A couple of years ago depression and anxiety were running my life. I was almost constantly feeling paralysed in my thoughts and emotions. I knew big changes were needed to get out of the place I found myself in but I lacked the strength to make those changes.
Where do you begin when you’re in a place like that?
I came across the suggestion to start each day by making my bed. Smoothing out the duvet, putting the pillows in the right place – that kind of thing. I reckoned I could do that. That seemed possible. So I tried it.
When there’s so much in your life that feels out of control restoring control to something small is empowering.
It’s the small things that start you on the path for the biggest transformation.
I’ve been reluctantly learning that I need way more routine and discipline in my life than I’d like to admit because believing I’m free from needing routine in my life simply ended up with me being enslaved to anxiety, feeling unproductive and out of control of my life.
Since discovering that rhythm in my life I’m finding a peace that I’ve not had for a long time and a freedom to do what I actually want to be doing. Rhythm and routines being in my life is not boring, I’m realising that they’re exciting!
God has designed all creation with a rhythm. The Earth orbits the Sun once a year. There are four seasons and 52 weeks in a year. There are seven days in our weeks. There’s evening then there’s morning. This is good. Can you imagine if there was no rhythm in creation? Chaos would reign.
God has deliberately made our natural world to function like this and He has made us creatures of habit. Our bodies need to recharge through sleep every night and He even instructs us to take a day off every week. If we try to live out-with these natural rhythms for long we quickly find ourselves burnout, anxious, broken. Feeling less than human. Less than who God has made us to be.
Making my bed in the morning has allowed me to feel I have more control over my day. As that has happened I’ve been able to make bigger shifts in my life.
As I was growing up my parents always had a bed time for me; yet since moving to Edinburgh and becoming independent one of the biggest challenges for has been to sleep at the right time – Facebook and Netflix are more interesting right? I was realising that I was constantly tired and complaining that I was going to bed late. But even going to bed late had ambiguous meaning to me because I never actually clarified what time going to bed on time actually was.
Without realising it many of us have a routine we do before going to bed, this is our sleep gateway – for me this includes brushing teeth, packing my bag for the next day, setting up my morning coffee and setting my phone up to charge. I set the time I wanted to get into bed by, then I had to work backwards to establish my sleep gateway. I now know I need to start my sleep gateway 30 minutes before I actually want to get to bed.
Value yourself and your time
Only when you start to value yourself and your time will you begin to take charge of your life rather than just going with the flow of what happens.
We’ll constantly feel that we’re being pulled in multiple directions all at once. Rhythms and routine keep our feet on the ground and our head above the water.
Live with the bigger picture in mind
Your motivation behind your rhythms and routines matter.
For an athlete, the goal is not to train every day, the goal is to win gold at the Olympics therefore they will train every day. It takes discipline, including saying no to good things so you can say yes to the best things.
I see it as essential that I have a rhythm for going to bed so that I can have more energy the next day which means I’m less grumpy and more headspace to focus and be present with people around me. My purpose in the routine is more than just going to bed at a certain time for the sake of it.
Know your priorities
If you don’t know what’s important to you then everything will be of equal importance which is another way of saying that nothing is important to you. Know what your priorities are then establish your rhythms accordingly. Everyone might not understand but that’s ok.
Make your rhythms and routines sustainable
When you start a new habit or routine make sure it’s sustainable.
I think the number one reason why New Year’s resolutions fail is that they’re not sustainable. We want to go to the gym more, but we haven’t thought through what that means for what that’ll look like in our week.
We want our lives to change so we cut out all bad foods, sign up for the gym etc but we haven’t considered sustainability. Will it last?
Change one thing at a time
Don’t overwhelm yourself with changing everything all at once.
Recognise interruptions and distractions
We live in a world of interruptions and distractions. Pre-empt things that will disrupt your rhythms.
Get back on track quickly
Have I arrived in a place where I stick to my routine and rhythm consistently and without fail? Nope.
But rather than beating myself up that I’ve not been disciplined enough to do what I wanted I’ve simply done my best to get back on track as soon as possible. I have to avoid the temptation to try and overdo it by making up for lost time because that usually makes things even harder to get back on track and the negative cycle continues.
Thank you so much for reading, if you found this encouraging and helpful please share it with friends and followers. I’d love to hear from you, leave a comment. Dan 🙂