How is your day structured? Do you wake up confused about what to do first? Or do you wake up knowing exactly how your day is planned out? Sometimes this is decided for you by the demands of a job. You know how your day will go, becuse it is all determined for you. But sometimes you have a choice, and in this case, it is worth spending some time generating awareness of how you design your day.
Perhaps you’d like to consider how all your activities might divide into four categories, based on who wants them done. You can ask yourself: ‘If I don’t do this activity, what is the consequence, and for whom?’ The four categories are:
- Activities which help both you and others
- Activities which only help others
- Activities which only help you
- Activities which help no one
This kind of thinking can help you to prioritise.
ACTIVITIES WHICH HELP BOTH YOU AND OTHERS
Communal activities of one sort or another are possibly the most mentally healthy to keep in your daily agenda. For example, a healthy activity shared with others, such as a walk or some exercise, relieves you of the burden of alone-ness, and brings you the huge benefits of attending to someone else for a while. Anxiety and depression can thrive on isolation, and common activities are known to be highly protective against them.
ACTIVITIES WHICH ONLY HELP OTHERS
While helping others does provide big mental health benefits (e.g. diversion of attention, social interaction, stimulation of less stressful inner chemical paths), it also brings dangers. Where you are helping others directly, you are using up your own inner battery, and are likely, at some point, to run out of energy. WIthout self-care, other-focused activity can end up damaging.
ACTIVITIES WHICH ONLY HELP YOU
You are a unique person, and you will know what kinds of activity enhance your personal sense of wellbeing or fulfilment. Sometimes you will have to clear the outside world away, and say no to other people, to regenerate your health and energy. If you have a book to write, or individual meditation to do, or a personal health program to follow, then you had better get used to managing other people so that they don’t dominate too much.
ACTIVITIES WHICH HELP NO ONE
You will notice that, at times, you indulge in activities which are essentially destructive. You may have a drug habit such as drinking alcohol or smoking, which, in the medium to long term, hurts your own body, and pulls you away from constructive contact with others. In the short term these can be socialising activities, and they may therefore be easy to justify in a lazy kind of way. ‘I can’t disappoint my friends’, you might say, as you prepare for another night on the town getting drunk. But you may know that, in the end, they are pointless, and stop you being constructive.
Design your day with a view to achieving the right balance. Try to focus mostly on activities with mutual benefit for both you and others. These socialise you, and keep you in touch with a healthy lifestyle. If you also focus on activities purely for others, then try to balance this with some activities which are just for your own self-care. Finally, try, over time, to cut out those activities which you suspect have no long term benefits for anyone.