By David Joel Miller.
If your day is off to a bad start, you can restart it.
Have you ever gotten up and had something go very wrong first thing in the morning? Remember the day you went out to find your car had a flat tire? Maybe you spilled something on that brand-new outfit you just put on.
Those of you in relationships, or with school-age children, probably know exactly what I am talking about. They are just so many ways a day can get off to a bad start.
Was your first thought “this is going to be a bad day?” Thinking that, expecting the worst, is a sure way to create a terrible day. The secret you need to know is that no matter what has happened so far today there are ways to restart that day. You do not need to let small things first thing in the morning cascade into a simply dreadful rest of the day.
Some of you are probably thinking that some days in your life, something awful did happen. I grant you that the major things in life may take more than one day to get past. However, for the bulk of things that set people’s days off in the wrong direction, there are some ways to reset that day and make a difficulty into a small set back.
Here are some techniques for resetting a day that is off to a bad start.
Take a deep breath.
When something happens to knock you off your game, the first thing most people do is hold their breath. Some people begin to breathe rapidly and shallowly. The result of failing to breathe normally is to increase your anxiety. When your brain feels a shortage of oxygen, it goes into a panic mode, anything to get some more air.
Pause long enough to take some deep breaths, linger over those breaths and give yourself enough time for that oxygen to reach your brain. Deep and slow breathing is a sure antidote for the anxiety that takes over when you have had a setback first thing in the morning.
When you begin to feel scattered, look for a way to center yourself. Some people find a simple prayer helpful. You might have a favorite poem, quotation, or personal affirmation, that you find useful in bringing yourself back to the present.
Many people use a small object as a way of grounding themselves. Whether it is a religious object, a rock or something else from nature, or a small object that brings back happy memories, objects can be very useful in centering yourself.
Move around, take a walk.
Fear likes to shut things down. Once one problem happens, you are likely to freeze. Don’t stay stuck there ruminating about how bad this day will go. Unstick yourself, move around a little bit, go for a short walk, or do a few simple exercises. Some stretching exercises or yoga postures can go a long way toward shifting your focus away from the issue.
Straighten up your environment.
When your life is feeling out of control, getting back control of even a little bit of space can be helpful. Did something spill or break? Cleaning it up is a first step in regaining control. Got a mass of bills, mail that needs an answer? Go through the mail, throw away or delete the junk and the duplicate items. Getting organized can cut that mountain of paperwork down to a manageable size.
Use your support system.
Feeling overwhelmed? Try reconnecting with your support system. A phone call to a family member or friend can turn your day around. Even a brief email or short text can help you shift your attitude and get you going again.
Plan something fun.
Today doesn’t look so gloomy when you have something to look forward to. It is easier to get through today when you have something positive to look forward to. As adults, we often forget how to play. Avoid the kind of fun that can result in a physical or emotional hangover. Get together with positive friends. Spend time with pets. Take yourself to a movie or the park.
Listen to your music.
Find a way to play your tunes. Look for music and songs that put you in a good mood. People in a negative mood often play sad or angry music. Make it a point to search out and collect up positive and relaxing tunes.
Say a prayer.
Many people will tell you about their religious faith, but when things are going wrong, they often forget to have a conversation with that higher power they report they believe in. Prayers don’t need to be reserved the life-and-death moments, the end of the world, try asking for the strength to get through the daily difficulties.
Meditating does not need to be complicated. Clear your mind of distractions and focus on something positive. Think about a happy place you have been, maybe a time you went to the mountain or the beach. The more time you spend focused on the positive, the more your happiness expands. Focus on the negative, and it obliterates those happy memories.
Read something inspirational.
Seek out inspiration. Keep a helpful book at hand. When you find things that are helpful, copy them down and save them for the next time you need to restart your day. Collect helpful saying that will help you to reset the next day that starts out the wrong direction.
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For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings, and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books