Why a schedule is important

“Schedule?” You ask. “It can’t be that simple.” I’m not talking about just any old schedule. And I’m not talking about the schedule you think you’re already on. How would you answer the following questions:

  • -Is my day driven by the most urgent thing that comes into my mind? 
  • -Is my day driven by the most pressing thing that presents itself at my job? 
  • -Do I find myself rushing through task after task all day long only to feel a sense of despair at the end of the day?

That breathless careening dash through life is a direct result of trauma laid down in the early years of childhood. We were forced to be on alert in order to survive. We had to learn to “read the emotional temperature of the room.” We had to hurry, hurry, hurry always waiting for the other shoe to drop because we learned through experience that it always would. ALWAYS. 

It doesn’t matter where you are in your journey. Whether you are holding down a job or whether you are in a pit of non-functioning depression, these concepts of life management can be used as a part of your healing repertoire. A neuromuscular disease has taken my career, but I need these concepts now just as much as I ever did. You too, can learn new skills that will help you step out of the driven nature of trauma, let your guard down, and feel…well…normal. That sounds like a cool drink of water on a hot day, doesn’t it?

I want to start with a framework called a schedule. My five-year-old granddaughter enjoys driving my car. Sitting on my lap, she takes the wheel and goes higgledy-piggledy down the road. She’s only allowed to do this late at night when there are no cars in my quiet neighborhood. Completely ignorant of any rules, my granddaughter follows whatever idea comes into her head. There is no framework to her driving—no rhythm or understanding. She’s at the wheel, but in a way, the car is in charge. Was I to let her loose during the day, the consequences don’t bear repeating. 

This is the same way a trauma survivor automatically goes through life. We’re at the wheel, but trauma is the one who is really in charge. There is no framework or rhythm to anything we do. 

A framework gives you something to hold onto when things are going well and is needed even more when they aren’t. It brings purpose and accomplishment and gives you a rhythm and rhythm is what we are after. Why? Because trauma survivors are so out of rhythm. 

Be flexible—interruptions are inevitable. But when you feel yourself getting overwhelmed, it’s time to grab onto the framework.

What kind of schedule do I need?

We start with four basic daily components. Where you place these components is up to you.

What are the essential components of a schedule?

1) Mealtimes: Breakfast, lunch, and dinner. You might think that sounds ridiculous. I’ve never met a survivor including myself who didn’t wage war on their body through eating. Skipping meals, starving yourself, compulsively overeating, and using food as a drug name a few. I don’t want you to start a diet or try to attack deep-seated eating issues. All I want you to do is eat a regular meal at regular times during the day. That’s all. 

2) Productive work  This component happens twice a day in the morning hours separated by lunch and then again in the afternoon. Productive work can include the time spent at your job, but it can also mean rest. It can be time spent building relationships, making a craft, or taking a nap. The important thing to remember is that it is productive and intentional. You are driving the car—not trauma. 

3) Meditation You may have heard the word meditation mentioned many times, but either never understood it, or never took the time to try it. Perhaps you tried it a for a while and didn’t see any results. I’d like to ask you to be open to meditation and what it might mean for you. It needs to be time set aside for some kind of quiet. Perhaps you use traditional meditation techniques or you contemplate the beauty of nature. Maybe you like to journal or maybe your meditation time means prayer. Whichever way you go about it, the point is to include a chunk of time set aside for your soul to breathe every single day. There is no better way to rewire the neural pathways garbled by trauma than the practice of some type of meditation. It is so important, it will be the topic of blog #3 in this life management series.  

4) Exercise Trauma survivors need the release that only exercise can provide—thirty minutes, three times a week is the goal. Nothing helps regulate dysregulated emotions better than brisk exercise. This is mind/body work on steroids. It can be anything from trauma-informed yoga (check out Hannah Uiri on YouTube) to swimming to walking. It doesn’t matter as long as it is brisk, something you enjoy, and something you do on a regular basis.

Two Samples of a Life Management schedule

Breakfast                 Meditation

Meditation                Breakfast

Productive activity    Work (a productive activity)

Lunch                        Lunch

Rest                           Work (a productive activity)

Exercise                     Exercise

Meditation                   Dinner

Dinner

By moving the four components around, they will fit into anyone’s schedule. Some people incorporate a meditation element twice a day. Some like it better in the morning, others at night. The same is true of exercise. Set your schedule in whatever way works best for you. Defy trauma and embrace joy by using the framework of a schedule every day. The rewards you will reap will be beyond anything you ever imagined possible. This is the second in a series of four blogs about Life Management. To receive exclusive content including printable downloads sign up for my weekly newsletter at:https://authorrebekahbrown.com/ 

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