Keeping a Routine – Essential but Oh So Hard!

Staying on a routine is incredibly hard for me, but it is one of the most important things to keeping me mentally healthy!!!

I am on disability and so I literally have almost nothing to do all day.  I try so hard to keep a routine.  I try to plan things to do – get up, brush my teeth, take a shower, ummm what else? What else is there to do?  I can’t spend money, I have no money.  I have no where to go.  I really don’t know anyone.  The people I do know are from my support group and they live like an hour away.  That’s a no go.  Hmm, what else is there.  Sit around, read, write, draw paint.  Walk.  Ok, but I can do those whenever I want.  Sleep.  Ruminate on the past.  Have a flashback, a panic attack.  Cry.  Ruminate some more.  Oooh hi anxiety, you are back for a visit! 

The most stable I ever was, was when I was in the state hospital for 6 months.  I had a set schedule, wake up, get ready, breakfast, community meeting, go to groups all day long (all of which I really enjoyed and learned from), made lots of friends, had lunch in between it all, came back for dinner, had option groups (fun stuff like cooking class, movie club, etc), and then we could stay up as late as we wanted to watch tv, read, etc as long as we woke up the next morning on time.  It was perfect for me.  I was held accountable to a schedule. I was expected to be somewhere at a certain time and I had consequences for not being there.  There was really no stress related to it though, if it didn’t happen, there was a consequence, (loss of off unit privileges etc) but I could talk through what happened with the therapists. 

My problem here is the stress of getting a job completely overwhelms me.  I will self sabotage because of the anxiety.  I have attempted suicide on multiple occasions before a job interview.  If I even get a job I end up getting so stressed out I just quit the job or call in sick all the time.  And now, I cannot even get an interview to a job because I have no work history for the last 2 years.  So I cannot even try to see how I would do. 

I have worked with my psychiatrist and therapist to discuss getting on a routine at home on me own – wake up, daily hygiene, daily walk, spend time working on my art, call someone each day (socialization of some time since I isolate), no electronics for more than 4 hours a day (not working so much since I started this blog!), and then a bedtime routine.  As much as I tried to do that, I just cant stick to it.  I am not accountable to anyone but myself and there are no consequences if I don’t do it.  If I had to be somewhere at a certain time to meet someone, I can follow through with that – therapy, NAMI group, those I can do.  But spend 2 hours on art, sure I will do that when I feel like it.  Call someone, I freak out calling people, so that will happen when I decide it happens – unless someone says I owe them a lot of money and I know that my bank account depends on it cause I cant afford it and I know it is a mistake.  Routines just don’t work for me!

I know they are essential to my mental health though.  I have talked to a lot of other people from my support groups and have heard it from many other therapists over my years in counseling and they all agree, routines make things better.  They help you stay focused and busy so you have less time to think about the negatives.  They keep you from ruminating on the past or what is going on. 

Do you have a routine? How do you keep your routine?  Do you feel like it helps with your mental health?

7 thoughts on “Keeping a Routine – Essential but Oh So Hard!”

  1. Talk about this with your supports but I am a fan of volunteer work that interests you. Rebuild your resume in a situation that is not high pressure that you can build around you??


  2. Yes we have talked about it. I have problems with pressure showing up to interviews for things though (which even volunteer jobs require) and then when I get overwhelmed just not showing up or attempting suicide … those have been my past behaviors. So I am trying to work with Vocational Rehab to get services to help with job coaching and accomodations. But here in FL there is a HUGE wait list, and I have been on it for 2 months now I will have to discuss It more in therapy though
    Thanks 🙂


  3. Routines are tough. Great when you’ve got one but hard as hell to get. Old habits die hard. I’m sure this is a “duh” suggestion but have you tried a career counselor? Perhaps one that will actually be willing to analyze your situation and offer helpful advice instead of just tossing you an aptitude test. Anyone can be gainfully employed doing something, you just have to find the right fit.


  4. I am working with vocational rehab, they help people with disabilities get jobs. So w my mental illness they could get me a job coach and put me through programs to help find the right one. The only thing is there is a massive waiting list, I’ve been approved for it but I’ve been waiting for two months since the approval and started the process 3 or 4 months ago. the program is free since I am on disability and I can’t really afford anything private


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