Tom said, “2017 is going to be our best year yet.” That was December 31,2016. He also is fond of saying “You don’t know what you don’t know.” His second statement has been so much more accurate. This has been a year when, on many days, the bottom has looked like up. In other words what you thought was hitting bottom really wasn’t. There turned out to be several levels underneath that. We didn’t know what we didn’t know. Perhaps he should have said “2017 is going to be our best stress year yet”
That being said, it could have been worse when I actually stop and look at all the negative events we hadn’t anticipated. The roadblocks, the stumbling blocks and the diversions somedays seemed insurmountable What usually made those days worse was dweilling on the negative, allowing the stress of the event to cloud my thinking about everything else.
And that is where I am going with today’s post…when the bottom looks like up how we can make it better OR how to pause and think about the positive side of even the worst events we may be experiencing. Health scares for some family members and myself threatened to derail me but looking back, while there was testing, uncomfortable procedures, and some troubling results we all made it through and have recovered for the most part, with no terminal diagnosis.
A sad and stressful week for America
This past week has shaken our nation with a massacre in Las Vegas that no one could have foreseen. Fifty eight innocent people, out for an evening of music and fun lost their lives. This was not because they were old, not because they had a terminal illness, not because they were behaving recklessly. Someone they had never met decided to end it for them.
There are families who will struggle for months to come trying to make sense of the loss of their friends and family members who died that evening. Not the same as losing a 91 year old mother who had a stroke – sad and difficult but not unexpected or mind numbing. Yes, our family will grieve for the loss of our mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, but it could have been worse. She chould have lived on, trapped in a body that no longer cooperated with speech or movement, one in pain and indignity,or being taken suddenly in the prime of her life, instead of dying quietly with her family around her. Rephrasing in light of other tragedies helps.
For many of you the world is filled with too many frantic days – nothing particularly devestating but annoying, distressing, upsetting and trying, days that make you wonder where you will find the calm to deal with tomorrow. How you will get through the next challenge. How do we find calm in our frantic worlds?
Moving Up and On
We look around and see people living on the streets, people who have lost their homes to hurricaines and earthquakes and we feel guilty about complaining because we can’t meet a deadline or have more to do than we can possibly get done in our short little 24 hour day. The big tragedies however do NOT make the problems in our daily lives go away or less significant to us – only adds to them by making us feel guilty or worried that we aren’t doing enough to help. They make our days more frantic even though we are not personally involved.
With the big things we need to do what we can and MOVE ON. If you have contributed what you can, let it go. Instead of dwelling on the news, listening to CNN 24/7, reading every newspaper article, STOP. Turn it off. We cannot change past events. I AM NOT in any way minimizing the tragedies going on in the lives of those people in Puerto Rico, Mexico, or Texas. Or those families who lost loved ones in Las Vegas. BUT if you have volunteered what you can, donated money or supplies as you can afford, done what you can, then let it go. We can only do as much as we can do then we must move forward instead of letting the world events make us even more frantic.
Finding your calm when the bottom seems like up
Nancy Collier, author of The Power of Off: Mindful Ways to Stay Sane, has some suggestions if you find the day crashing down around you.
- Too much to do? Instead of negative self-talk state things in the positive. Instead of “I will never get this mess cleaned up” state “I know this room will look so much better when I get these trash bags filled. Some of this can go to Good Will.” (Cleaning up our mother’s house that she had not been able to care for over the past several years seemed daunting but breaking it into specific tasks and thinking about the end results made it easier. ) Setting time limits for certain tasks also made it manageable. Work on a job for 15 min. then switch to something else for awhile. Sometimes just getting started when you know there is an end in sight makes a job easier.
- Take a play break. Play triggers positive neurochemicals that increase a sense of well being and decrease anxiety and stress.
- Check out the apps on your smartphone like Calm, Buddhify, Headspace, Stop, Breathe and Think.
- Drink a glass of water. Staying hydrated makes you feel better and the act of drinking the water slows down your frantic pace.
- Listen to your environment. Take time to hear the birds or whatever is in your surroundings. (A short trip ouside can often clear my head and make me feel more calm.) Per Nancy Collier “allow your ears to simply receive whatever sound arises”.
- Carry a talisman, a shell or a stone, a button off an old piece of clothing that made you feel good. I used to keep a small dish of shells I gathered from one of my favorite vacations on Topsail Island, on my desk. When things got too crazy I’d take a shell from the dish, study it and think about that vacation. It pulls you out of the “now” and helps you remember there have been and will be better times. It puts the now into perspective. Amazing how those shells it could bring my heart rate and breathing down.
- Take time to be silly. ( I used to keep a red clowns nose in my desk at my office. If things were getting a little too tense I’d pull out the nose and walk around the office with it on until someone started to laugh.)
- Eat some protein. Low blood sugar can contribute to the feeling of stress and anxiety. A handful of nuts, spoonful of peanut butter or a hard boiled egg can give you a boast.
At the End of the Day
Breathe! Take a minute to be thankful for what you do have. Think about the people in your life who love you and who you love- past and present, an event that provided joy, a favorite book, movie or food. Concentrate for 5 minutes on the pluses in your life regardless of how small and insignificant they may seem. Step back from the edge and……
Remember Scarlet, Tomorrow is another day. And the bottom might not really have been so bad after all.