Routine as a coping strategy

Coping with life in the midst of enduring heart-crushing pain can often seem impossible. Coping with the pain and trying to be “okay” for your children can be even more difficult. A wise woman, who jokingly refers to herself as a “recovered divorcee turned guru”, helped me through a very very scary, sad and stressful time.

She advised me to create a daily routine. Just like children thrive on discipline, boundaries and routine, so do adults. We sat down and made three lists: the “must do list”, the “mental health list” and the “feel good list”.

Things on the must-do list included all the non-negotiable chores in my daily routine – grocery shopping, school lifting and homework-supervising.

My mental health list included things that were vital for my mental health and stability, like scheduling time for meals and exercise, even if it was only a twenty minute walk.

The feel-good list included activities like listening to music, dancing, reading and writing – things that fed my soul and made my heart happy.

 Scheduling a routine during the week was actually quite easy. Being a working mom, there is seldom much free time. Creating a routine on the weekends was slightly trickier. It was even more difficult to create a routine on the weekends when my children were with my ex husband. In the beginning, I was so paralyzed by my pain that I found difficultly even thinking what I would derive pleasure from doing. As my pain lifted, I looked forward to Monday evenings, when I would sit and schedule my week ahead. I found that having a plan for my “childless” weekends calmed my panic and anxiety. Eventually, I actually began looking forward to the weekends that I had planned. I no longer felt the anticipatory loneliness and dread.

 When I was no longer in such deep grief, I began scheduling time for morning journalling and for making lists of things I was grateful for. I found the journalling to be exceptionally therapeutic and it was quite astonishing to page back and see how far I had progressed. Scheduling formal time for journalling and making my gratitude lists ensured that I actually got round to doing them.

 Being newly divorced was a sad, scary and daunting place. Creating a formal routine which allowed time for all that was mandatory, necessary and soul-nurturing was a huge stepping-stone in my journey to recovery and finding ultimate happiness.

 

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