It’s barely 10am and I’m overwhelmed.
- My morning started at 5am, not of my own choosing.
- The car had to be taken to the shop, and I chose to not write down what needed to be done and keep it all in my head instead.
- I had to drive during rush-hour, which I never do (I live 2 miles from campus and typically work from home on Thursdays)
- I’m waiting to hear back about someone who wants to buy our hammock on Craigslist.
- It’s going to be 98 degrees today.
- Due to a medication, I am physically unable to sweat.
- Repeat: it’s going to be 98 degrees today, and I can’t sweat.
- I’ve received nearly a dozen emails from the online course where I’m a teaching assistant. From there, that added about 4 new tasks to the already daily tasks I do.
- I received 77 scans from one of my UK archives and the email insisted that EVERYTHING MUST BE DOWNLOADED WITHIN 7 DAYS. And so, my brain translated that into: “DOWNLOAD EVERYTHING IMMEDIATELY AND BACK IT UP IN 6 PLACES SO YOU DON’T LOSE IT AND HAVE TO PAY FOR IT AGAIN”
- Facebook: Political rants. People hurting. People scared. People angry. People feeling helpless.
In looking at this list though, I realize that I have some control over many of these. Instead of letting them be bulletpoints, I started to categorize them. Normally, I do this on my daily to-do list, but I hadn’t taken the time to sit down yet and plan. So I forced myself to sit down for 15 minutes, drink half a bottle of water, and write out my to-do list including all of the things I had done so far.
Tips for Regaining Peace after a Stressful Morning
- Drink some water and eat a small (healthy) snack. Water and a snack can go a long way in making you regain yourself, especially when it’s going to be 98 degrees outside and you’ve already exhausted your brain fuel supply taking care of chaos. Rebalance yourself physically so you can take care of yourself mentally.
- Write down all the stressful things. Paper and pen or strokes on the keyboard, it doesn’t matter how you do it, just get it out of your head and into a place you can visually see it.
- Categorize them into buckets that make sense to you. Once you have the list, see if you can start building categories to show yourself the areas you’ve already made some gains that day. For me, I categorized mine into four: Online Course, Dissertation Work, Self-Care, and Home Organization/Cleaning (includes Craigslist and car repair). This helps me remember what’s most important to me and identify other areas where I can cut back (you see how Facebook doesn’t fit into those??)
- Determine your (reasonable) goals for the rest of the day. Put those on your To-Do list. Preferably a To-Do list that incorporates time-blocking.
- Avoid Facebook and Email. Unless social media is part of your job duties (or only contains pictures of adorable animals that you enjoy), AVOID IT.1 Also, turn off email alerts until after a certain time. (You’ll note, this post was added to Facebook via an automatic script from WordPress).
- Practice gratefulness. A new thing I’ve added to eliminate stress is to find a way to practice gratefulness. Today, I want to write 3 cards to people in my life who were affected by the recent shootings at Pulse in Orlando. It’s part of my desire to do something more tangible than passively read or “like” things on Facebook. It’s about making sure people in my life know how much spectacular they are.
A big thank you to several people who posted this:
Trust me when I say that even your bravest, most confident, most fine-seeming LGBT loved one badly needs to hear you say “you matter to me.”
— Carlos Maza (@gaywonk) June 13, 2016
Below is a snapshot of my to-do list (on left) and the time-blocking (on right):
Here’s to getting today back on the right foot.
What does your to-do list look like today? How do you handle stressful mornings? What do you do when you also have to handle someone else’s stressful morning (like a spouse or a child?)? What are your most successful ways of moving past the anxiety and regaining control of your day? How do you practice gratefulness?