Monday Morning Wake-Up Call (224 consecutive days. Amygdala to the rescue)

When there are discrepancies between expectations and reality, all kinds of distress signals go off in the brain. It doesn’t matter if it’s a holiday ritual or more mundane habit like how you tie your shoes; if you can’t do it the way you normally do it, you’re biologically engineered to get upset. This in part explains people’s grief and longing for the routines that were the background melodies of their lives before the pandemic — and also their sense of unease as we enter a holiday season unlike any other. The good news is that much of what we miss about our routines and customs, and what makes them beneficial to us as a species, has more to do with their comforting regularity than the actual behaviors. The key to coping during this, or any, time of upheaval is to quickly establish new routines so that, even if the world is uncertain, there are still things you can count on…

Routines, rituals and habits arise from the primitive part of our brains telling us, “Keep doing what you’ve been doing, because you did it before, and you didn’t die.”

…So the unvarying way you shower and shave in the morning, how you always queue up for a latte before work and put your latte to the left of your laptop before checking your email are all essentially subconscious efforts to make your world more predictable, orderly and safe…

…Our brains are literally overburdened with all the uncertainty caused by the pandemic. Not only is there the seeming capriciousness of the virus, but we no longer have the routines that served as the familiar scaffolding of our lives. Things we had already figured out and relegated to the brain’s autopilot function — going to work, visiting the gym, taking the kids to school, meeting friends for dinner, grocery shopping — now require serious thought and risk analysis…

But it’s mundane routines that give us structure to help us pare things down and better navigate the world, which helps us make sense of things and feel that life has meaning…

The truth is that you cannot control what happens in life. But you can create a routine that gives your life a predictable rhythm and secure mooring….

— Kate Murphy, from “Pandemic-Proof Your Habits” (NY Times, November 28, 2020)


  • My Morning Walk to Cove Island Park. 224 days consecutive days.
  • Photo: Daybreak. December 13, 2020. 6:53 am. 47° F. Cove Island Park, Stamford CT


  1. I join you, being up at an ungodly hour….pondering the loss of routine and the fact my administrative assistant came down with symptoms over the weekend and is being tested today. I’m getting too old for this stuff.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. that is so spot on, and you are living it with your morning walks and missives

    Liked by 2 people

  3. This resonates deeply, pal. My dogs have helped to keep me grounded and engaged in these deeply distressing and unmoored months. They remain affectionate and loving no matter the day or actions of the world outside our doors. They are wed to their routine and thus so am I. Meals, walks, frisbee time…all happen with the regularity of a Swiss watch. Exercise has also been my savior, as your walks have been for you. Up every morning, workout to complete come what may. Must maintain some constants in these continuously shifting times or deep distress threatens to engulf me.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Thanks for sharing this. So many people struggling these days. Daily routine is a godsend.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m willing to change my routine at any time to have maybe one or two hours of reading in bed every morning…. (and I go on dreaming). 😉
    well expressed – we ARE herd animals in that respect. Routines keep us going.
    Have a good one.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. We adapt and adjust all the time – perhaps it comes with age, the knowledge that all of the routine is hardly that which is essential. The photos you take, the sound of the house when the kids are home, the cardinal hanging out at the bird feeder. The routines offer a way to tell time; there’s something to be said for tossing the clock out the window….

    Liked by 1 person

  7. This was a great read, dk!
    I am not a creature of habit but I’m passionate about mindful routine, controlled routine. I don’t want my days, or life, to feel like my weight pulling me down a slide. I want to walk the steps, mindfully.
    I think that since that instant I give birth the first time, 24 years ago, something happened and I can easily walk around my “routine” without feeling stressed.
    I know that at my core there are things I do on any given day, at a specific time, like my heart beat, voluntary. But they are rare! And those little things are like the hanger I put the coat/dress that is my day on. They are very few, and must be strategically positioned to hold it well.

    244 days at the gate of night into day, wow! Thank you for being here.

    Liked by 3 people

  8. three cheers for routines! Have you made plans for how to keep your streak going with the potential snowstorm later this week?


  9. Reblogged this on It Is What It Is and commented:
    Pandemic chaos – all has changed!! … “The truth is that you cannot control what happens in life. But you can create a routine that gives your life a predictable rhythm and secure mooring … Kate Murphy, from “Pandemic-Proof Your Habits” (NY Times, November 28, 2020).”

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I don’t know your intention with your daily walks and photo sharing David ( that would kind of be like saying I can read your mind – though on a different level — your heart shows through everything you post – and that is a beautiful thing to see and read)
    I do know that what you’ve created for me is a space to come and be inspired. You’ve created a place where I know, whenever I visit, I will see and read something that will spark my curiosity, imagination, sense of wonder.
    And, a place where I feel connected – to you, your readers and all that everyone shares.
    And that my friend is an amazing gift. Not only during these times of Covid, but every day, through all kinds of weather and times.
    Because, ultimately, you’ve created a place where the frontal lobes awaken and the amygdala rests quietly in peaceful slumber.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Sound advice here❣️

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I’ve always known you are a man of commitment…
    thank you for this day’s & many other RX of peace-filled beauty…eyes gifted, breath forward, soul enriched…keep walking, breathing, sharing and drinking in life’s amazing gifts…

    Liked by 1 person

  13. this particular photo is in my top 10 of DK’s visions….

    Liked by 1 person

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