Beating Back Monday Morning Overwhelm

I woke up this morning feeling “off.”  It’s the last week before school starts at our house, a short work week, and I have a long “to-do” list.  I was feeling overwhelmed before I even dug in.  Then, as I started my morning with my big mug of coffee, I ran across several more tasks that hadn’t gotten any attention this weekend. My mind started whirling and I started feeling like going back to bed was a very tempting—but impossible–option. Here’s what I did instead:

I sat. I got up, moved away from all the reminders of things undone and sat quietly for two whole minutes.  If you haven’t tried this when you are stressed, two minutes is a very long time.  I sat and did nothing and realized how tense I actually was.  (By the way, if you are thinking of trying my strategy, this is NOT a step that you can skip or “pretend” to do in your mind.  I know how tempting it is, but I find that I really need to sit and do nothing for everything else to work.)

Gratitude. I made a mental list of three things I am really, truly grateful for in my life.  Once I have three I usually find I have five or six or more.  This is a way of refocusing and creating a mind shift.  Gratitude exercises have been found to increase happiness.  I’ll take all I can get.

Prioritize. Next I made a list—IN WRITING—of my three top do-able action items for the day.  These are my priorities and my rule is that attending to my priorities, knocking these out, gets me a mental gold star.  I’m not allowed to pile more on or “yes-but” these accomplishments by judging myself for other stuff I didn’t get to.  When I know my priorities and have them written down, I almost always start to feel calmer, and that happened today.  This list also helps me figure out where to dig in and where to go next if I get distracted.

Take control. There are little self-care things I can attend to that don’t take much time, but that for some reason I tend to skip if I’m in overwhelm. Vitamins.  Water. Wearing something I feel great in. For me, these things always pay off.  So I did them.

Music. That’s the final step. There isn’t much that will change my energy level, my mood, even my pace faster than great music.  I put on some music that I love.

Thirty minutes later, I’m on track, feeling purposeful and clear, and I have a song stuck in my head.  Plus I just wrote this blog post.

Happy Monday!


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