By Mahatma Gandhi, “Keep your behavior positive because your behavior becomes your habits.” Habits, what is its relevance with wellness?
I was advised to draw out a schedule and follow through it faithfully. And practicing Gandhi’s saying, I make sure my behaviors are positive, first to ward off Bipolar-depression, next to keep to my schedule. In my case, cultivating positive behaviors with a schedule in place is challengingly difficult especially when I was in the midst of depression.
As said schedules would lessened the likelihood of a Bipolar relapse. Time, which everyone has, is a fixed component of a schedule. It is like we have three meals a day breakfast in the morning, lunch at noon, and dinner in the late evening. Human beings plan their behaviors along the time-line to get things done. So I go to work from 9am to 5pm on a daily basis, I do my grocery shopping on a weekly basis and I visit my dentist once every year, are plans I made. Ideally, with schedules, positive behaviors becoming good habits, should be able to counter my depression.
More often than usual, I observed I could not follow through the schedule. The list of tasks planned to be done in certain blocks of time would be interrupted, at worst disrupted. Unable to complete whatever that was scheduled, could turn on the tap of my anxiety, or discourage further my already depressed mode to a state of inertia. Schedules seem not to sit well on me, yet I need them as it is a helpful tool to fully optimize it. Time efficiently used is a form of well-being.
I was delighted to enjoy a shift in perspective from drawing up a schedule to cultivating habits. They work hand-in-hand for my sanity and effectiveness. More often than not, schedules do go awry and habits do not, however they are different concepts in cultivating wellness.
My job scope includes taking care of the plants and keeping the garden neat (at least no falling leaves). Should I schedule it before breakfast, I would find myself skipping it to breakfast directly. How about after food, the likelihood of getting it done seems higher but not foolproof. I always find the garden strewn with falling leaves at the end of a day. That upsets me as I have not followed my plan nor honored my promise to be a good worker. Schedule is apparently not working to my advantage.
Should I change my approach and schedule a time allotment of 30-45 minutes, I am to do the garden tasks on a daily basis. There’s no fixed time to do it. I can choose when to do, as long as I complete it before I knock off for the day. Here I have a daily schedule that develops a habit, not bound by time but aided with flexibility. What I find it attractive is I have begun to enjoy the work – taking care of the garden. My motivation to water plants is not out of sympathy (Oh these plants, poor souls, they’re unable to move to reach out for water). I am more proactive in caring for them, removing fallen leaves in the pot (that block off sunlight and hinder the soil from breathing), removing weeds or creepers to prevent them from encroaching the plants.
This change in perspective smooths out the rough edges of Bipolar disorder. It has empowered me, given me opportunities to enjoy being, as a living person with an illness， meeting my goals on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. As time unfolds, I get to focus on the task, not about having to do this by 12 noon nor get the report out in an hours time. Schedules are there to give us a framework of how time need to be spent while cultivating habits gives me confidence, freedom, a sense of well-being.