I am a creature of habit. I know this. I even acknowledge that my catholic upbringing and its constant ritual makes me feel comforted, even when I am an earth-based witch. There is just something about a routine that calms me (And most human minds) and makes me feel better. I recognized this pretty early. I know that I have OCD tendencies and not the cute ones. I get it from my dad who even had a schedule when we were on vacation. We had a weekly schedule in our house and every day knew exactly where were supposed to be and what we were supposed to be doing.
Just for reference, Obsessive compulsive order is not cute or fun. Its not just straightening napkins. Its not being able to function if things aren’t just so. It can be not being able to throw things out. For me it is obsessive behaviors like folding my laundry, having to be in a clean, uncluttered place because if its not I start to feel very nervous. Its cleaning a boyfriend’s house when its just you there because you just have to. I have to have my planner with me or I freak out and feel like I’m going to miss something, even if there is nothing to miss. Its not being able to run even a few minutes late. Its not being able to have unread emails or text messages because that if its important?! I only mention this because I do very much feel like OCD is one of those mental disorders that gets ‘cutified’. Its not cute. It can be incapacitating. It is incapacitating for me sometimes and when people giggle and say that they are OCD because they like to wipe their counters, its kind of annoying. I have learned to manage it but still deal with the anxiety and self-loathing that comes with OCD behaviors.
One of the cooping techniques I was long ago given was to lean into the things that do make me feel comfortable so that when there is something that is out of my control, at least I still have habits that give me some kind of ritualistic comfort. Some of these things are things that everyone does, which also helps me because it makes me feel normal. During Covid these were actually even more helpful for me. Most of all when it came to lock downs because the majority of them don’t actually depend on going places that we weren’t allowed to. It let me stick with things that made life feel closer to normal. All of these habits tend to be pretty accessible, and I do hope that they help other people get in some kind of routine that make them feel comfortable in the world.
Take care of my Skin
I know that this might seem selfish and maybe it is a little bit vein but I love to take care of my skin. It’s a thing. I didn’t learn how to take care of my skin until high school and college. Before that it was all about getting ride of acne- not that that’s possible for a teenager but I tried-. Once I grew out of that stage, stopped eating dairy and generally grew up I realized how good my skin actually is. I don’t wear a lot of make up so where some focus on that, I focus on actual skin care. I love using a GUa Sha, putting on face masks, using eye creams, ect. It makes me feel like I’m taking care of my physical health, even if its on a basic level.
My family is a bit weird about that. My mom hasn’t really taken good care of herself in this regard and there has always been an emphasis on ‘natural’ beauty. The problem is that that mean pretending or actually not doing anything at all, which we all know isn’t how any kind of female beauty really works. This act of self-care is also an act of self-love where I remind myself that I’m worth the time that I’m taking.
My gratitude log is something that I have now been doing daily for the past 2 years…maybe three. It has been something I have been doing since my divorce. I started doing it when I was still going through the mental trauma. But then it just became a really beneficial habit that takes care of my mental health with very little effort. Every morning, as I have my coffee, I write five things that I am thankful for. They can be big things like buying my own wheel (Hopefully soon buying my own kiln will be in there too) to little things like being able to watch the new episode of my favorite show that night. Either way they are things that I am grateful for. They remind me of all the little and big good things that are happening of my life, which is really helpful when I have a bad day at work or get into a slump.
One of the best compliments I ever got was from an ex coworker who told me that I was such a positive happy person, even when we were having bad days here and how did I do this? This was a huge thing for me to hear because I have not always been a positive person. In fact I had to make a conscious decision to stop being so negative. I told her about my log and she looked shocked.
“Five!? That’s so many!” She told me in surprise. I told her to start with one. Just one. As you go on, it will become easier and easier. And it has for me. Sometimes I write bonus ones now!
Have My Planner
I legitimately don’t know how people use their phones as planners. I wish I did. I actually tried to use my google calendar as my planner for a little while but for me there is just something about having my physical planner. I have a beautiful A5 , fake leather planner that I ordered and get pages for on Etsy. Seeing everything laid out in front of me is important and I love the satisfaction of checking things off of my top do list. I love checking off my water intake and it reminds me. There is also a food log that I use to see what makes my stomach hurt and to make sure I don’t skip meals (A bad habit of an eating disorder survivor). I do this because I know I can’t leave a space unfilled, so this helps me.
Of course, you have to do what works best for you but for me? A planner is the key to knowing that I have gotten the things I want to get done done and a tool to help me feel like I have accomplished something by the end of the day.
Aside from my gratitude log, I am a huge fan of writing in my journal. During Nano I haven’t been journaling too much besides for my standard gratitude log because I have basically been writing and journaling on her. But having pen to paper in a short journal entry (And sometimes not very short!) Is very therapeutic. It doesn’t have to be serious, sometimes it can be a writing prompt even that is completely fictional! But writing helps me move past any mental constipation. I also love this because I get to write with my amazing role play friends. Writing fiction with them really takes me out of anything serious that is going on and lets me focus on something else, something fictional that will have very few consequences, a welcomed relief in this world.
I’m not talking about social media here, though I do aborbed a carefully curated amount of that as well. But general stories help me out. I love podcasts of cults, serial killers, weird history and anything of the like. I also have a few TV shows that I am completely dedicated too (Though not as many as some.). I actively watch these and wait for them all week instead of just having them play mindlessly in the back. I actually even have a Murder Board that I made (Red lines and all) for Only Murders in the Building as it went on. The point of these is to take you out of your own reality. This can be very important during stressful times and times when you don’t feel in control. It also has been showing that people who read a lot as children tend to be more empathetic since stories and tv shows along with a lot of books are told from a third person prospective, enabling people to develop the ability to think outside of their own limited view.
I just started really meditating this year and an on a streak of 74 days! Mediating is something that I am learning in order to calm my mind and think away from the OCD thoughts that have defined so many other topics in this entry. I have been using the Head Space app to help me learn this skill and guide me with their beginner programs. I am finding this really soothing, most of all when I start feeling that inner sense of dread that can sit on your chest.
Get some kind of exercise
I love to run. I’ve run every length of race up to marathon and it means the world to me. However at the beginning of the year when I started getting really sick and feeling like there were rocks in my intestines I had to stop for a while. I was just so bloated that even walking hurt sometimes. While I was getting diagnosed- later to be found to be celiac disease- I couldn’t do much. I tried but every step felt like my stomach was about to explode. I have started running again, slowly building up my time and realize just how much this has become a huge part of my identity. I love doing it and I really love the fact that at the end of the day, I feel tired, partly because of it.
We hear a lot about how moving is important for our health and that is obvious, but it can be pivotal to our mental health too. Having a goal is something that a lot of adults don’t have in their personal lives and being on some sort of training plan, even if its for a 5k, gives us that very really, very immediate and very concrete goal that can push us forward. This can be more important than we think it is for our mental health.
Ready for this simple anyone can do it task? Straighten up your space. Get stuff off your floor before you settle in for bed. Our space is ours and should serve to relax us. For me that means doing a quick, sometimes only five minutes, sweep of my room and studio where I make sure everything is in the right place and off the surfaces. I don’t like clutter and feel far more relaxed without it. Straightening up your space should be something that should be done every night and should be made a habit of. Think of it as the reverse of the old adage that you should make your bed every morning to make sure you have one thing checked off your list. Straightening up before bed ensures that you will wake up in a peaceful, uncluttered environment in the morning.
Go To Sleep/ Wake up at the same time
I am such a huge fan of a proper night of sleep. I have never been the kind that can pull all nights and when I get tired, I get grouchy! I don’t want to be out at a bar at one in the morning. Mostly because I don’t like being out past 11 on weekends (Tops!) and I know I’m going to wake up at 7 am no matter what, even if I try to sleep in. I go to sleep every night by ten and on the weekends the latest I wake up in 7:30. My body just naturally does it. Identifying this about myself is something that changed my life. I’m not going to fight my need to 8 hours of proper sleep. I like waking up at the same time too. There are no surprises that way and I rarely run late because of it.