Keeping A ‘Routine’ Makes And Breaks My Depression

Tell me something: when this past winter hit, did it completely throw off your routine?

If you live in Minnesota, I’m sure that it did. If you live somewhere else in the US, it probably still did since it was one of the coldest and snowiest winters on record.

Four months of a harsh winter taught me that I really need to adhere to routine to maintain a balanced mental state. It also reminded me that there was a reason we completed “social rhythm therapy” in my outpatient program last summer.

Some of you reading this are well aware that I too suffer from anxiety and depression. Last summer, I hit a breaking point and went to an outpatient program to treat it. Part of that program called for participating in “social rhythm therapy“, which (to me) meant “sticking to a routine and observing how it affects your mood.” We literally filled out a spreadsheet showcasing our normal routines, observed changes in it and how those changes affected us. As a group, we all noticed that we felt our best when we crushed those ideal routines – and we felt horrible when we didn’t or when they were interrupted.

Winter, for me, meant car issues and lots of plans changing. It also meant less time in the gym. Having those things “taken” from me truly did bring on depression and anxiety. It’s only now (as the weather is beginning to break) that I’m picking up the pieces and trying to have my life resemble activity that I desired for myself last summer.

It truly amazed me that a lack of routine (and serious changes in it) affected my mental health so much. I felt like crap for missing the gym, frustrated because my car couldn’t get me where I’d like to normally go as consistently, and I definitely missed the social interaction I had in the warmer months. I spun into depression again, but this time I had the tools to identify it and do my best to help myself.

I worked really hard to keep things as routine as possible. It made a difference.

Does your routine (or lack thereof) affect your mood?

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