Life in Balance

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Q&A with Michelle De Faria: Daily Routines and Family Rituals

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Michelle De Faria is doing her placement at
Eating Disorders of York Region.

Michelle De Faria (right) studied in the postgraduate Addictions and Mental Health program at Durham College and is completing her placement at Eating Disorders of York Region.

Until August 10, she will routinely answer different questions pertaining to family dynamics (in other words, how a family works) in relation to mental health.

Today, Michelle talks about daily routines and family rituals.

Question: What is a daily routine?

Answer: A daily routine involves daily behaviours or activities that a family would take part in to maintain balance and structure. This routine is important because it gives the family a sturdy foundation.  For example, bedtime, chores and mealtime are all daily routines.
Question: How might a family member who has a mental health issue affect a family’s daily routine?
Answer: A family’s daily routines can be interrupted by the symptoms the person struggling may experience. The daily routine can also be affected by how family members react. Over time, daily routines are sometimes structured around the individual struggling to accommodate his or her needs. For example, a mother may stay up passed her bedtime if her child with bulimia nervosa purges late at night. 
Question: What is a family ritual?
Answer: A family ritual is an activity or group of activities that a family would share. The family may partake in these rituals on a daily, weekly, monthly or yearly basis. Family rituals may also take place during special occasions. They can be transmitted from one generation to the next or can be created at any time. Examples include, but are not limited to, family celebrations, family birthdays, family vacations, family reunions and holidays.
Question: How can a mental health concern affect a family ritual?

Answer: A mental health concern can easily interrupt family rituals. For example, a family might decline an invitation to a family reunion because a member with anorexia nervosa may experience anxiety and feel overwhelmed at the event. As the disorder progresses, more rituals may be disrupted. It is important to strive to keep these family rituals active to ensure a balanced family system. Stress, tension and sometimes resentment within the family could result if these rituals are disrupted. As a whole, the family will both acknowledge and feel the loss of structure and balance. 

The above post contains facts and suggestions found in Chemical Dependency: A Family Affair by Olivia Curtis, a textbook used in the Addictions and Mental Health program at Durham College.

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