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A woman with gray hair and heels holds an oversized pencil and draws a schedule on a large spiral planner. The planner page includes doodles of weather, food, hydration, medication, sleep, and more

Finding Balance in Your "New Normal" with a Routine

I am not logging on all cylinders. My smooth running state has temporarily been lost. I am pushing and struggling.

Quite basically, I have lost my “groove.” Almost literally! I have been bounced out of my rut and things are not good!

The stability of routine

Holidays and special events and lousy weather have all been messing with my schedule. That is a problem. Except in those times I suffer with acute wanderlust, I love my schedule. It keeps me from having to make too many decisions. What am I doing today? I am going to do what I always do on that day of the week. My schedule is my structure. I get a sense of stability and consistency from it. It - generally - gives me a sense of flow and continuity in my life.

My schedule also keeps me physically and emotionally healthy. It is a lot easier to watch my “vulnerability factors” when I am on my schedule.

What are vulnerability factors?

Vulnerability factors in Dialectical Behavior Therapy are those physical body things that totally mess up your general well-being when you don’t take care of them. Not being in my routine messes with many of the vulnerability factors.

Missing my exercise is my big vulnerability factor

The big one this past week has been exercise. I had a Saturday training and I missed Zumba. There was a hard cold rain and I missed a dog walk.

Those can happen to anyone but when you are visually impaired you are also at the mercy of fate as it affects the lives of all those kind, wonderful people who help you. Illness or a child’s school event for your driver often means no exercise class for you.

Inadequate sleep

Since everything truly is related in a body, my lack of exercise also affects my sleep. I do not need to tell you all of the things inadequate sleep can mess with. If you want to see me grouchy and inattentive, make me sleep-deprived.

Snacking when out of routine

Getting out of my schedule makes me a prime candidate for snacking. And who really wants to eat a balanced meal after absent-mindedly eating half a bag of chips? That is a family-sized bag by the way.

What are the vulnerability factors?

The vulnerability factors include physical illness, eating, (avoiding) mood-alternating substances, sleep, and exercise. If you want to remember them remember PLEASE. If you take care of your vulnerability factors, you can stay balanced in your life much better than if you do not take care of them. As I said, not taking care of your vulnerability factors is a good way to become physically and emotionally ill.

Estabilishing a "new normal" routine

As you put together your “new normal” as a visually impaired person, you might want to think about establishing a schedule and routine. Having structure is important. You also might want to think about what you will do when that schedule and routine are interrupted. Remember that having to depend upon people for things such as rides means you are also subject to changes in their lives as well. Better to be prepared.

A break in routine

Also, it is good to be aware when schedule changes lead to challenges to one or more of your vulnerability factors. Erratic eating, sleeping, exercise? Your physical and mental health may be more challenged than you may believe. Take measures to restore your balance. Salvage what you can of your schedule and routine.

Compensating for vulnerability factors

Tonight was dark and blustery and cold. I put on ski pants and a heavy jacket and walked the dogs for a mile and a half. I am notorious for forgetting to eat my veggies but tonight I had peas. I also opened a jar of applesauce so I could have a fruit. I have been trying to compensate for the breakdown of my routine and subsequent challenges to my vulnerability factors.

Structure and routine are important but being dependent upon others mean that structure and routine can breakdown. What will you d to stay in your groove?

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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