Dear EFAP: my routine has gone out the window

Thank you to those who have written to “Dear EFAP” for input on your dilemmas. As you are aware, we read every inquiry that comes in but we are only able to print a small selection of responses.  Our “pithy” answers are modeled after the lighter hearted Dear Abby style and are grounded in common sense.  If your issues require a more personalized level of support please call EFAP (1-800-505-4929) and we can confidentially book you a counselling appointment with a senior level therapist.

We welcome all inquiries – please submit these to All printed responses use the anonymous descriptor that you sign your inquiry with and do not reveal any identifying information.  Our goal is to support you through insight and common sense.

Below is our response to the next selection – enjoy!


My routine has gone out the window and everything is a mess – my apartment, my health and eating habits are all out of whack and I can’t seem to get things turned around.  I go out all the time, whenever I’m asked, and then come home and binge watch series on Netflix, which inevitably leads to snacking late into the night.  I don’t really know why I’m doing this, and I don’t know how to turn it around.

  • Distressed by my Mess

Dear Distressed by my Mess

Some stress is a good thing, my friend.  It keeps us alert and energized but alas, too much of it can zap us and deplete our resources, and it sounds like you’ve been heading in the latter direction.  Surprisingly, we can have some control of how much stress we face by simply changing a few habits, and clutter is a big one – a cluttered environment is a cluttered mind.  So, making time to get rid of some of that clutter will allow you to feel immediately less hemmed in, less disorganized and less stressed.

Are you a yes person? It sounds like you might have that tendency with your frequent sojourns out. Perhaps ask yourself, what’s propelling that? Guilt? Can’t say no? Think about it, because there’s no reason to feel guilty, and you actually can say no.  It’s all about how to say no, and to do so with transparency and grace.

As for the late night eating, it’s something we’ve all done but something you don’t want to allow to turn into a habit.  We often eat to numb stress, so getting back on track with a healthier diet with the help of a dietitian is something to consider.  They can help you rejig your eating habits and come up with a diet that makes sense for you.

Stress expert, Jordan Lawson, states that “sleep procrastination” can lead to added stress, because we really do need our shut eye.  Skimping on sleep can apparently cause a non- stop secretion of cortisol and adrenaline, and will keep you on edge, setting you up for high stress.  So, focusing on getting to sleep at a reasonable hour and perhaps doing some relaxation exercises to help you calm is a sure fire way to help curb this nasty little habit.

And finally, not having a routine can cause stress.  A routine grounds us, without one we can feel a sense of internal chaos, which is exhausting.  So, think about your day and what it could routinely look like and see if it’s possible to stay in that wheelhouse.  These are all tips to consider for understanding where stress might be showing up and offering some ways to tackle it. If this all feels like too much on your own then please do give us a call, we’re here to help!

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The advice offered in this column is meant to be used as general guidance based on the facts provided. The opinions or views expressed should not be relied on as treatment or counselling services. If you are a VCH staff member and find yourself in need of counselling or support, please contact EFAP toll free at 1-800-505-4929 or 604-872-4929, your family doctor, or another appropriately trained and qualified specialist.

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