Believe in nothing, no matter who says it, even if I say it, if it does not agree with your own experience and your own common sense ~ Buddha

I was up half the night with a family crisis, but in spite of myself, I didn’t turn that alarm back. I reasoned that my going along with my nascent routine would actually make me feel better than the extra sleep.

Routines keep you sane. There is nothing more crazy-making than being turned in a hundred directions, assailed by a thousand pleas, and no way to say, “No, this is the way it has to be.” What are you, a toddler that needs their nap? Precisely. A routine is a place of serenity in your life, patterned and precise, where things that are important already have their place. If you abandon that in an hour of stress, you are well and truly shipwrecked. Either your routine was too full of useless enterprises or you need to practice saying no.

Routines keep you productive. In spite of how it may seem, both to you and to others, the world is not coming to an end. Animals and people still need to be fed, bills still need to be paid, and though you can schedule in the demands of hand-holding and otherwise dealing with crisis, you also need to be true to your own needs. Your routine is not negotiable in the sense that other people can tell you  “you don’t have to do that right now.” Your routine is important in the same way that daily personal hygiene is important—it may not be vital to personal survival, but it is still important to your place in society. Plus, you’ll be surprised about how quickly you can complete your responsibilities in a pinch. And that will make you feel good.

When all else fails, compromise. It’s not the first day of the crisis, it’s the seventh. Your personal reserves are starting to run low. It’s ok if you’re not still getting up at 5am to run 10k. But don’t give up on yourself so easily. So what if it isn’t life or death—it’s important to you. And what’s more doing even a part of it pays dividends, not only in personal satisfaction, but in personal pleasure. Even if you get up at say seven and just jog a mile, you get the endorphin buzz, you stay at least a bit in condition, and you deal with stress in a healthy way.

Be gentle to yourself. You might not be up to working on your magnum opus. Maybe you are, but you’re frustrated by the way your personal issues keep coming up in the art. It’s ok. Work on something inconsequential, if you don’t want to have to redo things when you’re on an even keel, or simply do some journaling before you start (a great way to lay to rest your tribulations and worries before you try to create.)

Bottom line: You need your routine, not only to make sure your personal needs are met, but to make sure that the needs of your household and your life in general have been adequately addressed.

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