Tag Archives: Mental Health & Happiness

Routines: A Comfort and Mind-Numbing

By Nancy S Buck, PhD, RN

Presently my life is undergoing a complete change. I feel as though I’m living in a snow globe that has been turned upside-down. Much is getting turned upright again, but the snow is still swirling about me attempting to settle into new patterns and routines. I’m about to start a new job and move into a new home. As a result my everyday routines are now completely altered and upended.

What are your daily patterns and routines? Do you go to bed about the same time every night? Is your morning ritual consistent? Chances are your answer is “yes.” We humans tend to create then follow the same routines and rituals in many aspects of our lives. These routines and habits help us to meet our need for safety and security, the psychological component of the basic need for survival. And these habits allow our brain to go on automatic so we don’t have to spend a lot of focused energy making a thoughtful choice at every turn during our days.

For instance there are probably many more habits and routines in your life than you are even aware of. Ever take a class and discover that the same students sit in the same seats week after week? This same pattern is evident at church or temple services, company trainings, meeting and workshops, and other similar times and places where the same people gather in the same places on more than one occasion. Choosing the same seat without making any kind of a conscious thought about this decision is what most people do to feel safer and more secure.

You probably park in the same general area when you visit your usual grocery store. Both the store and the parking spot is a habit you developed that saves you time and energy. You probably travel the same route and roads to and from your job. It is very rare that you consult a map or choose a different route unless some new construction is slowing down your travel.

At the same time these habits and routines help you meet your need for safety and security, they can become tedious and monotonous. In fact the joy and delight of taking a vacation or trip is the opportunity for a great adventure. Now you must get out of your routines and habits. During these times you actually are more alert, awake and fully  present in your “now” because you have to be. You are taking new roads, choosing new seats in new restaurants and theaters. You can’t allow your mind to click into auto pilot. Since everything is new your full attention is required.

But having everything new for too long a period of time can become overwhelming and stressful. I am in this very spot now. I’m craving the mundane, routine and habitual. And I’m fully confident that a month from now I will have found the rhythm in my new job. It may take a bit longer to get unpacked and settled in my new home. But I trust my desire for safety and security will lead me to eventually create the home where I feel settled and safe.

If your Mental health & Happiness is not at a pleasing or satisfying level for you give one of these alternatives a try for improvement:

  • Create more regular routines and habits. Just as following the same patterns and rituals can help settle and calm a baby, the same can happen for you. It is routines, habits and regular patterns that can help meet your need for safety and security. Emphasize these habits now to see if that improves your feelings of safety and security leading to improved Mental Health & Happiness
  • Change your regular habits and routines. If you always travel the same route to and from work, go a different way. If you always shop at the same grocery store, visit the same library, regularly eat at your favorite restaurant, go in search of a new grocery store (perhaps of a different ethnicity) visit a local independently owned book store instead of your library, and go in search of one more restaurants to become your next favorite. Or go on vacation, someplace you have never been before! It may just be time to get out of your comfort zone, stretch your feelings of safety and security, expand your adventures to meet your need for fun and learning! See if this improves your level of satisfaction and Mental Health & Happiness.

Stress Management

Nancy S Buck, PhD, RN

Today there is much written and blamed on stress, stressors, and stress management.

angrywomanIs your health less than optimal? Perhaps too much stress is to blame? Are your relationships suffering? Could it be that you and your partner are both experiencing too much stress and stressors? Could this stress be interfering with the joyful expression of your love for one another? There are more than a few people who complain regularly about all of the present work stresses they must deal with.

There seems to be an equal amount of solutions being advertised to relieve the stress we each experience in our every day lives. You can sip a hot cup of herbal tea while sitting quietly in nature. Or you can indulge in the latest cocktail made from the finest liquor while enjoying the convivial company of friends. Or you can choose from any of the wide range of “medications” each advertised to bring the relief you seek from the diagnosed problem the ad teaches you is your problem. What all of these solutions have in common is their attempt to eliminate the feeling associated with stress but most do little to actually deal with stress.

What exactly is stress? Is it some unknown overhead cloud that follows some people around? Or perhaps stress is some internal knot that some people tie themselves into? Rather than reaching for the latest remedy advertised to obliterate the feelings of stress would you find it useful to actually understand where stress comes from?

Whenever there is a difference between what you want and what you perceive you are getting you experience stress.

With this understanding and definition, there are several solutions for eliminating stress:

1. Get more of what you want. If you can manage to change your perception of the world to match what you want then you will have eliminated stress. Of course this is easier said than done, but it is a successful stress management strategy.

2. Change what you want. When you accept and perceive that what you are presently getting matches what you want you will have eliminated stress.

3. Change your perception of the world. When you focus your attention on all that you are getting that matches what you want even though your present primary want may not be matching your world perception you will decrease your stress. This is the goal of attitude adjustment practices as well as cultivating gratitude — being grateful for what you do have.

4. Learn more effective behaviors and strategies to increase your chances of getting what you want thus eliminating stress.

And you can keep reading Mental Health & Happiness blogs. You can sign up for the free 21-day challenges to help you deal more effectively with feelings of stress. Both will help you learn and practice specific strategies to eliminate stress and improve your Mental Health & Happiness.