How to create a depression routine.

Depression throws your whole life upside down and not in a very exciting way. There is something that changes in your perception of time when you’re depressed. Making it through another day can be a huge assignment. It is the first priority on your to do list. Managing your thoughts and trying not to make things worse (by forgetting to pay important bills or managing your finances) can take all the brain power you have left. It was like that for me though.

‘Simple’ things like taking a shower, eating, brushing your teeth are not that ‘normal’ anymore. Depression makes you forget about those things, you’re busy surviving or ruminating. Plus you need to go grocery shopping, go to the doctor, fill in forms for insurance and take your medications! Things are upside down in a way that action doesn’t come easily, planning is exhausting and making decisions impossible. You know you should be taking care of yourself but don’t know how and where to begin.

I got the advice to structure my day. Not in a very big way with many things but to start by setting an alarm for mealtime. I could be so absorbed by thinking or by managing my thoughts through blogging that I forgot everything else around me. I lost a few pounds, wasn’t hungry but as you know you need some fuel to recover, there needs to be a source for energy to come from. So eating is important.

Depression is a rebellious disease avoiding routines and patterns[1]. I’ve always thought I was chaotic… As mental illness is very unique to you, your routine is going to be too. The very first thing I did manage to schedule was my bedtime as sleep is very important to me. I go to bed at 22 o’clock and sleep ‘till 6. It doesn’t matter when I go to sleep, at six o’clock I’m wide awake. I can try to go back to sleep but my anxious brain won’t let me. All sorts of weird thoughts come to my mind and it’s better to get up than to fall into despair.

Next thing I incorporated was an alarm at 10 o’clock to brush my teeth. That is the bare minimum I get done. When I’m feeling lucky I might take a shower, comb my hair, you know, the daily maintaining that makes you look like a human. I need this time to do a little self-care. Self-care that I also try to plan into my day like blogging, reading, taking a bath, knitting, drawing and so on. This is still a work a progress and a great part of my recovery plan. As life goes on, your routine will adapt too. The three things I like to keep in mind – whatever is going on – to help me cope with depression are:

Getting enough sleep and have a fixed bedtime.

Getting three meal as day or whatever number is your go to but no skipping meals.

Set time aside to self-care. This is kind of a must.

Those are the anchoring points of my day. They help me to manage my mood. When my mood starts to fluctuate (between ok and ‘I don’t know anymore’) I can redirect it a bit through those actions. I have something to hold on to.

Do you think routine can be helpful when managing mental health? Do you want to share your routine or things that a vital for you to keep yourself the healthiest possible? As always, I like to hear from you in the comments.


Notes, credits and further reads.

[1] Successfully coping with depression requires routine.

Having a routine doesn’t always equal making lists. Why making lists won’t make you happy.

Picture credits click here.

25 thoughts on “How to create a depression routine.

  1. I think routine would be good for me but when I’m down, even that is too much. And I tend to leave everything til the last minute, like getting repeat prescriptions or getting to the bank or post office on time. But when I’m down, I don’t even care lol.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’ve started my mini-routine months into my treatment. When you’re feeling down ‘just’ surviving and breathing is enough to manage!
      The last minute strategy I’ve know too well, sometimes you manage and sometimes you don’t! And sometimes even that isn’t that important as you said. Eventually we get there 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m a very organized person at baseline. When I’m unwell, I rely upon that organization even more to be able to function. Having routines decreases the amount of mental energy I need to do a task.

    Organization isn’t necessarily enough to overcome not caring, though. Brushing teeth would be easy to fit into the routine, but I don’t care enough to do it. I mark in my bullet journal the days I shower, which helps me keep track, but it’s not necessarily a motivator to do it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. For it also isn’t a motivator but with the alarm I do brush my teeth slightly more often. When I feel a tiny bit better it helps, when I feel low, it doesn’t.
      The only thing ‘organized’ that I keep on doing is making my bed after I wake up. I love the ‘hotel feeling’ in the evening when it’s made up.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh thank you and I’m glad you find it a good idea 🙂
      It can help to break up your day, to get you out of rumination for example. It’s an easy thing to do and sometimes it helps 🙂 Sometimes I don’t care about the alarm, so it does depend on the mindset at the moment but it can make it more easy to get ‘something done’. Thank you for your comment!

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  3. When I’m very depressed my routine is lay in bed, sometimes watch TV, sometimes play on my phone. Doing much more is difficult. My normal life is ruled by routine, which is a big thing that has kept me sober. Many would see my life and think I mostly just casually work at home, but it’s actually very structured, as I need it.

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    1. It’s really strange how depression can turn everything upside down and your whole structure out of the window. I’m structured too but somehow it doesn’t always show.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Routine is very important to me with my mental health. I didn’t think I had much of a routine, but compared with some other people here, I have a very developed one, in terms of personal hygiene, exercise, “work” (job hunting and trying to write a novel) and religious-related activity. I think without it I would end up just in bed or browsing online all day.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think structure can be very helpful. Job hunting isn’t ingrained in mine yet, lol.
      I’ve always thought that religion can be very helpful and those of the ‘purposes’ in the early days may very well have been to help people to bring structure into their lives. Especially rest and spending time with family and loved ones (like during the holidays). I’ve always admired that in a way.

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    1. That’s a good and clear one. I rest on the couch and sleep in my bed. Lying too much in bed can make you feel even more ‘blah’ sometimes.

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  5. I think a routine is essential in down times.

    I have the issue of waking early no matter how late I go to bed. So frustrating. Lack of sleep can destroy me

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Lack of sleep is detrimental for me too.
      I try to get an early night but night time can be so fun too!
      My doctor told me that there would be a medication to add to the cocktail but that the side effects would outweigh the benefits.
      It’s supposed to clear up on its own with much time.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Every thing that helps helps!
        I actually like to sleep outdoors (I get that the noise can be too much) but sleeping in the fresh air is a blessing to me.
        I sleep the best on a plane with a sleep mask. Nothing to do on a plane but sleeping. I guess when I’m really in trouble with my sleep, my routine can become a very very expensive one!😁

        Liked by 1 person

  6. I had read that in the midst of depression it can be hard to take care of daily essential tasks, but I didn’t realize it could be from forgetting rather than just feeling like it doesn’t matter. It does seem like a solid routine would be helpful in that case. I occasionally break my routine up so that I don’t zone out and instead continue to think purposely about what I’m doing. However, when your main concern is just getting through the day intact, having the essentials on autopilot means one less thing to have to worry about.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Exactly! Breaking things up into smaller pieces can be very helpful to be more mindful.
      I’ve master mindful folding socks, it was the first thing I started to do with full attention and I enjoy it to this day 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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