The Significance of Routines, Even Interrupted by a Pandemic

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The Importance of Routines, Even Interrupted by a Pandemic

I grew up insecure all the time, thanks to an unstable home life as a child, parents who moved a lot and from the age of 16 no longer have a home of their own. The trauma from these experiences began to haunt me, it wore me down, and mixed with my diagnoses of ADHD, depression, and obsessive-compulsive disorder, making it nearly impossible for me to focus on one, work, and generally be productive and happy Every day.

At some point I happened to realize that the more I implemented boundaries and schedules – wake up and eat and meditate at certain times, exercise, write down the schedule for the next day – the more I felt not just controlled. but also luck. By establishing routines for myself, I was able to protect myself from the chaos.

"It helps you feel in control," said Charles Duhigg, who wrote The Power of Habit, in an interview. "It helps you remember how to do things that – maybe because of your A.D.H.D. – You would forget about it because of short term memory. "In his book, Mr. Duhigg explores the kind of ouroboros – the ancient symbol of a snake eating its own tail – that I performed on myself. I needed some sort of cue, a routine, and then a reward. I didn't have any rewards intended as part of the process, but they are important.

For me the reward was peace of mind. What I didn't realize was that I was giving myself other little trophies as well: When I went to the gym five days a week, there was a little voice in my head that said, "You deserve two slices of pizza." When I clean the house on Sunday morning, I always open a beer in the afternoon. And sometimes you are not even aware of the rewards you give yourself for the routine and I find these to be the most important. With these rewards, I am good to yourself and tell myself that I did something, so I deserve something.

"You force yourself to anticipate rewards," said Duhigg. "It's all really good."

For Esmé Weijun Wang, author of the essay collection “The Collected Schizophrenias”, “Routines and rituals are central to maintaining my mental health,” she told me. Ms. Wang's routines include, "My analog planner, which I use to write diaries, manage appointments, and jot down tasks. Along with a number of other notebooks and folders, it organizes things so that life feels less overwhelming."

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