I’ve struggled with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder my whole life, the severity waxing and waning as life stuff happens. It’s a not-uncommon disorder, especially in the modern West, where slowing down and giving oneself a break is not yet popular. I don’t have the hand-washing, or oven-checking varieties, although I’ve worked with many patients who did. It’s a challenging disorder to treat; it takes thought-rewiring and lots of practice.
My OCD routine has been about perfectionistic house cleaning, and task completion. Although I’ve been mostly retired for four years, OCD can still interfere with my joy. I never loll around in bed in the morning, although I could! (I often take an afternoon rest, but only after Tasks are Completed). I don’t take my first coffee with a favorite novel, to ease into the day, although I could.
I roll out of bed like any normal 60-something person, then tend to the morning drill: splash face, apply anti-hairloss goop, take my vitamins, and air out the bed. So far, pretty normal. Then I make coffee and plop in front of the Mac, not to browse the comics like my husband does, but to jump into unfinished business. The low-level anxiety buzzes in my head, until I’ve “accomplished” something. How exhausting!
I’m changing my morning routines, to add the zen, and to practice some of the techniques I used to exhort my patients to try.
I now remind myself to take deep breaths, and look out on the Atlantic Ocean, different every day. I tell myself that almost nothing I do or don’t do today will change the world. I can relax and enjoy the beauty. I think one of the reasons we are here at all is to appreciate the beauty.
I’ve also cut down on my blogging schedule, and I post to Instagram only twice a week. I don’t check my phone until after breakfast. These changes help diminish my first-thing-in-the-morning “gotta get this done” mentality.
I have a new favorite morning quote, from a good article about morning routines:
“ . . . frankly, the thought of reducing my existence to output is thoroughly depressing.”
I’ve simplified my makeup to eyes and lips only, letting my face go bare except for sunscreen. It feels wonderful.
Some other habits I’ve changed: I drink less alcohol – maybe one small glass of wine every other day. That makes me feel healthier and calmer. Your mileage may vary, and I have no judgment about your drinking or lack thereof, only my own. I’ve simplified my household routines by using my Roomba vacuum cleaner. I have not hand vacuumed in a month, and the house seems as clean as ever.
I’d love to know: do you have a morning routine? Do you feel pressured to “get going” or do you let the morning wash over you?
Let your dreams lead you, and stay fabulous, xo,
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What a fascinating read! I can relate, I don’t think I am OCD, but I am task driven and methodical. I have perfectionist tendencies as well, but think I am reasonably balanced and I like housework and routine.
You look gorgeous without make up. My make up routine is also very simple. I just used a tinted sunscreen every day and add lipgloss. Eyelash extensions save me time overall. You might like a tinted sunscreen, You have to wear sunscreen anyway?
Yes to kicking back and reading a wonderful novel. Yes to allowing ourselves that and more.
Maybe OCD is on the rise because it is functional in a faced past society?
Happy new week!
Gosh, you are just like me. I will say that more birthdays have afforded me the wisdom to look at life differently. Heck, I don’t even set an alarm anymore. But I do feel the need to be productive at times. It’s ingrained, so certainly not easy to change, is it??
As for cleaning the house, I’ve definitely given that the boot. For some reason, I will tackle it so sporadically. And that works for me. Luckily my hubby is good about helping too!
I like the quote you included about boiling one’s life down to “output”. That resonates with me. As far as mornings go, I like to “get moving” mainly b/c I’m a morning person and my energy is the highest.
Good for you, that you know yourself, and what kind of routine suits you best. Thanks for coming over, Kim. xox
I find this post and the comments so insightful and comforting. I wonder whether this compulsion for ‘perfection on display’ comes from the same miserable place as the ‘now be a good girl scenario.’
I’m finding that as I repeat some of these internally/externally imposed patterns, for no reason whatsoever as I age, I have had to stop and say ‘Whoa…what’s going on here?’
I’ve taken a hard look at many established messages and habits (whether it’s housework, appearance, relationships, advice-giving, etc) and more than ever, realize the finite nature of life on this earth and the energy remaining to live it. Perhaps this is a spiritually developmental process. Perhaps this is as it should be.
While my youngest daughter yells at me “You’re OCD” as I run around her kitchen straightening things and returning things their places for her as she relaxes on the sofa, my youngest son has a kinder more objective way of characterizing things. His wise assessment is something he calls Completion Bias. Completion Bias at least seems like a gentle way of naming a positive quality.
I believe the trick is to ponder how many and which ‘things’ are worth starting in the first place before we run amok with have-to’s:)
wonderful comments, Ellie. I like the term “completion bias”, but as you said, we have to choose which things are worth completing! Thanks for coming by and sharing. xox
Thank you for providing such good food for contemplation Patti. My husband is convinced that he has OCD leanings and he is often demanding as well as tense. I’m more into aesthetics than order. I do like to create a “put together persona” and feelings of not measuring up can be bring on anxiety and stress. We invite people and entertain when we her deep cleaning motivation but I like an orderly facade so I pick up frequently.
My morning routine is coffee and reading blogs and other online news and information, window shopping and entertainment. I LOVE looking at our mountain view and feeding the birds. Gardening and craft, DIY are escapes for me.
your morning routine sounds lovely – feeding the birds is peaceful. And gardening – i miss our cottage with its messy gardens! xox
I think that I must have the same syndrome. They other day I think I worked for about 8 hours. I am 68. This is rediculous I have made a resolution to really slow down from January onwards. One of my favourate blogger posted about Time Remaining TR so true I use this often in my decision making and it really help. Also I meditate for 20 mins each morning before I do anything else.
The meditation and the TR reminder sounds like wonderful ways to ease stress! Thanks for coming by and commenting, xox.
So far, I’m one of the few commenters who is still working a full-time job so there are no “lazy mornings” for me during the week. Every morning is a rush to get showered, dressed, me and the cat fed and get out the door in time to catch the bus. I am hoping some day to be able to sit with a cup of tea and the NYTimes online.
I’m hoping for that for you, too, Shelley! xox
I’m learning to embrace my own ‘laziness’ as a positive quality. I’ve been feeling guilty for not doing more and more tasks all my life, even if they were self-imposed tasks!. I think that many os us were educated to seriousness and self-demandingness, which are good qualities for business and career, but not so good for our own happiness and mental health. Having more fun is my objective nowadays, lots of fun and laughs. Nobody is going to remember me as the lady who had the cleaner house ever. Nope.
besos & alegría
wonderful words to wake up to, Sra. A.! Thanks for this reminder, xox.
I have OCD and so does my new partner
We find we share the jobs we like and each do our own…it works for us…so does slowing down now I’m divorced have no longer a family to raise and a house to ‘run’
OCD anxiety and depression..him bipolar
So life is mellowing and I try to enjoy more simpler stuff…reading ..a swim
Crafts…enjoy the little things
yes, so much happiness comes from the little things. Thanks for writing! xox
I loved reading this post. Life has been a little hectic for my other half and myself lately. We are both looking forward to the pace slowing down. Changing the routine is definitely the solution. The idea of curling up on the sofa in the mornings, with a coffee and book is my aim!
Yes, let’s aim for that, Alison! xox
I have given myself permission to not be so over the top. I was raised to always look good when I go out, house spotless, attention to every little detail but guess what-no one cares!!!!! It is very liberating to focus on what brings me/my family joy and they are happy I am not so intense/worrying about every little thing. Life is good-enjoy it.
that is the big “secret” – that no one notices except us! xox
I am 56 yrs. old. i do exactly what I want and when I want. I pursue the business of happiness and joy diligently. It didnot come easily. I fought for it. I will not surrender my peace and calm for anything.
I understand your issues. You are in your 60s. How long do you want to continue to be stressed out / anxious about cleaning house, doing your face, following a strict routine? People wait for retirement to enjoy life and be stress free.
Think of how much time is left… do you want o spend it cleaning the house (all day?), cleaning shoes, cleaning the fridge, painting the nails????? rather than taking a leisurely stroll on the beach, enjoying an afternoon with a girl friend, not look in the mirror for a whole day, walking through a flea market without buying anything, cooking something you love and eating, picking up your guitar / sketch book / paints / book of songs / a book or whatever that gets you engrossed and brings a smile to your face?
My famous question is “what are you waiting for?”
Ditto!!!! Who needs all that stress!! So what if it is noon and I am still in my robe reading? The world is still revolving!
well said, Sana and JC. Thanks for your feedback. xox
When my kid was little, I would get up early and work out. I always exercised, often in the morning if my schedule permitted (not when I was on the 5 a.m. shift though). I was very dedicated to it. Now my kid takes the bus and leaves fairly early. Even though my kid needs no help from me, there’s an occasional “MOM!” cry for help–where are my other jeans, etc. So I lie on the sofa and scroll through emails and news until kid is out the door. Then I might scroll through the news a while longer, whereas back in the day, I would read the newspapers while pedaling on an exercise bike. I really need to get back into that and have no idea why it’s so hard after having done it for so many decades.
As for cleaning, I like things clean but I refuse to be the only one cleaning. So it becomes a test of wills, especially since I work (telecommuting from home) but my husband doesn’t. Will he clean the pan he used? All I know is I won’t.
Anyway, nobody ever said on their deathbed, “I wish I had cleaned the house better.” There’s a difference between output and accomplishment. Output is busy work that eats up our time. Accomplishment is deeply satisfying and its worth should be judged by how much you love it, not by how much other people do.
I love the way you delineated “output” vs. “achievement” – there is a world of difference, eh? Thanks for your thoughtful remarks, xox.
I would never lie on the couch, scrolling through my computer, while my child of any age is starting their day, getting ready for school. I wouldn’t hover, but I would be completely available…perhaps while drinking my tea, etc. The reason I say this is because my Mom was always on the couch watching television as she waved us off distractedly. When we came home, there she was watching TV..her soaps she was addicted to.. I think she was depressed. The message that was sent to us, intended or not, was that she wasn’t interested in us and that she wanted us out of the house. I always made it a practice to be PRESENT and available to my kids at times I feel it validated their importance to me.
I probably didn’t state this very well. My mother has been deceased nearly ten years.
Yet, your description of lying on the couch on your computer while your child is getting ready to for school triggered something that really hurt.
To be honest, I have always worried that I am “lazy.” I absolutely love to ease into the morning and relish the opportunity to savor a cup of coffee with my husband sleeping next to me and my beloved kitty nearby. I think about what I hope to accomplish during the day and I try to balance my emotions regarding whatever is going on in the world. That being said, I don’t always accomplish as much as I intend, my house could be cleaner and sometimes I have to give myself a kick in the butt to get things done. Still, I think in the long run that I accomplish more and feel better by letting myself try to find my own “flow.” Now if only I could retire and get rid of my pesky job that keeps interfering (wink, wink).
I agree with Suzanne that we are our own worse enemies and I am glad you are giving yourself a break. Your “OCD” has made you extremely accomplished and I admire what you have done.
thanks for your thoughtful comment, Deborah, and your kind words. Time with kitty is never wasted! xox
I also have the impulse to begin checking things off my to-do list daily ASAP.
Like you I like to get up early to get started otherwise I feel lazy. This has changed since my husband returned and now I find myself willing to sleep in a bit later and relax a bit into the day.
I also have a desire for a certain level of cleanliness in the house otherwise I feel stressed. I’ve reduced the amount I need to clean though over the years and keep telling myself I won’t regret the lack of hours spent cleaning when I’m on my deathbed.
I’m happy to hear you are giving yourself a break. As women we are our own worst enemies.
You are giving yourself more space to enjoy life as it comes, rather than seek a perfect house! So wise. xox