Create a Depression Routine So You Cope and Live Well
Depression requires routine to successfully cope with the illness. Because depression is not routine, it is important and beneficial to establish patterns that structure the way you live in order to combat the surprises that depression can often throw your way. I'm finding that my depression affects me more the less I follow a routine. I am less capable of bouncing back from a bad brain day; I have less control over my rapidly shifting moods; I dismiss my basic needs (Depression Does Not Eliminate Your Basic Needs). I've learned the hard way that living well with depression requires routine.
You Need a Routine If You Have Depression
Depression is a rebellious mental illness, avoiding routines and patterns. While we can often identify situations that trigger increases or decreases in depression intensity, depression's quirks aren't always predictable (Depression Symptoms: What are the Symptoms of Depression?).
Establishing a daily routine can combat depression's unpredictability because it creates stability for an unstable mind. I am more relaxed and I take better care of myself when I follow a routine, trusting the schedule that I have created and feeling proud of my ability to follow through with my plans. Routine makes coping with my depression part of my daily ritual, instead of a chore that I need to squeeze into my schedule.
Create a Depression Routine with Yourself in Mind
It is important that you create a routine that accommodates your experience with depression. Depression is unique for everyone, so everyone will not benefit from the same routine. For example, your depression might make you constantly tired, so you may want to fit a nap into your day. On the other hand, your depression might make you manic and you may want to replace a nap with something that utilizes your energy.
There are a few things that I think should be included in every routine, regardless of your specific depression needs:
- The same wake-up and bedtime every day: Ensure that you get plenty of sleep, as well as regulate your circadian rhythm, which influences your moods and brain health.
- Self-care time: Set aside time each day to take particular care of yourself (Practicing Self-Care Is Hard But Vital For Mental Health).
- Meal times: Set meal times and try as hard as you can to stick to them. It is too easy to skip a meal while coping with depression and eating is kind of important.
Establishing a Depression Routine Is Difficult, But Crucial
I'm impressed by the difficulty of setting a routine with depression and I'm still struggling to create a routine that works for me. I travel constantly and I don't know where I'll be until I've arrived (How I Travel and Vacation with Depression). I don't have a consistent work schedule around which to plan. And although I have tons of other excuses regarding my routine procrastination (pun intended), I require routine in order to live well with my depression. I can't put it off anymore.
Procrastination Can Ruin Your Depression Routine
Verbeke, T. (2017, February 22). Create a Depression Routine So You Cope and Live Well, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2020, July 13 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/copingwithdepression/2017/02/successful-coping-with-depression-requires-routine
Author: Tiffanie Verbeke
I sometimes 'talk to myself' when I' m depressed. I say things like "now, take your pills and do the things that need doing". That's how I stick to a routine, and give comfort to my own self-expectations. For me, feeling like a failure is part of depression, so it's important that I succeed in taking care of necessities like tidying up, dealing with the mail, and bathing. I don't tackle new projects, because I'm not at my best. That's being nice to myself, like I would be to a child or a friend.
Hello, Annie. I'm Jennifer, one of the current authors of the Coping With Depression blog. Thank you for commenting. Positive and motivational self-talk is a great way to cope with depression. I'm glad to hear that you're having success with this technique. Also, it's perfectly fine that what you're mostly doing right now is taking care of necessities; in fact, when you have depression, this is a major undertaking. Adding in new projects can wait. You are spot on when you say that you speak to yourself as you would a friend. Being able to replace negative thoughts with encouraging ones is a big step. You are moving in the right direction. Thank you again for sharing your thoughts here.
Routine can't help me, because anything routine makes me horribly bored, which raises my depression to debilitating levels. If I'm bored, there is NO WAY to keep my mind off of things.
I try to eat and bathe everyday, but not at the same time each day, not for the same reasons, or at same places, etc.
I see this routine recommendation everywhere, and I don't understand it.
If it works for you, awesome, but how are you not bored like me?
Hello, Michael. Thank you for your comments and question. I am Jennifer, current co-author of the Coping With Depression Blog. If a routine isn't helpful for you, then don't worry about trying to force yourself into one. Each of us is different, and we all have to find our own individual ways of coping with depression. For me personally, a routine is essential to my depression management. I do vary the foods I eat, and I enjoy finding and preparing new recipes. This keeps me from getting bored. I practice self-care every day, but I do different types of activities so that I don't get stuck in a rut. Find what works for you and stick with it.
Routines are hard for a guy whose life is mostly random. Depression slows me down. I try to get eight things done but usually do five of them. Eating is definitely a routine a person does not want to miss. So is exercise and reading if possible.
I didn't realize a routine would help me. I have never been one to have a routine that I stuck to on a daily basis. I go to work at the same time every day but I skip my lunch all the time
I have agoraphobia and anxiety and going out for lunch or to the lunchroom makes it worse. Something else to work on. I find it is getting worse the more I have to deal with. My son has a drug problem and battles depression and anxiety. He is difficult at the best of times. I feel like I'm in the insanity cycle...doing the same thing repetitively hoping for a different result. It is all making my own problems worse with no end in sight.
Wonderful read. Establishing a patterned routine can be remarkably helpful for so many facets of life. When dealing with depression establishing, and sticking to, a routine can be empowering and that power can translate to motivation and self-belief.