Nothing is so fatiguing as the eternal hanging on of an uncompleted task. ~William James

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Tips for the Day From Hell: The Sequel

As I proceeded through my up-against-it day yesterday, I continued to think about what I might do to ease my pain.  The ideas came faster than I could jot them down.  

Can we spell r-a-c-i-n-g  m-i-n-d?

Here is the second batch of strategies, bringing us to a nice round 25.  Or it would have been, if I hadn't had another brainstorm.  So 26, then.

19.  Walk, and talk, and walk your talk adagio or andante--music-speak for "moderately slow," and at a "walking pace," respectively.  And throw in a little legato ("smoothly, connected"), if you can.  Banish those fast and jerky movements that possess our bodies in the stressed-out state.  Not only do they not help us to get things done any more quickly, but they can lead to spills and breakage and other mishaps, which will actually slow us down.  And they signal fight or flight to our over-working amygdalas.

20.  Leave a few minutes early for appointments and meetings--or make up your mind to be late with grace.  Driving too fast in a distracted state of mind is never a good thing.  Nor is fuming with impatience, or trying to multi-task while behind the wheel.  If you don't have enough time to get to all the places you need to be today on time, you will get there when you get there.  So get there alive, and with a smile on your face, and a respectful acknowledgement of any inconvenience your lateness may cause others.  Remember this moment when scheduling things in the future.

21.  Remind yourself of why you're doing all these things that have you racing around.  Ideally, all this stress is at least nominally in the service of stuff you believe in, and care deeply about.  Keeping your eyes on the prize may help get you through this crunch time.  But if you can't remember why you're doing something--or worse, if the items on your to-do-or-die-trying list don't reflect your values--just don't.

22.  Shower.  It may seem as if you don't have time, but it will make you feel so much better that it's worth the few minutes you will spend.  And not, as I caught myself doing recently, as if you're on your way to a fire, scrubbing fast and harshly, whipping that razor across your shin (ouch!), dashing shampoo into your eyes and swearing.  

23.  Dress for de-stress.  Dress completely--don't forget any essential elements of your outfit, like pants, for example.  Dress comfortably, but nicely.  Skip the skirt you can't sit down in, and the heels that make you mince and wince.  Likewise, the puce sweater that makes you look anemic.  Look like you want to feel--calm, and in control.  Yourself, but happier. 

24.  Lay off the junk--food, booze, cigarettes, caffeine and other tools of self-abuse.  The quick little hits of pleasure are not worth the price in added stress chemicals and their components in your body.  Trust me on this one.

25.  Look up.  There is always that great big sky above us, and whatever natural beauty the season supplies.  Even a gray November day holds it charms, if you remember to take it in.  Coming up for air in this way can alleviate the tunnel vision that takes over as we strain to accomplish the undo-able.

26.  Four words:  sleep, water, chocolate (a little) and veggies (a lot).  Nourish the tortured little animal you've become as you run around your squeaking wheel.  If you are going to complete the onerous task you've set before yourself, you will need your strength.  This is especially important if your stressful period is more of a marathon than a sprint.

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