Good Mondays – Routine

Hi guys. Today I want to celebrate a small thing called a daily routine. Or just routines in general. I never appreciated how much a set schedule meant until this past year when everything went sideways. A lot of the normal things I took for granted disappeared, and I didn’t realize how much that had actually impacted my psyche until my psyche was way out of sync. Whether it’s skincare, work schedule, or just something slotted to do over the weekend, the fact that I no longer have a routine to follow really mattered. To be truthful I’m still very much struggling to get myself back on track. With my city opening up and my s.o. getting back to steady work, my weekend plans slowly began to solidify once more. So there’s at least one thing that’s righting itself.

I have been noticing on my most productive days I tend to have just the right number of chores and work lined up so I keep myself motivated without overwhelming myself. However, to get that happening I usually need some planning, and if I slack off on that I literally don’t get anything done. It’s like my brain just shuts off after certain hours, and to overcome that I need to “train” it to not shut off, which requires time, practice, and a lot of patience. Sounds like establishing a new routine, huh? You have to do something at this time every single day, and eventually it’ll be an easy habit. Or so they say. In practice I climb on and fall off the wagon in a forever cycle. The best I can hope for is the number of days I’m on the wagon outnumber the ones off.

So I salute to the routine, because it’s probably going to be the one thing that for sure keeps me moving (the other is adamantly NOT check reddit until after all work is done). You need small wins interspersed with long hauls, otherwise you’d eventually wear out. Even if small wins mean “I did laundry today” or “I sent out an email”, they still count!


One Step at a Time, and Skincare

So I just want to say I’ve spent most of January basically honing my work/life routine. I know people always say keep a routine, and I’ve never liked that idea, but now, a year into the global pandemic, I realized how much routine is necessary in times of great stress and copious unstructured time. I didn’t think about how my husband going to work, coming back from work, eating out, grocery shopping on weekends, and a slew of other chores kind of naturally formed a loose routine before. I had a concrete starting and stopping time for work: when my husband leaves I work, and when he comes back I stop. Now he’s WFH and it’s so sporadic when he’ll be busy in a meeting or when he’s slacking off, it’s throwing off my rhythm too. My routine just went completely whack over the past year, which was both bad for my productivity and for all the other things in life, like washing my face/put on sunscreen even if it’s cloudy, you know, self-care things. (The IVF surgery/pregnancy/miscarriage hoopla did not help matters, but that’s a different story.)

I decided as part of my new year resolution was to get myself back on a functioning adult track. Which basically meant I started to rigidly follow a schedule of what I’m going to do at specific time of day. In hand-written form, mind you, because I found that writing down checklists with a pen is somehow magically more motivating than typing it out on screen. I bought myself the Hobonichi Techo (which I LOVE. 100%. It’s been so, so helpful with my work), started a random journal and forced myself to record down every thing I’ve done each day, and bought an actual timer (like, the kind you use in the kitchen – it’s cute!) so I don’t stray off course. A bit excessive, I admit, but apparently that’s what it takes to whip myself into shape. Now I’m a month in and have more or less established things, or at least have concrete goals and can see when and why I’ve slipped up (mostly because I kept on getting distracted online, so I installed a web blocker and diligently used it.) You know I’ve always thought writing creatively as a career for me is like an alcoholic trying to stay sober. You have to do baby steps at first and then keep it up every day. You might slip up once in a while, but the goal is to get back on track, hopefully faster every time you failed.

In addition, I’ve also found out that keeping a routine is inadvertently helping out my skin! I’ve developed seborrhoeic dermatitis a couple of years ago (thank you California drought weather!) and have been trying to keep it in check ever since. I’ve been using prescription steroid creams and they do clear it up, however, it always come back after 10 days or so. I don’t want to keep on putting steroid on my face indefintiely, so I’ve been trying all kinds of other creams and serums and etc. to see if I can manage it without medication. Well, turns out that if I consistently keep a skincare routine it gets better. Right now I have minimal redness and peeling, and I’ve honed down what kind of moisturizer works best for me and what kind of ingredients are huge no-nos (alcohol, mainly, and maybe niacinamide, which is a shame because it’s a great ingredient, just not for me). I’m still trying out things but the combo is working well, and I’m super stoked about that. Keeping a routine on my work made me also commit a routine on my health. Who’d have thought?

Now if only I can apply the same to flossing. (Need to go to a dentist, but am waiting for after I get the Covid vaccine, which might not happen until June. Ugh.)


Back to Normal

I slept for a full 10 hours yesterday. Granted I went to bed super late, as I have been for the past week because of stupid reasons, but I woke up today at almost noon and felt more rested than I’ve had for a long, long time. Note to self: stop keeping crazy, inconsistent sleep schedules. This is what happens when your body gets confused and therefore, needs much more rest than you realize.

I’ve also washed my face, used a face mask at night, and painted my nails. Why is this significant? Well, considering I haven’t done any of these things for the past, oh, 8 weeks at least? Probably longer than that, really, and yes, it does sound absolutely disgusting that I haven’t washed my face for more than 2 months. It’s not that bad, though, in that I still showered and I still splashed my face with water, just not with the full routine (you know the crazy 11-step thing Korean beauties do? I don’t have to that extreme but there’s at least 6 or 7 steps in mine). And with nail polish I absolutely could use them while pregnant. All of my stash are at least 5-free, so there are no iffy chemicals that may or may not have some effect on pregnancy (the verdict is still out on that one, but better be as safe as possible). Anyway, the reason I haven’t done any of that is simple: stress. I’ve been stressed about everything involving my pregnancy that I basically fell into a mini-depression when it comes to some areas of my life. They say that estrogen might contribute to depression, add on the miscarriage and all the IVF problems (not to mention Covid), yeah I barely had energy to get out of bed, let alone doing extra things like painting my nails.

But that’s all behind me now. Mostly. (Not Covid, but, well, the earliest we can expect a difference I suppose is January 2021). I feel hormonally normal. I painted my nails for the first time with a new color last night (just because I wasn’t painting doesn’t mean I wasn’t buying polishes) – a Halloween themed Frankenstein green. My nails are super short because I pick at them when I’m stressed, and I’ve been neglecting moisturizing so they break off all the damn time. I’ve always enjoyed the process of painting my nails, just like I enjoyed the process of going through all the steps of washing/moisturizing my face before bedtime. I did that for the first time last night, too, and you know, it just makes me feel so normal for the first time in ages. I didn’t even realize I’ve stopped doing things I liked until I resumed doing them and realized I missed them. It’s progress, and I’m glad I’ve moved on emotionally enough to have non-crackly skin and an ugly-pretty color on my short stubby nails again.

I will try to go to bed at a reasonable hour tonight, and start exercising properly again. And work, god, the amount of work piling up is getting out of hand. I am a functioning adult once more, and you know, it really makes me wonder about my miscarriage as a blessing in disguise. At least until I start the whole pregnancy thing again, and I’m hoping next time I’d have enough experience that I am prepared for anything.