What do you do when a day seems to keep getting worse as it progresses? Yesterday was one of those days, and I fought the urge not to just get back in bed and see if tomorrow might be any better. Alas, as a mother and wife, that reaction doesn't really work for any of us.
First off, it's cold and damp in LA. The anniversary of my stroke hit me kind of hard for some reason this year on Sunday, and the dreary weather did not help. The weather does affect my mood and my bad shoulders! Second, as I was returning emails at our dining room table, my uncooperative right hand knocked a cup of the "black gold" across my relatively new laptop. Of course, Jay had to halt everything he was doing for a good hour to try and figure out how to salvage it. It's currently drying out on its side, but things are not looking good. I am praying that it will turn back on. Third, at therapy, I was informed that I may be able to get more therapy visits than I thought this year, but we will have to pay much more for it out-of-pocket. Fourth, as I took my lunch plate to the kitchen, I saw our kitchen floor was flooded. Our dishwasher is so fickle that it rarely turns on on the first try. After two days of trying and failing to get it to actually run, once it did, it leaked water and bubbles everywhere!
Phew, just recounting the events gives me a bit of a stomach ache. Hopefully, those will be it for a while, but the week's not over yet. Anyway, all this led me back to one of my life maxims -- "you can't control what happens to you; all you can control is your responseto it". Even that statement seems lofty as I feel that I sometimes don't even have control over my reaction!
As stress-inducing as it was to re-list all the annoyances of my day, maybe it will be cathartic to list the ways ways that I set myself up to respond well to such unanticipated situations...
1) Collect Yourself -- sometimes the moment, much less many built up moments, can get the best of us, so if it's not an absolute emergency, I find it's best to step back a second, take a deep breath, and remind myself that everything's going to be OK.
2) Shift the Focus -- after things are settled, assess and do what you can to fix the situation at hand, then find a way to get your mind off of it. I can easily spend the rest of my day hyper-focusing on things that have gone wrong, and there went a day that I could have been doing a lot better things. Make yourself laugh hysterically (my middle sister is always good for this one), hug someone or something, flip open the Bible or an encouraging devotional and focus on something positive.
3) Give Yourself a Break and Maybe even a Treat -- this one can certainly go wrong very quickly...an emotion-filled shopping spree or food binge or scream cry may feel good in the moment but it can really hurt and make things worse once the dust settles. Nonetheless, if you need a little chocolate or to zone out in front of the TV for a bit, then by all means do it. I think a long, hot bath was just the ticket for me last night! Of course, don't hang out in the self-medication phase for too long.
4) Find a Physical Outlet -- the body responds to stressors in ways that we are not even aware of and the accumulation of stress and poor patterns of dealing with it inevitably build up over time. If a stressful situation has your blood elevated and your body tense, then why not let that blood flow freely and loosen yourself up a bit...take a walk around the block, do a yoga DVD, or even some squats up and down on the couch. Sometimes the stress-releasing work-outs are the best ones!
5) Get Perspective -- as obnoxious as all of the events of my day were--and all of the events of your day too--in the grand scheme of things, these are what we have come to call "luxury problems". There is actual pain and suffering and horrific problems plaguing real people all over the world at this very moment. Every one of my problems pale in comparison to those. I mean having a dishwasher and a laptop are luxuries!!! Recognizing that helps your body and mind to properly order what can seem like a life and death moment and help you create a response that is the best one you can offer up.
Here's hoping tomorrow is a little more calm!