The last three weeks have been anything but easy and downright distressing.
It started with a phone call from the facilities manager where my office is; a fire had broken out on the roof, and the subsequent water required to put it out had made its way into several of the offices on the fourth floor, my office location.
My office appeared unscathed in the scheme of things, but a week later, everything changed.
The leaking started from three points in the ceiling. Not good, I thought; fortunately, I’d bought in a bucket; that’s me, the think ahead and plan person, and thank god I did.
I walked into my office at just after 8 am on Monday, and I almost wept.
Water was everywhere, my work area, my desks and carpet.
I didn’t have a particularly great week before, so I was determined to start the week positively. But those thoughts didn’t last long.
The tears welled into my eyes, and my shoulders slumped.
I stood there deciding what to do first, clean up the water, but just as I was hatching a plan, my dear colleague saw the state of the office and said, hang on, I’ll go and get one of the maintenance guys.
Fortunately, I had the presence of mind to remove laptops and computers.
It was all guesswork because how can you know where the next leak will appear?
I am now using a temporary office, and the whole week is weird.
Checking my office and then walking down to a temporary office on the other side of the building feels strange.
Thirteen years I’ve been here, and I am a creature of habit.
I like familiarity and my things around me.
Although I have surprised myself by adapting quickly to the situation, it has put me out of my comfort zone.
Old habits die hard
Humans originate from primates, and our instincts direct our thoughts and habits.
As much as we believe routine isn’t essential, it is.
We need the familiarity of habit.
When you wake up in the morning, think about the rituals you perform.
Is it a glass of water first thing followed by a coffee and a shower, maybe it’s meditation, breakfast and shower?
On your commute, do you wait for your train in the same place? Do you buy your regular tea and coffee every morning?
These are all habits part of our routine, all of which make us human and who we are.
“We are what we repeatedly do”. – Aristotle
While familiarity might breed contempt, having a routine, forming habits, and rituals help us feel whole; we feel positive and upbeat if we follow a set pattern.
You might think it is boring or obsolete, becoming too dependent on habits and routines suggests that we can’t get through the day or fulfil our obligations without them.
I watch people who live by the seat of their pants, leaving everything to the last minute tearing around, grabbing what they think they need, and watch them stress because they haven’t allowed the time to follow their routine.
They are exhausted and tired, and invariably they’ve forgotten something.
Conversely, forming habits and routines can stagnate and stifle spontaneity and personal development.
Some routines are essential, like personal hygiene, washing your hands after using the toilet, making the bed before leaving for work and creating order in your household so that you know where everything is.
All of which helps us feel more calm and centred.
Being able to adapt and form natural habits are essential as long as they are beneficial for our wellbeing.
Routines, rituals and habits help us progress and develop. They help us realise who we are; conversely, chaos makes us unsettled and insecure.
The habits we develop establish the human identity that makes us individual and unique.
When you next feel unsettled and uncertain, ask yourself what has changed and try to get back to the habits that make you feel more settled and grounded.
Our habits and routines provide focus and help us navigate life.
Why the need for a routine?
Being aware of their importance and applying your daily rituals and routines is what roots and reassures us and ultimately shapes our lives.
To perfunctorily dismiss your habits and rituals neglects your well-being and self-worth.
The pandemic has heightened the need to be habit-forming and routine.
How many of you got up and started work in your PJs, including me.
After two weeks of falling outside of my routine, my life fell apart, and I woke up feeling lost, anxious and uncertain.
It was a strange time as I was awash with feelings of guilt because I didn’t go through the ritual of getting up for work in the usual way.
After all, there was no need to rush; I can start when it suits me.
Two weeks later, I realised I had to get back into my work routine.
As soon as I did, it felt better; I felt focused and able to continue with my daily life. Things got done, and I was moving forward.
When I had no routine or structure, I felt stress and anxiety. I was unable to concentrate and focus, and I felt lost and shaky.
Implementing a routine and daily structure aids mental health and reduces stress. In addition, it helps improve focus and productivity.
When life has a design, this makes us feel in control.
As we move out of lockdown, structure, and routine will be even more critical as we adapt to normality, socialising, and going back to work.
Many will be fantasising about going out with friends, clubbing, hugging, and planning holidays.
Others will feel apprehensive at the adjustment to life after lockdown.
Going back to normal will feel unsettling, back to new routines will take time to adjust, and it won’t ever feel like it did in 2019.
Believing that we can go back to how it was is unrealistic.
Many will be reluctant and avoid social contact others will ease themselves into the fray.
We need to be mindful of our feelings and that of others as we walk with some trepidation into a new dawn, but with renewed hope, we can breathe with some perturbation and start to live again.
Further reading for you