Craving Routine

For the past few weeks, my routine has been completely upturned and I have been feeling lost and uninspired. Today marks a Monday of back-to-normal … though I have yet to find the inspiration I regularly have.

My mornings normally consist of medicating myself with SSRIs and caffeine (though I’ve been having long talks with my cups of coffee because I have not been in love with them lately) and spending time with my little family. Coop and Moo head off to school around 8:30 or 9am, and then it’s my job to take care of the house and household duties. (#snort, I said duties.)


I oftentimes use my current favorite red notebook and I keep daily notes on what needs to be done, any sort of shopping list I might have, and oftentimes there are pieces of blog posts, ideas for house cleaning, and organizational tips. My little red Exaclair travels in my purse (an Everlane Twill Zip Tote; not an affiliate link, but I love and support Everlane wholly) and I’m not afraid to take it out while in the store or to “consult” it mid-store-aisle. I’ve even made friends because of my Exaclair*. (The butcher teases me regularly about my “little colored lists” and my meat questions.)

Since I detest grocery shopping (why, I don’t really know), I try to do it first thing in the morning so that it’s done and out of the way. I’m not a coupon cutter, but I will make special trips to two different stores to save a little money, and I do order many of my non-perishable groceries to be delivered. (Read Coming home to learn about grocery delivery!) I find if I wait all afternoon to go to the grocery store, I don’t make it and I “fudge” what we were going to have for dinner (or snacks). After groceries, I’d like to start adding yoga or a long walk to my regular routine. I’m in a decent shape, but I’d like to be more fit.

In the afternoon, I try hard to listen to my body. Some days I have to pull the blackout curtains* and slap on my IMAK compression sleep mask* before I let myself take a nap. Instead of thinking about naps as “admitting defeat,” I’ve really had to change my mindset to realize that if my body is telling me that I need sleep, I probably actually need sleep. If I’m not resting in the afternoon, I’m writing, cleaning the house, folding and putting away laundry, prepping dinner, and sometimes I even have time to color!

Traveling and hosting guests threw my routine into the trashcan. On top of that, I’m starting a serious job search at this point, and so I’m trying to keep up on my writing while pushing out my executive administrative assistant resume and personalized (yes, each one) cover letter. I’m hopeful that my organization and multi-tasking skills will be incredibly beneficial for any new employer. My routine is changing, but being able to rest on the fact that I have a routine helps reestablish what was previously scrapped.

Tomorrow? I’ve got a whole list of things to do already!

  • meal plan
  • groceries
    • list
    • order
    • shop
  • dust, sweep, dustbust*
  • vacuum Moo’s room
  • call for GP appointment
  • DMV registration check
  • call Mom (call your mom!)
  • three thank you notes from Booksgiving
  • pack up box
  • visit the post office


Most humans crave routine. Working with the familiar means less stress for those involved. Without routine, I focus too strongly on the details in life (that little dust bunny might need a name he’s been around so long, my box isn’t packed properly and I’ve already gotten an email reminder about it, that pen might be dead should I throw it away, can I clean the kitchen grout any more?) and I get overwhelmed.

If I know and stick to my general procedures, I function at a higher level and I actually get projects tackled and accomplished. What about you? Do you like lists and routines? Do you do the same types of activities near the same times? What does your routine look like?


*an Amazon affiliate link. If you purchase this Exaclair Quo Vadis Habana Lined Journal (6″ x 8″ in black), for the Amazon price of $23.93, I make a teeny tiny bit of associate income. The dustbuster I linked comes highly recommended. I love it.

Is your house making you depressed?

Feeling blue?

Take a look around you right now. Is your coffee table covered in papers and books?

What about your bedroom? Is the hamper full of dirty clothes and your bed sits unmade?

Have the dishes been sitting in the sink for a week now? Could you lose your child in the playroom? Ever wonder if these things are related to your emotional state?

For me, it’s really a chicken and an egg situation: does the mess depress me or is the mess because of my depression? When I’m feeling blue, I surely don’t want to sweep, clear the dishes and put away the laundry. However, I know that doing those things also makes me feel productive and on top of things, i.e. less depressed.

Helium writer John Huetteman shares “housekeeping, whether living in squalor or not, is normally not given high priority as motivation to complete any task can be monumentally difficult.”

He also makes a great point when he reminds his readers that “the act of keeping a clean house can provide … an empowering effect during … helpless times. … cleaning house can be tantamount to a ritual cleansing during times of low self worth”. I absolutely agree with him on those points, but getting to the point where I’m motivated enough to actually do the cleaning is a big step.

While I was in college, if there was studying to be done, I would rather scrub the bathtub than flip through flashcards. I would cook elaborate meals but my German homework would go untouched. The house was spotless during finals week while I procrastinated studying.

When do you find your best cleaning time?



Your Messy House: Why It Could Be Making You Depressed – Glamour magazine tackles the problem of living in a messy house and dealing with depression

Clutter and depression – an interesting blog article about how destructive clutter can be in your house. Do you believe that clutter in your house is actually destructive for you? What about after reading this blog entry?

Is Your Living Situation Bringing You Down? – are there too many people in your house? Are there not enough people in your house? 



Eating, Drinking, and Overthinking

A recent study shows that in young women, alcohol abuse, obesity and depression are creating a “toxic triangle.”

Reuters’ article Obesity, alcohol, depression linked in women clarifies the many research results of Dr. Carolyn A McCarty (of Seattle Children’s Research Institute). 

Ultimately, McCarty was able to show that almost half of men and women involved in the study suffered from at least one of the three problems between the ages of 21 to 30 however, this is probably only the tip of the iceberg though because “researchers used fairly stringent definitions of alcohol abuse, depression and obesity” for this particular study. While I can’t find the actual definitions used, I’m sure if they were broadened, researchers could see the rest of the iceberg.

Alcohol abuse is defined as: the continued use of alcohol despite the development of social, legal or health problems (quite broad, eh?)

Obesity is defined as: a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or greater, or about 30 pounds or more over ideal body weight

Depression is defined as: a state of low mood and aversion to activity (once again, very broad)

Within McCarty’s study, the participants have been followed since 1985 – while they were fifth graders. Looking at data collected at age 24, 27 and 30, McCarty’s researchers were able to look at the “interrelationships among depression, obesity and alcohol abuse” which showed:

  • at 21, 8% of women and 12% of men had at least two of the three problems
  • over time, having more than one of the problems became more common for women but less so for men
  • women who were depressed at 27 were more than three times as likely to meet criteria for alcohol abuse or dependence at age 30
  • women who had alcohol abuse problems at 24 were 4 times as likely to be obese at 27
  • women who were obese at 27 had more than double the risk of depression at age 30
  • lower-income individuals (no matter gender) were at greater risk of both depression and obesity

One of the traits that McCarty notes as a connection includes “ruminating coping” in which a person “replays and obsesses about negative events.” This is one of the issues addressed in cognitive behavioral therapy, as well. A Yale psychologist, Susan Nolen-Hoeksma shows that men and women who ruminate are more depressed, more likely to drink or more likely to binge eat in order to cope with their emotional problems.

Providing an intervention for these coping techniques seems relatively easy: incorporating physical exercise, mindfulness training and stress management. However, there are quite often obstacles in the way of coping – even for those not suffering from depression. The brain’s “reward system” seems to be clearly connected to the “toxic triangle” and implanting new ways of rewarding the self for good events (other than food or alcohol) is a coping method that needs to be integrated into each and every one of our lives.

Do you see this “toxic triangle” in your life?

Amputation Pain Different for Females

A January 2010 study shows that amputation pain, including emotional health and pain-coping responses is much different for women than men.

In the Journal of Pain, 335 adult patients asked about the level of amputation pain and intensity (phantom pain or residual limb pain), it was clear that women reported both greater pain intensity and more anxiety about that pain. They were also more likely to note that their pain interfered with their daily activities.

Unfortunately, the results of this study show that women may be more susceptible to the “negative functional consequences of limb loss pain,” according to the University of Washington School of Medicine’s researchers. On top of this, women may suffer even more psychological problems related to that pain than men. Read more about the study: Sex differences in pain and psychological functioning in persons with limb loss.

Does this mean that all pain is experienced differently by women? Do you believe that you experience pain in a different way than your male counterpart?