Routine Maintenance

When we’re struggling with anxiety, depression, exhaustion, or other forms of executive dysfunction, we’re often told that “a little exercise, sunlight, and a good snack should fix us right up.” That’s wrong. The underlying issues go deeper than that. But the fault lies with their expectations, not with the advice itself. How often do we actually follow it, anyway?

Neither exercise, diet, or sunlight - not even “happy thoughts” - will magically “cure” us. But they can help. We do do tend to neglect these because of that same executive dysfunction. It should come as no surprise when adequate outdoors time, healthier meals, and brisk walks make up feel momentarily better.

And that moment of reprieve can give us an opening to wedge in more permanent improvements. Perhaps enough focus to make that call to a therapist, enough satiation to break the cycle of dissatisfying junk food and cook a meal instead, or enough time in the park to rest, recharge, and think about the years to come. We might only catch our breath (literally, in the case of anxiety) but that’s still more of a break than we tend to give ourselves.

When did you last have a full glass of water? Spent fifteen straight minutes walking or running out in the sun? Had a wholesome meal or even a healthy snack? Executive dysfunction impacts our ability to notice when we lack these, not unlike a phone with a broken screen. We know the notifications are there, and others know they’re sending us messages that we’ve received, but we still can’t always read them underneath all the cracks.

Basic care for our body is no panacea. It can be a bandage. Dress yourself properly and then see if you can get lasting help.