Top Skills Thursday: Using Lists

I think everyone can agree, the idea of “normal life” has been shoved out the door for a hot minute. In the wake of that, I know myself and many others are struggling to adapt and find a “new normal.” It’s hard though, because all the routines are missing.

When I am left without those predicable patterns to let me know what time it is, or what I need to do in a day, I kind of go nuts and want to do anything and everything I can imagine. The reality of the current day is that I have 10 spoons normally and right now about 8 of them are used up in making sure my housemate and I stay safe and healthy, trying to maintain friendships and family relationships, and keeping myself from giving in to the urge to lay in bed and cry all day. Trying to do things, even thinking about what I need to do in a day to take care of myself, is difficult with two spoons!

To combat the sense of being overwhelmed, I’ve dusted off an old DBT skill and made up some lists.

The first list is what my daily routines looked like before things changed. It’s simple, but detailed. Here’s the morning for my days off.

  • Drink water
  • Take meds
  • Make coffee
  • Walk dog
  • Feed animals
  • Shower
  • Write
  • Lunch at 1:30

Why does it have things listed so simply? To leave me with one thing to do – check my list. The entire day is done this way. Meals get a time stamp, everything else is in the list and all I’m doing is making sure I do the things. Some days it’s make coffee, drink water.  Some days it’s feed animals, have coffee, walk dog. The order of events isn’t necessarily important, but looking back at the end of the day and seeing that I have accomplished daily life is.

Lists can also help with other aspects of life. You can make a list that gives some favorite self-soothing techniques so when an anxiety attack comes on, you can just look at the list instead of trying to think what to do. A list of people to stay in touch with is also useful right now, when we’re all separated. Maintaining relationships is important, and being remembered feels good.

What other ways have you found to help you with taking care of yourself in these strange times?




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