Routine vs obession

It's often said that routine is a good tool to help with mental illness struggles, and I've found this to be true through my own experiences. But sometimes this routine can turn into obsession, and become unhealthy.

If you've read some of my previous blog posts you might be familiar with one of my first experiences of this. When I first started experiencing general anxiety disorder and panic attacks at the age of 20 I went to see our family doctor at the time. One of the pieces of advice that he gave me was to stop making my bed every morning. This was a way for me to realise that the world wasn't going to fall down around me if I didn't do these simple things. 

For me, I can become overwhelmed by the things I feel like need to get done. There have been many times where I have had a list of what I need to get done in my head, and it gets to the point where I feel like I'm trying to eat an elephant in one large bite, rather than one bite at a time. 

And sometimes the routine activities that I have developed to keep me moving and functioning become obsessions. An example of this is walking. It is true that exercise is good for us, but at times I've taken this too seriously, where I felt like I had to go for a walk everyday, and if I wasn't reaching 10,000 steps everyday (measured with a fitbit) I had failed that day. I was so fixated with the end goal of going for a walk that I was just going through the motions and wasn't being present in the moment - taking in my surroundings or stopping to smell the roses. So I started going for a walk in my jandals, as this forced me to slow down. 

My fitbit is a great example of how routine can become obsession for me. I loved the idea of having a fitbit, but my achiever and discipline personality traits kicked in straight away and I was either exhausting myself after a long day, because I felt like I had to go for a walk for at least an hour, or my critical voice kicked in telling me how useless I was for not getting a walk in and reaching 10,000 steps. 

I'd say I'm a somewhat active person - typically on the go both in my work day and off time. So for me to be pushing myself when I really don't want to get out and go for a walk, simply because my routine had become an obsession, wasn't healthy.


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