Recovering from a Breakdown (4)
So far, we have looked at achieving small tasks as a means
of taking the first steps to recovery from emotional illness. Having
successfully achieved a routine of doing one or two activities each
day, where do we go to from there?
The Power of Lists
Making a list of the tasks to be accomplished each day is a tool that
the most successful business and academic leaders utilize to assist
them to become high-achievers. If these people need and use lists, that
tells us just how important lists are as we go about our own daily routine.
The lists we will be using to help us recover from breakdown are essentially
the same as the list a CEO might formulate for her day’s workload,
except that ours will be tailored to our specific needs.
One of the goals that we need to achieve when we are ill and vulnerable
is to build up our self esteem. A carefully drawn-up list can help us
to accomplish this. It is what actually goes on the list that is so
important to a person in recovery.
What to put on your list
- Always include a goal that is easily achieved, yet is of great benefit
to you. For example, in the very early days of recovery you might
include “making the bed”. The reason for placing this
on the list is that very early on in the course of the day, you will
have already achieved one of your daily goals. This will encourage
you to do more.
- Cross off items as you achieve them. Don’t make the mistake
of going through your list at the end of the day and crossing off
what you have done. Cross each item off as you achieve it. This will
give you a continual sense of achievement throughout the day, and
also encourage you to move onto the next goal.
- Don’t put too many items on your list. Be realistic about
the number of things you can do. Do not try to be perfect, or drive
yourself to do the number of tasks you could achieve if you were well.
Remember you are recovering, and as such are on “light duties”.
Five or six tasks are plenty at this stage.
- Draw up your list when you go to bed at night. By making your list
up before you go to sleep, your brain will subconsciously accept that
you have a purpose for the day ahead. Having a purpose means that
you will reduce the likelihood of feeling a sense of “nothingness”
about your life and your achievements. You will have a direction for
the coming day— a sort of “mental health road map”.
- Feel good about those items on your list that you have managed to
achieve at the end of the day. Transfer any items that were not accomplished
onto your list for tomorrow. Remember, a list is just a list. Nothing
more. Praise yourself for all the crossed off items, don’t make
too much of the unmarked ones. Just resolve to do them tomorrow. As
Scarlett O’Hara said: “Tomorrow is another day!”
- Sometimes there may be items that never seem to get done, and keep
getting put on the next day’s list forever. Take a careful look
at these items. Perhaps they are too big a task for you at the moment.
Perhaps they could be achieved if you had sufficient help. Look at
what you need to do in order to achieve this particular task. By breaking
it down into smaller, achievable goals, just as you did when you were
starting out your program to recovery, you will make ensure a successful
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