This isn’t normal. This is not something that I chose. This is not what I want to be doing right now. I just want to have control again. I just want to feel like me again. These are the thoughts that have been going through my mind lately. If I’m honest, these statements played on a loop over and over again until I was finally able to turn them off.

How did I stop the loop from playing? How was I able to feel like I got a bit of control back in my life? How did I start to feel like me again? How did I figure out how to live day to day in this “new normal”?

Grace. I started with Grace. Not an everyday amount of grace, a huge amount of grace. Enough grace that it could fit into the back of a semi-truck, amount of grace. Grace to remind myself that I am doing the best that I can. Grace to not have all of the answers. Grace to be focused on progress and not perfection. Grace to try new things, and if and when they don’t work out like I expected them to, grace to pivot and adjust accordingly.

Armed with grace, the next step was to look at my routines. Now, in a typical, regular day a routine set to specific times and days would work out beautifully. It would give us some solid parameters and structure. It’s just the thing the a-type personality that I have love routines. I love routines. I repeat…I love routines.

The thing is, the time that we are in right now is different from any that we have experienced before. Since it’s anything but typical routines can’t be done the way that they used to be, but they still are so very necessary. They help to give us a framework so that we feel like we have some handle on what is happening in our lives. They help us to make sure that we are attending to our needs. They help to give us a reminder that the world will return to some sort of order when all of this is said and done, even if we don’t know when that will be.

So how do we go about establishing some sort of routine? We focus on our “needs” and our “wants”. Our “needs” are our non-negotiables. They are the activities that must be done, either daily or weekly, that are of benefit to our daily and weekly mental, physical, and emotional help. They are the activities that we set up boundaries for and we are clear about those boundaries to our circle, be it our family or our colleagues. They are the activities that are our signposts along the way of our day that make us feel like ourselves again and allow our confidence to start to rebuild.

Our “wants” are the activities that would be nice to do, but could be put on the back burner if needed. When you are considering the difference between “needs” and “wants” don’t be afraid to be clear, open, and honest with yourself. What would have been classified as a “want” last month could now be classified as a “need” and that’s okay. The point is to recognize what you need to allow yourself to be your healthiest version and then being upfront with yourself and your circle with that information.

Once your activities are sorted it helps to not look at the day as a whole, but instead break the day into three sections: morning, midday, and evening. When we look at the day as a whole it is often overwhelming and very easy for us to pack it with so many activities that the expectations become unrealistic. That sets us up for an increase in stress and a feeling of failure. By breaking the day into three sections you can set up your non-negotiable activities and offer yourself some flexibility within each of the sections. For instance, perhaps you establish what your wake-up time will be and that you will get done two to three activities or tasks within the morning timeframe. Once those are done, you are then free to do something from your midday or evening section or to simply use that extra time for a “want” activity instead.

This is uncharted territory that we have found ourselves in. We are all doing the best that we can. Giving yourself the gift of grace and the permission to create new routines are within your power. Choose to exercise that power.

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