In my opinion, one of the most important things that a person can have is a structured routine. Routines and hobbies allow us to inject goals into our daily life and achieve stability. However, stability is one of the many things that depression and anxiety quickly dismantle. With low motivation, fatigue, and a fear social interaction, we stop routines, abandon hobbies, and live our lives around depression and anxiety.
In my last blog, I wrote about how running helped my anxiety. What I didn’t share was the depth of my struggle with anxiety- induced insomnia. I had insomnia for about a year and I was truly miserable. I would lay awake in bed and toss and turn for hours with no relief. Knowing that my anxiety was causing my insomnia, I had anxiety about my anxiety and no matter how much melatonin I took, I could not sleep more than 2-3 hours a night—if that.
As a result, I was always extremely exhausted. I felt catatonic and cried every day. I was frustrated with my body and couldn’t understand why I couldn’t do something as basic and fundamental to my health as sleeping. Soon I stopped going to soccer practices because I didn’t have the energy. I stopped going to get-togethers because socializing felt arduous. I stopped living MY life. I just existed and went through the motions until I could lay down and try to sleep again, only to begin the cycle of frustration and disappointment yet again.
Eventually I realized that I was feeding into my illness; isolating myself and giving up on my hobbies was the worst thing I could do for my mental health. I recognized that the best thing to do was to continue doing the things that I enjoyed, even if I had to use every last ounce of energy to do so because suffering alone is far worse than suffering with a community.
Even though I had little energy, I also took the time to find new hobbies that might help with my condition. I added meditation and breathing exercises into my daily routine and learned to empty my mind and find peace with my body while taking into account this quote by Amit Ray; “if you want to conquer the anxiety of life, live in the moment, live in the breath.”
Now that I work at Achieve TMS, I see this same miracle repeated over and over again. Patients who had felt hopeless and debilitated by depression or anxiety find solace, stability, and a community once they discover a hobby and establish a routine. I watch as each day becomes a little easier and more rewarding for the patients who put the effort into going out into the world and doing what they enjoy.
So, take a hobby you love and make it part of your daily/weekly routine. Join an adult sports team, volunteer with an organization you’re passionate about, take up photography, whatever it may be. Get involved, stay involved, and experience the benefits for yourself!