resetting with rest + routines
because gettin your sh*t together is a journey, not a destination
October is one of my favorite months. Crisp air, amber and crimson leaves, cozy sweaters, and warm beverages; it is all so sensual and grounding. I long for autumn in the peak of sweltering summer heat when my social calendar and work obligations become relentless. This past summer, in particular, was a bit of a whirlwind. The Great Lockdown of 2020 resulted in a collective FOMO, a palpable shift in how much we engage with others IRL altered many of our thresholds for socializing and productivity. There did not seem to be a sense of easing back into things, instead, many of us went full steam ahead into reclaiming the parts of our lives we temporarily lost in 2020. As for me, I produced five projects, traveled to two countries, and attempted to be more outgoing than I'd typically be. By the end of September, I was burnt out and in need of deep recalibration. As the frenetic energy of the summer months began to reach a decrescendo, I took time to reflect on what needed to shift to protect my peace and maintain some semblance of balance.
It was time to hit the reset button on my life (word to my late great uncle Kevin) and as it turns out for me, the best way to reset is to get back to prioritizing my rest and routines. Last year, I edited a piece on UNPOPCULTR where I asked people about their ideal daily routine versus their slump day routine in quarantine. In reading these, I felt a deep sense of admiration, envy even, for people who seemed to be accomplishing more than I was on an ideal day for me on a slump day for them. Working on that piece was a catalyst in cultivating my own routine but also showed me where my limitations are as a person who deals with ADHD and anxiety.
In a perfect world, I would start every day fully rested with 8 hours of sleep followed by a morning meditation session, a workout, and finish it off by eating a healthy breakfast while doing my morning reading before logging into my e-mails. At night, I would do deep stretching, drink some magnesium or some kind of relaxant adaptogen and finish with a wind-down meditation. While I have practiced this "perfect world" routine, I've never been able to do it consistently. I'll have a stretch of a few days where I'm hitting every mark and then there comes a day where I'm too tired for the workout or experiencing too much mental overload to do my morning reading. In the evening, I may make time to do deep stretches but will watch an episode of Golden Girls before bed instead of doing a wind-down meditation.
There was a past version of me that would definitely beat myself up for this but I'm learning to have grace for myself and be realistic. Instead of viewing my routines as a strict regimen, I use them as a tool. Some parts of my routines will be more essential than others based on my mental headspace and the amount of time I have to allocate toward them. There are days where I’ll need sleep more than meditation, or a good book more than a workout. What matters is that I am equipped with the full capacity to follow through on tasks before I set out to do them and If I’m not, I do what is necessary to be more prepared next time. There is no failure in showing up for yourself, even when you feel you could’ve done more. The best I can do is revisit my routines in whatever small ways that I can, to restore balance to my life when I'm feeling off or out of control.
This time around, I wanted to take my routine rebuilding process just one step further and write down my observations in a morning check-in/intention-setting journal session. Specifically, I wanted to identify any triggers for my ADHD and anxiety. Each morning after meditating, I'd take 5 minutes to write short blurbs about the key elements of my mental wellness: sleep, focus, and follow-through.
In this blurb, I’d write how I slept and if there was anything I did the night before that impacted it, i.e. drinking, smoking a heavy indica or consuming caffeine.
This section was about my ability to focus throughout the day. How did I feel during my morning meditation, did I struggle to shut out the chatter? Could I have done a shorter or longer session? How much time did I spend on social media? What were my distractions throughout the day?
What was accomplished the day before? How many of my to-do list items did I complete? What prevented me from completing the tasks I did not finish?
Each day, I would review the entry from the previous day and compare and contrast. I'd cross out the things on my to-do list that I was able to accomplish and carry over the outstanding tasks into the new day. A couple of insights I found that were helpful:
Caffeine is not the girl you think she is. Sure, she can give you a little perk but if you're someone like me who is caffeine sensitive, that perk quickly becomes a dependency that impacts my ability to have restful sleep thus creating an increased need for it the following morning and a vicious cycle that cannot be broken until it's time for the weekend. Unless I’m hungover or extremely sleep-deprived, I’m saying NO to the cold brew and vanilla oat lattes.
Sleep. is. everything. I know I say this from a place of privilege as a childless person but seriously if you are struggling and can prioritize sleep, DO IT. I missed out on some of my TV shows and had less time to hang out with people or do anything productive in the evening, but my brain and body thanked me.
Trying to knock off everything on my to-do list in one day or even a week plus do my job and take care of my basic needs is way too much pressure. Typically, I was able to get about 3 things done each day and carry over the rest to the next's day to-do list. As the week progressed, my outstanding task list gradually started to decrease until everything was done. Nobody is superhuman and there are only so many hours in a day, just because something has to get done doesn't mean it's urgent or worth stressing over.
Structure can be good, even if you're only maintaining it for a little while. Instead of viewing structure as something I lack, I can look at it as a pathway to realign myself and reorganize my life when it's in disarray. Ideally, I’d like to be able to do my “perfect world” routine every day but the world is not perfect, and neither am I— and as my mama used to tell me progress is better than perfection.
Be kind to yourself, ya'll!
What I'm Watching
Listen, keeping up with all of these damn shows is A LOT so I was late to the game with Sex Education but I'm here now and adore this show. My favorite character is Eric but I also love Aimee and personally connect to Maeve. Season 3 was so gooood, I won't give away any deets but I will share this controversial (to me) TikTok that theorizes what each character's astrological big 3 are --- I totally think they got Maeve wrong, she gives me Scorpio Sun / Capricorn Moon / Aquarius rising energy.
What I'm Listening To
My whole vibe is right now is blissful introversion. This year, a lot of indie artists have released music that speaks to self-care, solitude, working through anxiety and depression so of course, I started to make a soundtrack (re: playlist) for this vibe. As always, I'll be building onto this as I discover new songs that align with it so follow + share!
Who I’m Supporting
As the winter months start to creep up, seasonal depression will soon be rearing its ugly head. One mental health resource I find particularly important is The Loveland Foundation. Founded by author and activist Rachel Cargle, The Loveland Foundation offers financial assistance for Black women and girls in need of therapy. In addition to their therapy fund, they also recently launched a podcast called ‘The Unfolding’ and are aiming to host fellowships and residency programs that will support Black women in search of mental health care in the future.
That's it for this one!
Catch me on these digital streets