This was my view one evening last week as I sat on the beach at sunset in Lincoln City, Oregon. If you have ever been to the Oregon coast, you know that Oregonians do not travel to the beach for warmth, sunshine and sipping mai tais in bikinis. For those who journey to this windy, freezy-cold watered coast, the draw is something more. For me, I travel to this spot annually for the perfect predictability of the reassuring ocean.
I am one of those people who can sit for hours and watch the ocean, never tiring of counting the series of seven waves. I can watch the ocean from a couch cuddled inside on a rainy day or while sitting outside covered in the delicious smell of smoke from a nearby bonfire. The predictability of the daily high and low tides, of the constant creeping in and out of the waves and of the guaranteed beauty in the view is a comfort.
For those facing challenging and unsure times, like working through a divorce, we crave comfort and predictability. And fortunately, both can be sought out and found in easy ways. Both comfort and predictability are built in to our daily lives through habits. Walking the dog, the order of our grooming routine in the morning, the day we go grocery shopping. All of these normal routines and habits provide very real comfort during times of change.
But in times of high stress and uncertainty, oddly enough, these easy habits are sometimes the first to go. We stay in bed longer in the morning, mucking up our morning coffee and paper routine or we skip grocery shopping for the week to go have a drink with a friend after work. We believe that more sleep and companionship will provide the comfort we seek. And they might, but not when regularly interfering with the structure of our daily lives.
While on vacation last week, I was acutely reminded of our need for structure and routines, as my 9 month old nephew, cried his head off for a couple of hours in the wee morning hours, no doubt a result of being “off schedule.” The need for consistency, routine and habits is innately human. From infancy we need it and in adulthood we must maintain it. And no time is more important than when we are called upon to use high levels of energy to just make it through the day.
I assure you that making a point of staying on track with your normal habits, routines and regular weekly to-do’s will provide you comfort during these hard days. And it is comforting to know that the outcome of steadiness and a feeling of control over an otherwise hectic time is quite predictable.