I know where to look to find the info.
These are just a few things but it's a start. Routine is good and healthy. And some days it's okay to just nap on the couch and not do anything. But too much can be bad and you have to recognize the signs before it gets worse.
What do you do when you are stressed or overwhelmed or feeling depressed?