Busy, Busy, Busy

Saturday and Sunday were nasty, rainy and cold. While I got up and went to Zumba Saturday morning, that was about the only structure I had all weekend. I pretty much goofed off the rest of the time. I did little substantive work on Saturday and even a little less on Sunday.

This was not me. This girl can rock a to do list. I thrive in crazy busy. My days fly when one task or obligation flows into another.

It got me thinking about lack of things to do. Lack of outside structure. Some people crave days they have no obligations and need to do nothing. That sort of scenario scares me to death. It really scares me if I think of 30 years worth of that. Yikes.

So, one of the ways I cope is to stay busy. Activities are a distraction skill in DBT speak. They come under distress tolerance. I talked about that.  But what am I going to do someday when work is done and my hip won’t hop? What will I do when I have too much free time?

Understanding Newton’s laws of motion is actually helpful here. They aren’t just for physics any more! An object in motion tends to stay in motion. An object at rest stays at rest….unless an external force is applied to it.

If I don’t want lethargy to set in, l need to keep going. If things falter,  I need to apply an external force.

A way to apply an external force is by establishing habits and routines. In speaking of recovery from addictions, the National Institute of Health declared habit and routine to be good ways of avoiding excessive free time. The addict does not need free time because he may fill it with abusing substances. If I am upset and have spare time, I fill it with negative thoughts and worry. Not a plan.

The paper from NIH goes on to say establishing routine helps you feel more in control and build confidence. They suggest a regular routine that includes self-care (eating, sleeping, hygiene), a daily practice like exercise, meditation or prayer, meals, chores, etc.

One of the things I like about routine and schedule is I always know what is coming next. You avoid the fumbling and sinking feeling of being at loose ends. Like I said before, when I am at lose ends I think too much.

The NIH paper also talks about balance. They talk about deciding how much time you will dedicate to each of the items on your activities list.

I think that is a fantastic idea. I started a variation of that idea in my own life years ago. I based mine on values: learning, nature, exercise, friends, etc. I try to do something related to each value each day. If I realize I have missed addressing a value, I purposely include it the next day. Sort of keeps things from going too far in one direction.

Activities, routine, balance. Good stuff for coping.

Next: LAUGHTER IS GOOD MEDICINE

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