>What’s next? Planning during depression

>Looking forward while suffering from depression is a necessary challenge. Setting up routines and sticking to them while still allowing time to rest and rejuvenate – that’s a difficult balance to find. I am settling into routines in the mornings. With school no longer part of my daily schedule, I’ve filled the mornings – but not too full.

Getting up with Chuck starts my day. Even if I haven’t slept well (Darn those stress-filled nightmares!), I’ll drag myself out of bed and come downstairs, feed the bunnies, start the coffeepot. My morning routine is fairly relaxing and allows room for a nap if, as I mentioned, I didn’t sleep well the night before.
  • start coffee
  • feed bunnies (They’re always happy to see me. Pets are wonderful.)
  • read newspaper & have breakfast
  • watch morning news shows, sip coffee
  • check personal emails and blogs
Now comes the tough part, the part of the routine that has the potential to cause blood pressure spikes and stomach aches.
  • Check school email. I’m still in communication with a few of my coworkers, and there may be important information I need. For now, I check it daily. Later, I’ll reduce my school email checks to once or twice a week.
  • Work on progress reports. This was part of my commitment to making my leave of absence smooth and seamless for my replacement; finishing the semester one progress reports. Fortunately, we have a new online progress report, and I can access the system from home.
  • Click Save on the progress reports, refill coffee, relax.
  • Read. Reading for pleasure keeps my mind occupied and lets my body rest.
These may seem like small goals and an overly simple routine. But during depression, attainable goals are important. Making supper each day feels like a huge accomplishment. Making a to-do list is alright, but the list must be reasonable. If it’s too long, finishing the tasks could cause a collapse from exhaustion.
Long term planning isn’t realistic right now. Making big decisions – career changes, moving, major projects – isn’t a good idea while my mind and body are so wiped out. I’m taking one graduate class online, and I continue to blog and work on a family writing project. And if we get snowed in? For me, there will be little or no change. We have plenty of coffee and hot cocoa and a big bag of bunny food in case of winter emergency.
Keeping change to a minimum, no matter how it happens, is the best plan for right now.

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