Saturday, October 31, 2015

10 tips to avoid the cycle of Depression and Disorganisation....

 
"Possessions, like fat, insulate us from the outside world, building a wall of junk which we can hide behind. Our clutter becomes an insular mechanism for shielding ourselves from pain. We all do this to some degree, but few ever make the correlation. The sheer act of acquiring stuff, too, can be a self-medication. How many of us shop in order to feel better? But it´s a temporary fix that, in the end, only adds to our depression.”– Christy Best, Professional Organizer
 
This is a topic that fascinates me, because I see not only myself, but most of my family and friends flitting along a sliding scale of mood and materialism much of the time. Shop to feel better? Sure! Then feel overwhelmed by clutter? You bet! Declutter and start all over again? Often! We've all done it if we're honest with ourselves.
 
Well, I'm no expert, but I have learned a few things over my 50+ years here on the good Earth. Here's my personal thoughts on this topic. I'm no professional, but I'm a Mum and Nanna, and have been a career girl and a stay at home Mum, a single parent and a married one, so I've seen life from all sides.
 
First of all, if we are organised, and live in a household run on a smart routine, a budget that allows for a bit of fun whilst still meeting our commitments, and healthy lifestyle habits, we won't need to 'shop to feel better'. We'll feel content with what we have, and where we are in the scheme of life. This goes for the entire family. A peaceful home, generates people who are at peace with life.
 
If we are busy AND disorganised, routines evaporate in a puff of good intent, and we can spiral into a sort of temporary chaos. Not only do you suffer personally, but smart routines, clever budgets and good habits tend to go down the toilet, so the entire family suffers. The family get tired and scratchy with one another because they're out of routine with sleeping and waking times, they eat poorly because basic food pyramid and 5/2 fruit and veg servings are abandoned,  we neglect our 8 glasses of water a day so our body and it's waste elimination cycles don't function efficiently, we feel sluggish because we don't get out in the open air and exercise and get our Vitamin D. It all adds up to yuck.
 
The washing then mounts up because we're tired and out of sorts, and can't be bothered, and stress ensues because someone doesn't have a part of their uniform or a shirt for work. Meals are focused on quick and easy, rather than tasty and nutritious because we're all worn out. More scratchiness results and we're all unhappy. Does this sound familiar?
 
You can then become stonewalled and I know if it's me, I don't attend to important tasks in a timely fashion, because the sheer number and enormity of tasks overwhelms me. In preference to tackling things in my usual timely and orderly fashion, I do nothing, or distract myself with unnecessary tasks, because I can't complete things to the high standards I set myself. Is that you too?
 
Then I start to feel like a Deer in the headlights, where I simply can't start on anything, because I can't make a decision on what tasks need my attention at a given moment. I get out of the house and go browsing in my favourite homewares, garden or thrift shop because it soothes my mind. Then nothing gets done, and I'll usually arrive home with some little purchase or other, and the buzz I just got from my little spend-up evaporates because all of those tasks are still there. Stuff still needs to be done. The amount of money spent is not the point. Mostly it's $10 or less. It's just that it's not an item I need, and it's comfort is extremely temporary.
 
The thing is, that all we have in a day is a string of moments. And it's what we do with that string of moments, that dictates whether we have a peaceful life, or a chaotic one.
 
That's where my Mum used to say 'Just do one thing Darling. Then do one thing more.'
 
Of all the advice my Mum ever gave me, that is probably the most useful. Do one thing. Then do one thing more, then another. Don't think. Don't procrastinate. Just start. And keep going. It's a really valuable mindset to cultivate.
 
Now on the subject of depression, which apparently is the curse of modern society and now being treated in epidemic proportions, I've seen people who are depressed because they have nothing, and I've seen people who are depressed despite having everything a human being could want. Conversely, some of the most content folk I know, have 'nothing' compared to others. And the ones who have 'everything' and are content, would happily give it all away tomorrow and still be content.
 
So how is this 'contentment' accomplished? It clearly doesn't have much to do with 'having' or 'not having'. It has to do with 'being'. And learning to just 'be', is a fast disappearing skill in todays must-have society.
 
Can I share some tips that have worked for me? They're not a magic solution, and I don't pretend they'll work for everyone. But maybe they can help you too. Maybe, just maybe, they'll help you to find time in your day to just BE.
 
1. Get enough sleep. Seriously, this one thing can make all the difference. That might mean disconnecting from technology earlier in the evening, watching less TV, going to bed earlier, and making sure that you've exerted yourself sufficiently throughout the day to actually tire yourself out. If you've sat around on the computer all day, not only will you not have accomplished much else, but your body simply won't be ready to sleep. It might mean seriously evaluating your caffeine or alcohol intake. It's well known that those two things are sleep thieves. It might mean something more basic like whether your bed is comfortable, whether your pillow needs renewing, or the linen needs changing. And give your brain time to wind down too. A little quiet time whether via a warm shower with lavender body wash, or a soak in the bath with candles lit, is a good strategy.
 
2. Eat well, and eat nutritiously. I do not advocate giving up sugar or carbs or any other of a million things that are supposed to be bad for us. I've always thought the mantra 'all things in moderation' was a good one. If you're not familiar with the Healthy Food Pyramid, Google it and re-familiarise yourself with what is recommended for a human body to function at it's peak. I bet it isn't takeaway and deep fried. Go to bed on the hungry side of full. A full stomach at bed time is another sure fire way to deprive yourself of a restful night. Indigestion anyone?
 
3. Spend a part of your evening, preparing for tomorrow. Train your family to do the same. Set out the breakfast dishes, fill the kettle, make the lunches. Iron your outfit if it needs it, set out your accessories, make sure the kids have done their homework and that any messages or notes from school have been handed to whomever in the family is the designated 'note reading' person. Sign permission slips, put money into envelopes or transfer it online...however your school does it. Then it's done. Don't leave things till the deadline to act.
 
4. Make sure the car is fuelled and ready to go, or that everyone has their bus pass or train ticket or whatever it is they need. You don't want to run late because of a basic transport failure.
 
5. Get up at the same time every day. The human body likes to know what comes next. Go to bed at the same time, get up at the same time, just for a week, and see if you don't feel better. We get up at the same time every day, even on weekends. We accomplish so much more that way.
 
6. Try to keep all of your tasks contained within each day. By that I mean do todays washing today, get it dry, fold it and store it. Don't let todays washing (or meeting, or report) mount up with tomorrows and the day afters. If Tuesday is shopping day and Wednesday is cleaning day, don't let the shopping, the cleaning and your Thursday tasks, mount up until Thursday when you've probably also got to pay bills or go to work, and suddenly you find you're under pressure to do three days worth of stuff in one day. I call it Task Leakage. I avoid Task Leakage at all costs. If it means I'm up an hour earlier to hang washing to achieve this, then so be it.
 
7. Get the family in on the routines. If they can help accomplish some of the tasks in your routine, then so much the better. My family know that if their dirty clothes aren't in the clothes basket by 7am, they don't get washed today. They know that if they haven't written their needs and wants on the shopping list by shopping day, they miss out for a week. They know that the school snacks are all on the third shelf of the fridge and the middle section of the kitchen cupboard. All else is off bounds. They know that Week 1 on our family menu means Thai Noodles and home made Cornetto icecreams, and Week 4 means Lasagna and home made Toasted Marshmallows. Don't bother asking me to change. You get what you like once a month, I get to choose not to cook it unless it's on the menu that week!
 
8. Prioritise. Making gifts for friends and family is a favourite pastime of mine. But
what's the point of making a birthday present for a birthday three months from now, if you haven't done the washing and prepared the meal for today? That creates stress on every possible level, rather than alleviating it, which is the intent of making my own gifts. I think sometimes we bloggers are a bit guilty of this one. We need a photo or a post for the blog, so common sense flies out the window. That's a path to blog burnout and family stress. Attend to the needs of your real life before you worry about your online one. The online community can wait. Make up two lists. One called 'Essential Tasks', and called 'Fun Stuff' or any variation on that theme. Before you can start on a task on the Fun Stuff list, you have to accomplish three on the Essentials Task list. What a great motivator this can be. You'll be amazed how quickly and efficiently you'll whizz through those Essentials to get to the Fun. I promise! And the best part is, you get to do your Fun Stuff, guilt free.
 
9. If you feel you're in that Deer in the Headlights mode, the best course of action is action. Do something. Anything. But it must be something on the 'Essential Tasks' list. Do one thing as Mum always said. Then do one thing more. Keep going.
 
10. Don't let anyone guilt you out of your well earned routines and sense of accomplishment. Yes it might be boring to your friends that you won't meet them for a coffee and a spendup because you're too busy baking for the week, or cutting and colouring your own hair, or doing your budget for the next month, but who'll be laughing come tomorrow or next month, when you're organised and they're not? Learn to nurture a sense of accomplishment and joy in the simple tasks of a well run home, and teach your family to do the same. You will feel so free.
 
I hope some of my advice is helpful to you. Like I said, I'm not a professional, but I have seen a bit of life, and I know what's worked for me. I hope it works for you too. I hope it helps you find the time to BE, and helps you find a path to being FREE.
 
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40 comments:

  1. Mimi, you have nailed this topic. I was glued to my IPad screen reading this. So important to keep on top of 'stuff and things'. And sleep and nutrition is critical!!! I am grateful that I have no trouble sleeping, and often say this. Shopping I am working on...but much better the last couple of years. Xx

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    1. It's all common sense really isn't it Flora? The trouble is that common sense is not that 'common' any more. I wish my Nanna was here. She's sort everyone out ;-) Love, Mimi xxx

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  2. Mimi, as always, your housekeeping advice is spot on, and makes me think, 'Of course! It's so simple. Just do the jobs!' You know, ever since you first mentioned it I have often heard your mum's words in my head, "You CAN do one more thing." And she is right. I CAN always do that 'one more thing':) Thanks so much for this reminder xx

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    1. Yep...just do the thing. Then another thing. It's not rocket science. It's sometimes just dogged persistence. Nobody every 'felt like doing housework'. That's why it's called a chore...lol! Mum would be so chuffed to think that a perfect stranger hears her wise words. Thankyou. Mimi xxx

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  3. Dear Mimii, I have had "do the next thing" as my reminder which is almost identical. It has helped me so many times.
    I see it all as things are humming along or in a downward spiral or upward spiral. It doesn't take heaps to start a downward spiral! As you say sleep goes, healthy eating goes, routine goes, chaos ensues.
    I think routine is so important! People live in chaos. Constant drama and panic. Not healthy.
    Also I notice so many people barely sleep. They don't even put their children to bed. It is all go day and night.
    Good old fashioned routine, wholesome meals, organisation... a simple life... is so nice. I often have to stop and decide hang on this or that is getting to be too much and slow down the pace again. When it's right simple things like cooking a nice meal, making a gift etc are so lovely. There is so much to do that is good and happy I don't look to shop and wonder why I ever did.
    I did years ago shop for recreation and enjoyed it. Now I just hate it! I would rather be home being constructive. A happy homelfe has probably made the difference there.
    Our Mothers idea of being sensible would go a long way in solving many problems. Many things don't date or change. Good sleep (9 hours for me) healthy food, a secure and happy home... these make up for a lot that might go wrong in the day. Making home a sanctuary is a good mission. Maybe the belief that homemaking is really important and not a waste of time has helped me. Treating it like a job as you say and doing it properly... this helps as I am proud of it. The message that you are wasting your time and should do something more worthwhile is so sad and damaging.
    Enought from me... I have suffered depression and know about upward and downward spirals and are always on the watch! Love Annabel.xxx

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    1. Dear Annabel...yes we think similarly on this, I know. I like that metaphor of the downward spiral or the upward one. That's really visual and powerful. I know young families who struggle with their little ones, and they really can't see that simple routines are the key. My granddaughters have a strict routine thanks to my son and his wife, and they are such angels. Children crave routine in fact! And yes, what you say about just slowing down is so important. Being a home manager is valuable and should be seen as vital to the development of the family unit. I don't know where that got lost. It's so sad. Hopefully we as the new Elders, can help turn that around a little. Love, Mimi xxx

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  4. All of this is sound advice and very timely for me. Thank you Mimi x

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    1. Dear jazz. I am pleased. Let me know how you go. Sending hugs. Mimi xxx

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  5. This posts is great Mimi, and timely for me. Last week I felt really overwhelmed looking around my house at all the things I wasn't happy with. So I wrote them down. There were a lot!! And then I started doing them. The plan is for one a day, and so far I've kept to that. Of course there are all of the every day tasks as well, but I've helped myself by preparing double meals, and the same for baking so that on days I need more time to do some of the bigger tasks I can grab a meal from the freezer. I won't lie, two weeks in there are still loads of things to do, but in small areas I can see the progress. And most importantly I can feel the progress, bit by bit it's starting to feel a bit more organised around here.

    I really appreciate your posts about managing the home, it's so nice to read about the value you place on the role of staying at home. And honestly, quite heartwarming for a stay at home mum like myself who can sometimes feel a bit like the odd one out for the lifestyle I choose to live! Have a lovely week :)

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    1. Jen, I think we all have those weeks, so don't feel bad! The main thing is to tackle it in a positive manner, and it sounds like you are doing that. Done one thing, and keep going. That's the key. I'm glad my posts on this topic 'speak' to you. Love, Mimi xxx

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  6. Dear Mimi, such a brilliant post! xo

    I saw a little sign about "not living in procrasti nation" this morning, then came home and read your post today! Procrastination has such a paralysing effect on us, like you said, feeling like a deer in the headlights!

    I love your dear mother's advice, like others say too, to "do the next thing!" We have a terrible time overthinking and analysing everything these days. It really is a very simple answer in essence!

    Thanks so much, love Kaye xoxo

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    1. Dear Kaye, thankyou! Procrastination really can be paralysing, as you've said. And the only remedy is action. I've done this so many times. Looked at what needs doing and inwardly sighed and almost given up. But then I do that one thing, which leads to another and another, until sometimes my husband is saying to me at 7pm...'Are you going to sit now or what?'....lol! But what you achieve if you can just take that first step, is astounding. Less thinking, more doing...that was another Mum-ism. Love, Mimi xxx

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  7. Not only are your tips and advice spot on but your style of writing kept my interest ALL the way through your post. Excellent job!

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    1. Dear Lori, thankyou for your lovely comment. It made my day to have you stop by. Love, Mimi xxx

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  8. Mimi, my hubby is a hoarder and it drives me to distraction and can make one feel down at times. I was thinking today that I need to declutter more of my 'stuff' if I can't declutter his. A very wise post....as usual! :-)

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    1. Dear Chel. That is so hard for you both. My brother is like this and it's very hard for him and those around him. I think if you can carve yourself a haven somewhere, it helps you to have that little piece of serenity. I hope you have that. Mimi xxx

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  9. Thank you for this. I am gong through these steps with my counselor, but it's good to hear I am on the right track.

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    1. Likewise, I'm glad to hear that I am too! Thankyou! I hope things improve for you. Let me know how you go GE. Mimi xxx

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  10. great Blog Mimi ..I do try .I made a slow cooker casserole yesterday for today Melbourne cup day so we can watch the races and not worry about dinner ..asked hubby to put it in the fridge before bed and he forgot !!!! so hot tongue and cold shoulder for him tonight ...

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    1. Duchess, how lovely to see you here! Naughty Jeeves! Men can't be trusted with casseroles. Mine has done the same....lol! Have a great Melbourne Cup day anyway lovely lady. Mimi xxx

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  11. Great post and the first part describes me to a T!

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    1. I think it describes many of us Debbie! Thanks for stopping by. Mimi xxx

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  12. This is great advice! I also like the idea of #8 with the essential list and the fun stuff list as a reward. That kind of motivation works for me! Thank you for sharing this week on the Art of Home-Making Mondays dearie! :)

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    1. My pleasure Jes, my love. Thanks for the comment. Number 8 works for me every single day! Love, Mimi xxx

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  13. A great post Mimi, all of the above help so much if you are suffering depression. I have suffered but being organised and having structure in our lives helps immensely . I know if clutter starts to build up or things don't get done I start to get anxious .
    All of the above suggestion will help so many people.

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  14. Dear Debbie, I'm so glad that anyone thinks this is helpful. I just thought I'd put my strategies out there. I have never been diagnosed with depression, but my sisters and I are mindful that Mum suffered with it (and was undiagnosed) for the last 30 years of her life. We all take proactive steps to ensure that our risk is minimised and these things are all things that I think accomplish that. Love, Mimi xxx

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  15. This is a really great post! Thanks for sharing!

    Thanks for joining Cooking and Crafting with J & J!

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  16. Oh, I really needed this post today! Thank you! I love your moms motto, do one thing. then do one thing more- this is great!

    Carrie
    curlycraftymom.com

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    1. Dear Carrie, I'm pleased that Mums mantra speaks to you too. It really does work. In fact, I find that once I get going, it feels good to just keep going. Mimi xxx

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  17. Hi Mimi,
    Thanks for the great post on staying organized and for sharing this at Cooking and Crafting with J & J. Have a wonderful weekend.
    Julie xo

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    1. Thanks for stopping by Julie. Always a pleasure to see you. Mimi xxx

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  18. I'm happy to let you know that I'm featuring this post at our Monday Cooking and Crafting with J & J Link Up!
    Thanks Mimi we hope to see you again!
    Julie

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    1. Thanks Julie! I'm honoured! Mimi xxx

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  19. Morning Mimi.

    "The trouble is that common sense is not that 'common' any more" isn't THAT the truth!

    My hubby would get up at 4:30 to go to work everyday and he has been retired for a few years and still gets up at 4:30!! I told him sleep in but he said it's his routine.

    Great post and congrats on the feature.

    Linda

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    1. Hi Linda. I'm so glad you stopped by. Yes those humble routines can be very ingrained. It's not a bad thing if you use it to your advantage. I hope your hubby is a gardener or tinkerer and lets YOU sleep in while he gardens or tinkers! Mimi xxx

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  20. This is great, thank you! What to do if your husband is not a routine/schedule type person? I can't impose it on him, but things get to the point you've described for both of us quite easily. It is when we have too much going on, or are overcommitted for a season. You are right, it affects all aspects of life, our day times, night times, relating with each other and our children, our finances, meals, homecare, etc.

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    1. Hi...I would love to address you by name, but that's no biggie. This is a difficult one, but not impossible. Why is he not a routine or schedule sort of person? If you work, have a family, and eat meals, then some sort of routine usually exists, even if you're not aware of it. Is there shift work or lots of sports or other activities involved that lead to messy days and nights? Are there medical reasons for the lack of routine? You poor darling, it sounds as if things really are a muddle for you. I'd love to offer you some support and advice, but I need a little more info. If you come back, would you like to fill me in a bit more? Or email me privately? Looking forward to hearing from you. I'd love to try and help. Mimi xxx

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I love hearing from you! I always respond to comments, so don't be shy! Mimi xxx