So many of us wake up, in the comfort of our own bed, mentally reviewing the day ahead of us, get overwhelmed, frustrated, anxious or depressed and roll over, never setting foot on the floor. We allow the chatter in our minds from the past set the tone for today before ever giving us a chance and opportunity to succeed.
So how do you overcome these very real emotions and thoughts to face the day ahead?
The ritual below has saved my life more times than I can count. During my darkest days, I put my body on auto-pilot and just stood up. I would listen to the voices in my head tell me all the reasons why today was going to suck and I just kept moving.
One foot in front of the other.
Before I knew it I was in the shower. I didn’t always feel better at this point, however, I did start to feel as though there was some purpose in my movement. I proceeded to brush my teeth, comb my hair, get dressed and get in my car.
Sometimes that was all it took. My mood would be elevated or I would find purpose in the first task of the day. Sometimes it wasn’t. If my mood hadn’t changed, I would continue to engage in an internal dialog with myself as I drove to breakfast.
Eating breakfast is also a significant part of my ritual. It gives me a moment in the morning to capture my thoughts, clear out my emails, journal, drink coffee or just sit there agreeing with my inner voice on why today was going to be terrible…I learned not to force a change in mood or thought. I learned not to judge myself at this exact moment.
I learned to focus on making lists to start quieting my mind.
When I am really overwhelmed I would write until I couldn’t think of anything else to write. Everything made the list — personal tasks, work tasks, goals and dreams, things I needed to buy for my house, things I wanted to research to name a few.
I started to move into creating gratitude lists as my recovery expanded. I have learned that the inner voice in my head is easily influenced and acts like a teenager to peer pressure. As long as I exert any pressure on them I find that I can typically move them in a new direction.
When the day ahead is overwhelming I find that it is typically what I am focusing on that is creating the triggering feelings. Rather than spending countless hours trying to identify the exact cause, I accept the feelings as they are, and focus on what I am able to control.
My gratitude list has begun to shift my attention away from what might be overwhelming me onto what I am grateful for. I have learned over time that many of my gratitude’s cannot be taken away! I have also re-wired my brain to be positive before negative.
So what have I learned and why does it work?
I can’t take credit for the following quote, though I would love to as I live it daily! I have learned that:
“You can do less in a day than you think and more in a year than you think!”
You have NO idea of what you are capable of if you allow your brain to prevent you from moving forward! Stop judging yourself — sometimes the most significant thing you will do in a day is get out of bed — and that’s perfect!
Remember, doing one small thing at a time is how progress is made! Goals are achieved one step at a time!
Originally published at medium.com