Does everyone remember that film starring Bill Murray? Where he plays a weatherman, Phil Connors, caught is some sort of time loop where he keeps reliving the same day? It feels like we’re all living Phil’s life lately.
Having lived with various anxiety disorders throughout my life, I tend to find comfort in some sort of regularity in schedule. And like many other people I often enjoy the sameness of things – that dish you always order at your favorite restaurant, your go-to YouTube channel when you’re procrastinating, even the hand with which you usually open a door.
These days, however, that repetition and uniformity have left the realm of comfort and become stressors unto themselves. The patterns of our days tend to remain very similar, and with little variety in our surroundings (home, park, grocery store), the days tend to meld into each other.
My brain starts to get obsessive when things become rote – if I’m not expending any energy reacting to new stimulus, it starts to get a bit impatient and looks for something to latch onto. That often sends me hurtling into a black hole of gloomy news or a spinning preoccupation with an uncertain future. Neither is healthy or helpful.
To break up the monotony I’ve become more aware of my tendency towards routine and am making more effort to break out of them, even in the very smallest of ways. Things as seemingly insignificant as sitting on the other side of the couch, or taking my coffee black instead of with my customary almond milk, spark my brain in tiny ways. More concrete novelty like trying a new running route or taking an online course on an unfamiliar topic or cooking a new dish engages my mind and forces it out of auto pilot.
Humans need stimulus for mental and physical health, and I’ve become acutely aware of that in these last few weeks.
What do you do to move you out of monotony? Have days started to melt into each other since the beginning of your time in quarantine?
My task today: taking my own advice, I wanted to switch up my running route and take Pinkerton in the opposite direction of your usual walk (done!)