By Beth Brown
I’ve always remembered my mum’s go to saying when I’ve felt out of sorts and stuck in a lack of routine: ‘the devil makes work for idle hands’. Remove the religious context and you’ll find it can be applied to many avenues, although I always tend to view it in the light of mental health.
When I was diagnosed with depression in early 2017, I found myself, as so many of us do, lacking the energy and motivation to do much of anything and then I found myself getting worse, letting my mental health control me fully. I couldn’t muster the energy to get out of bed some days, text a friend or leave the house. I often wish that present me could wade into past me’s life and shuffle things around, force her to do what I now know was a saving grace: start a routine, find a purpose.
At first, it was simply going for a walk at the same time each day, but then it became more structured: a walk, breakfast, a workout, reading, lunch, going for a coffee, probably reading again, dinner, a bath, and then a movie or binge watching netflix. I hadn’t really ‘completed’ much, but I was feeling better. It was simple and I needed simple.
As much as I sometimes hate to admit it, often opting for a bar of chocolate and a Harry Potter movie to cheer me up, routine and having a purpose is what keeps me sane. At the start of lockdown, I could feel myself slipping into old habits, away from the scrutiny of the 9-5 and things to pop in the calendar. When I was working, a weekend spent doing nothing but reading, curled up with a blanket and copious hot drinks sounded like heaven, but, as it became apparent that lockdown wasn’t ending any time soon, I knew I needed to find some semblance of the two factors that keep my mind occupied.
For me, that purpose was writing. I felt productive after a few hours of tip-tapping away at my laptop or scribbling an abundance of notes until the pages of my notebook were no longer blank. Chapter planning, mind-mapping, or jotting down ideas for blogs motivated me through these tough months. At the heart of it, that’s why I started Girl on Pause, it’s the perfect combination of creativity and structure that I needed to get my head in the game.
For the first time since March, I walked into work this week. It was merely a few days of training and preparation, learning how things will work in the face of the new normal: distances to maintain, locations of new outdoor hand washing stations, and collecting our new visors, but that semblance of normality felt wonderful.
Sure I’ll have less time to manically scrape together a blogpost, lie in bed with a book, or be able to stare at my computer screen until inspiration hits me like a lightning strike, but I’m hoping (probably rather wishfully) that this will only motivate me further.
I’ve got my Tupperware ready for meal preps, porridge to fill me up until lunch jamming most of the cupboards, a new diary, shiny new shoes (that have already given me more blisters than I can count), and a thirst to gain back that routine. I know that as the mornings grow darker (and I have to get up earlier to de-frost my car) I’ll probably be craving the time when I had little to do in a day but, deep down, I know that I can count on my mental health staying stable once more.
I have work (my routine) and I have writing (my purpose) and that’s a winning combination in my eyes.
Until next time.
You can find more from Girl on Pause at www.girlonpause.com or keep up to date with my attempts to romanticise every-day life on my Instagram: @girlonpause