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.