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Coping with Changes of Plans/Routines

By Nightingale121 · May 31, 2018 · ·
  1. I like my routines and when everything works as I had planned or expected. However, it doesn't always work obviously.
    I have three main strategies to cope with this:

    1. Making backup plans
    I go to work by bus and train. They are rather reliable in general, but of course there can be problems.
    At the beginning I was very anxious as soon as something looked like it could go wrong, for example when I could predict that I would very likely miss my bus due to a train delay.
    By now I am way more comfortable with this simply because I researched many alternatives. So if I can foresee that I'll probably miss one bus, I'll get out of the train a station earlier and try to catch another bus from there. I also know the relevant train/bus schedules and the tracks pretty well by now.
    This is just one example, but the technique can be applied to other situations as well.

    2. Catching up
    This mostly applies to time-related routines.
    For example, I have a work morning routine when I come there including specific times for specific tasks. I usually arrive in a time frame of about 3-5 minutes depending on how fast I walk from the train station and begin my work morning routine from there.
    Train delays can cause me to come later than usual. This messes up the times for all the follow-up tasks of course.
    It is possible to catch up with my routines though, so that I'm on track again eventually. At lunch time I'm usually on the right schedule again.
    So at the end it still feels "wrong" in a way, but once I am in my routine again it gets better.

    3. Skipping parts
    It can happen that there are unexpected delays that have a bigger impact, so that I cannot follow my routine in the "right way" anymore. As a last solution I might just skip one task then.
    This doesn't only have to do with following my routines though. It's also influenced by the actual cause of the delay. A stressful, exhausting event that takes longer than I thought causes several problems at the same time:
    a) My routine is messed up.
    b) I'm exhausted because of the stressful event.
    c) The fact that I was exposed to the exhausting situation longer than expected increases the exhaustion even more, i. e. the longer I'm in an exhausting situation the more exhausted I get naturally.
    This can cost me so much energy that I can't do all the other tasks for the day and skip something.
    For example, I had an appointment after work recently that took longer than I expected. I had planned to go to bed early that day anyway because I had already been exhausted by the current work stress. When I was at home at last it was way after my dinner time and I felt very tired. I needed some energy for taking a shower and the going to bed routine. So I decieded to skip dinner to catch up with the planned time to go to bed and to save some energy for the task of going to bed itself. So both the fact that I had to catch up with my schedule and my exhaustion influenced my decision not to have dinner that day.
    Dinner is the most likely step in my daily routine to be cancelled if this happens along with other optional evening activities, such as doing stuff on the internet etc.

    Another problem are fixed times without an alternative that I might miss due to some sort of delay, which I cannot influence. My coping mechanisms can't help there.
    The only way is to make good backup plans to prevent the delay in the first place, so I can make sure not to miss the specific fixed time event.

    Spontaneity of others can also be a problem for me.
    If I made weekend plans with someone and then suddenly the other person says that we'll rather do something else instead suddenly, it's difficult to cope with it for me. I had already mentally prepaed for one thing, planned it in my mind and also adjusted my other tasks in a way to do the specific activity. A sudden change means that all this starts all over again and it feels "wrong" and can be too much.
    My father likes to do this with family weekend plans a lot. We had some fights over this because he couldn't understand how it felt "wrong" for me and was hard to cope with. Depending on what it was I ended up staying at home instead of going anywhere at all because it was wrong and I was overwhelmed and occasionally even had some sort of breakdown with crying, which my parents were even less likely to understand. They just said I should "get over it" and that it's not that bad.

    My coping mechanisms help me and I'm better at accepting these changes nowadays than I was some years ago. At least it doesn't show that much anymore. Internally I'm still not completely comfortable with these kinds of things.
    However, I understand that I need to adapt too and that people won't accept me freaking out about changes to my routines, for example at the work place.
    The internal problems with this rather show in more subtle ways, causing more tiredness or being unable to do much after a work day with lots of spontaneity. I usually deal with this by going to bed early when everything gets just too much at the end to recharge again and to be able to cope with work and life in general the next day.

    All of this is about changes I cannot influence. It is different if I am the one who initiates a change of my routines or plans.
    When it is my idea, I have already thought about it and - however spontaneous an action is - am prepared by the fact that the idea is in my head and comes from myself.
    But when someone else changes something, it is really spontaneous. I haven't had the time to think about it myself before or to adjust to it. It just suddenly happens and then I am supposed to deal with it. This is difficult to handle for me and what my coping mechanisms are for.
    base283, rainfall and LucyPurrs like this.


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  1. Cogitatio
    Transport is a major stressor for me too. My strategy is somewhat counter intuitive. I get out of stressing over trains and transport by not planning. If I have no plans (I will explain) they cannot go wrong. So when I have to go to a meeting at say 15:00 and its a 1 hour train I will leave at 12:00. Why? well, I assume I will either wait at the start until the 14:00 train and then risk stress of missing it or something going wrong, or go at 12:00, arrive early and wait at the other end. I then do not have to worry about missing a train or there being an issue. So when people ask 'what train am I getting?' I simply answer, the next one.
      Nightingale121 likes this.
    1. Nightingale121
      I like this strategy and occasionally apply it as well, but not very often when it comes to transport.
      My problem with transport is that I need to go to work by bus and train. So "the next one" isn't that simple because I also have to consider the other schedules as well.
      Cogitatio likes this.
    2. Nightingale121
      So I end up doing some sort of "spontaneous planning" as described in my first strategy. It makes me somewhat flexible, but also helps me not to spend hours at stations because "the next one" has to be applied several times and I might miss a bus or train at each station if I don't pay attention to the schedules in more detail.
      Cogitatio likes this.
  2. Sabrina
    Congratulations, be proud of yourself, your coping mechanisms are awesome!
      Nightingale121 likes this.
    1. Nightingale121