My Teeny, Tiny Resets (Or How I Handle Overwhelm)

Oct 31, 2018    /    philosophy

This morning was a tricky one.

I hadn’t slept well but couldn’t get back to sleep. The day before had been full of vet visits and health stress. And then I woke to a barrage of social media posts about terrible things happening in the world.

I’d only been up for an hour, but already I wanted to crawl back into bed, pull the covers over my head, and hide. It wasn’t even light out yet. And I couldn’t imagine how I was going to get myself together enough to write a case study–my work task for the morning.

What I needed was to start the day over.

And I thought maybe I could trick my brain into doing just that.

So I closed my computer and re-set my day. I got myself some tea and bread. I took a hot shower and re-dressed. I basically re-did my morning routine.

Then when I sat down at the computer, I kept my email and news sources closed and dove straight into the case study.

*     *     *     *     *

It sounds kind of silly when I put it all down like that, but for some reason, it works. Going back through the morning motions again pushes some sort of reset button in my mind. Walking away and coming back helps me course correct.

*     *     *     *     *

It’s actually something I’ve been doing for years.

I do it on days when I’ve got too much on my plate. After lunch, I get myself a coffee, maybe take a shower or re-curl my hair or touch up my makeup. And when I sit back down, something is different. Something inside my mind has clicked and reset.

It’s not that I’m no longer angry about the state of the world (oh, I am). It’s not that client issues or sleepless nights are magically fixed by taking another shower. But something about the action makes it possible to get over that first hurdle and start working. Something about closing the computer and starting again gives me permission to push all the thoughts jostling for my attention aside and focus on the task at hand.

In case it might work for you too, I wanted to share.

Because I think sometimes we forget, or perhaps we were never taught, that our bodies and minds are inextricably linked. When you take up physical space, your confidence rises. When you’re mentally stressed, your physical health declines. And when we physically re-set our days, maybe something mentally makes that leap with us.

If you’re struggling, give it a try.

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7 Comments
  • Heather
    October 31, 2018

    I like this idea! It’s funny when people are having a bad day and they say “I wish I could hit the reset button”… this is how you do that! It’s not just a mental reset, but physically. I think it would work. :)

    • gigigriffis
      October 31, 2018

      Thanks!

  • Monica
    October 31, 2018

    Gigi, I appreciate this so much — especially as a remote freelance writer, myself. Also, my book club just read “Presence” and so I picked up on that connection right away. Thanks for offering these suggestions. Now, off to take a shower …

    • gigigriffis
      October 31, 2018

      I actually haven’t read Presence. Would you recommend it?

  • Tracy Parker
    October 31, 2018

    Hi Gigi
    I think you are really on to something here. I was just reading this article about sleepbin the NYT talking about sleep and resetting your brain, so changing your hours, or jet lag has a similar effect. I discovered that o should change by bedtime by one hour and I’m going to try it along with your technique to see how it effects my well being.
    Big smooch to you
    Tracy
    Seattle

    • gigigriffis
      October 31, 2018

      Nice – good luck!

  • Kristen
    November 1, 2018

    Hi Gigi,

    Thank you so much for sharing this. It really has been so hard, witnessing the state of the world right now.

    Yesterday was the first day I intentionally did not open the news and read/commiserate with my boyfriend during our morning/evening time together (as I’d noticed I was ruining our good moods by doing so…gah).

    But I’d never thought about doing some of the other things you mention, like taking a shower. Such a great idea.

    Simple steps like yours help one and all. It’s what we can do.

    Warmly,
    Kristen

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