Wednesday, January 13, 2016

5 Steps To Face The Day

We all know that there are some days worse than others. There are days when just getting out of bed seems to be a herculean accomplishment, and the very thought of something so complicated as getting dressed is enough to initiate the downward spiral. I know I’ve been there. I don’t usually do lists like this, but some days, I need the simple reminder. I hope it is something that you will find of use as well.

1. Get out of Bed

When you’re having a day like this, getting out of bed may actually be the most difficult thing you do all day. Do it anyway. Don’t make excuses, and don’t say, “Just five more minutes.” Sooner begone is sooner done, and the day is not going to get any better by postponing it. In fact, sleeping in is likely to make it worse. Now you’re not only having a bad day, but you’re also running late and don’t have time to get done the things you need done. Bad idea. Pushing that snooze button is a fantastic way to make a bad day even worse.

Instead, make yourself get up right away, and be in the shower before your brain has even had time to register its disapproval. Your first step of the day helps to guide the day, and this step says, “I can do this.” Not only are you not giving in, but you are charging forward with all alacrity. Sometimes that’s even enough to flip the mental switch and get your brain back on the right track. Not often, sorry, so don’t expect it, but it helps, and it can’t hurt.

2. Find the Routine

Most of us, especially those of us who who deal with issues like this often, have routines. Routines get me through the morning, because I am not, by nature, an early riser. I don’t normally wake up until about twenty minutes after I have sat down at my desk at the office, so having a morning routine helps to make sure I don’t miss anything. I can go through the motions, checking all of the boxes until such time as my brain actually kicks in and decides that it’s going to be an active participant. This helps to make certain every morning that I walk out the door having had breakfast and wearing pants.

The same trick can help to keep things on track during your worst days. If you have a routine then you are checking the boxes, even when your mind is trying to chuck the boxes out of the window. This can also help to give you a sense of accomplishment because you are getting things done, and such a positive emotional experience can help to break the duldrums. Again, at the very least, it can’t hurt. On the other hand, failing at some task because you tried to do more than you are currently capable of doing can hurt. Don’t do that. On this kind of day, it is better to succeed at small things than to fail at big ones.

3. Mix It up a Little

Keep in mind that, when I say “a little,” I mean just that. Don’t bite off more than you can chew, and don’t break your routine, but do something different from what you would normally do. If you usually have tacos on Tuesday, have a salad instead. Try to make it a healthy change, just because it’s healthy, but make it a change that won’t hurt anything if it goes sideways, while still being enough to notice.

The point of this is to make sure your inner self does not fall asleep. You’re supposed to be playing it safe, not playing it dead, so we want to give a small shock to the system, just to keep the system aware of its surroundings. If this small change works out, try another one a little while later. Don’t overdo it, but make sure you stay awake.

4. Take a Moment

I firmly believe that you should be doing this one every day, regardless, but it becomes even more important on those bad days. Take a moment that is yours, only for you and beholden to no one. If it has to be five minutes staring at a blank wall while the world makes no demands on your time (none that you are currently thinking about, at any rate) then take five minutes to stare at a blank wall. It would be better if you can carve out twenty minutes that are just between you and the universe, but anything is better than nothing. Take a moment if that is all you can take. Just make sure it’s a real moment and really yours.

I don’t care if you call it meditation, prayer, The Great Wide Ohm, or what. The world around you is loud and distracting, and static is constantly clogging up your airways. If you don’t flush the system occasionally, you can’t keep the system operating well. That is just as true of your mind as it is of any other system. If you don’t perform regular maintenance, it’s going to break down, and that’s when things really get bad. You may think things are stressful at the moment, but it is worth taking a few minutes to clear your head if doing so can help prevent a breakdown later.

5. Relax

I can’t stress that enough. Relax. You’re having a bad day, not a bad life. The fact that you are thinking about how to get through this bad day indicates that you have survived every previous bad day, so don’t forget that. This too shall pass and, if you have followed the previous steps, it will probably pass and leave you none the worse for wear. You may even learn something that can make things better next time.

Far too often, we tense up and make things worse. It isn’t necessary. If you’re truly having that bad a day, you’re in no shape to be making major decisions. Don’t. Ride the wave as relaxed as you can, make minor adjustments where you have to, and address the big things when this particular wave is over. Just remember that it always ends. There may be another one coming - there usually is - but you’re not helping yourself by stressing about that one now. Relax.

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Take each day as it comes, and always do the best you can at that moment. If you follow that advise, your good days are going to shine enough to overcome any ground you might lose on your bad days. Sometimes you have to wait out the storm. Do what you can, don’t make it worse, and you’ll get through it. As they say, tomorrow is another day. Use these steps to get through the bad ones, and you’ll get to the better ones. Namaste.

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