How to take control of your momentary lapses

You may find a pattern in your momentary lapses that can be the starting point for a more organized day and a calmer you.

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The COVID-19 pandemic has taken its toll on your mental health as you have more things to worry about with new safety measures added to your already overwhelming to-do list.

 In the hustle and bustle of getting ready, you may find while leaving your house that you have forgotten to bring your cell phone with you.

You know that you have to stay calm and find a solution. But it’s not easy as every day you forget one or more essential items or things to do. You end up spiraling from one crisis to another, with no end in sight.

You are left dealing with recurrent negative thoughts, “Why can’t I stay focused?” or “I’m too stressed to find my way out of these daily failures.”

Instead of giving in to your negative thought patterns, how about taking a break to rejuvenate. Coffee breaks or going on social media help ease your stress, but as you know, only momentarily as you are still left to deal with your almost daily habit of forgetting things. Here, I am not discounting the benefits of taking such breaks, as I feel rested after drinking my chai tea while reading the newspaper. 

If you have got a few extra minutes, you can include controlled breathing in your routine. These breathing exercises can be part of a prior relaxation routine you already have or whenever you feel overwhelmed. 

You can start by bringing your awareness to your breath, monitoring breathing in and breathing out. You can take deep, bellyful breaths, imagining you’re breathing in a ray of golden light. You can also tie in progressive muscle relaxation exercises, where you tense different muscle groups while breathing in and relaxing when breathing out.

The breathing exercise brings you to the moment and gives you a break from your busy thoughts. You can integrate this exercise into your go-to when you realize that you left home without your cell. Panicking, as you know, has not been helpful, as the problem of forgetting persists. 

Cognitive reappraisal or reevaluating your thought about a negative experience will help. You try to find meaning in a negative experience, how this experience will assist you in the future to do better. 

So, when you forget to pick up your cell phone, look at your morning schedule: are you eating a good breakfast? If not, then explore the reasons: your sleep pattern, fatigue, not enough leisure time or your daily routine responsible for your hectic morning schedule? 

There may be unresolved issues affecting your current functioning. For example, out of the blue, you get hit with the feeling of impending doom, and the world starts to get darker, leaving you feeling helpless. 

Here, deep, slow breaths will help prevent your anxiety from escalating. Once you feel calmer, you do a quick mental scan of your life.

 If you can’t find any new acute stressor, it means you’re reacting to an old stressor; a traumatic incident that happened some time ago, recovering from a severe accident or illness. If your functioning gets affected, document the time and frequency of the occurrence, and seek a follow-up.

Even though it’s easier to blame extraneous circumstances for our problems, a fundamental attribution error, this process is self-defeating in the long run. Feeling overwhelmed leads to chronic mental health issues, problems in interpersonal relationships and bad decision making.

Taking control of your momentary lapses can be rewarding and lead to a more productive day. 

This article was published in the Telegraph-Journal.

The picture is from Mind Matters A.S. Consulting;

 Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes and should not substitute for consultations with a qualified professional.

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