How 3 Little Things Help Me From Getting Too Overwhelmed

Last week, I shared about some big life stuff going on in the Way house – busy jobs, moving, and baby! I’ve also discussed how I initially struggled with my New Year’s Resolutions because everything was in flux (and still is, somewhat). So, how am I doing with all that’s on my plate and how I am doing at getting it all done? Meh. Recently, most days I feel like I’m barely keeping my head above water.

Overall, life is very good to me and I try to make a point every day to remember that. Some days and moments are better than others, and I get overwhelmed so much more easily right now thanks to pregnancy hormones (for example, crying off and on for 2 hours the other night over the big move and how much there is to do, and full on crying during sad moments in movies and tv shows). So, it’s really important for me to remember to be grateful that I have everything I really need in life and so, so, so much more.

Even during the crazy moments when life is overwhelming, you spill coffee (or tea, if you’re pregnant) on yourself, your black dog went missing for a few minutes in a brand new neighborhood at night, you’re fighting with a loved one, something’s wrong at work and it’s your fault, and your bank account is lower than it’s been for years (yes, all true occurrences from my life just in the past week)…chances are that you still have something for which to be grateful. When stuff like this is going on, it can be hard to think of anything that is going well, but I promise you it’s there!

The easiest way is to spend a little bit of time every day consciously thinking of things for which we are grateful. Okay yeah…that sounds great, but who has the time?! Well, there are a few ways to do this, some of which are easier than others. It’s all about figuring out what works for you and not giving up when 1 or 2 ways don’t work for you.

Because I’m all about little ways (hence the name of this blog), I keep it short and simple. And because I’m an introvert who isn’t keen on sharing my thoughts out loud, I prefer to write it down. My method is to keep my gratitude journal. I started it almost 2 years ago in 2017 after some decluttering turned up a couple of beautiful notebooks that I couldn’t bear to get rid of. After some thinking, I decided to start a gratitude journal. Every day when I get to work, I write down 3 things for which I’m grateful while my computer is starting up and retrieving the 100 emails I need to read. Usually, I’ll walk into my office, get some hot tea from the kitchen, and write down my 3 things while the tea steeps (and the temperature cools down a little bit). Some days, it’s hard to choose only 3 things. Other days, I struggle with all 3.

my gratitude journal and cup of morning tea

On the days that I struggle, I try to think of things beyond my immediate situation (e.g., work, husband, dog). These things include:

  • I have both my legs
  • I have both my hands
  • I can use both my legs
  • I’m not sick (or, I have medicine to help me get better)
  • I have enough money to put fuel in my car
  • I have a job
  • I have a home
  • Both of my parents are still alive
  • I have health insurance
  • I have safe, clean water to drink
  • I have a full jar of emergency peanut butter in my desk
  • Ginger ale was invented and is great for nausea
  • Pinterest can help me come up with mother’s day gifts
  • I’m not worried about where I’ll get my next meal
  • I have clothes to wear
  • I have a dishwasher
  • I have a graduate degree
  • I have been able to travel
  • The sun is shining
  • The rain is coming down to water flowers
  • I woke up this morning

None of these items are probably what you think of first, but there are so many things that each of us have. If you are able to read this blog, then that means you have electricity and internet. You might not be grateful for these things on a daily basis, but you sure miss them if you don’t have them! You can also take inspiration by looking around at other people. Somebody else might have sprained her ankle and be stuck on crutches/in a boot for 3 weeks (bet you’re grateful that’s not you!), or somebody else is fighting with their spouse, or somebody else is sleep deprived for some reason. Bet you’re glad that’s not you (for now) and you should be! There is so much we take for granted and it’s easy to do that. It’s an ongoing process for me to be grateful, but it’s so important. It definitely helps me stay grounded and come back from being overwhelmed (again, pregnancy hormones have removed my emotional regulation filter, so I become overwhelmed first and then have to come back from that).

If you don’t want to write anything down because that’s just not your style, try making a point to spend some time each day consciously grateful. But, don’t spend more than 5 minutes on it! You could share 3 things with your spouse/significant other/roommate/best friend every day while you eat breakfast or dinner. You could write down your list at night. You could type your list. You could be grateful while you’re eating your morning cereal, or while you shower, or while you walk the dog, or while you drive to or from work. The main things are to be consistent, be conscious, and don’t overthink it. Keep the list to only 3 things – there are always at least 3 things for which to be grateful every single day.

Today, I’m grateful that last night’s hail storm didn’t damage either of our vehicles, that my baby is moving around a lot this morning, and that I am slowly getting through the grading for my class. What are you grateful for today?

Practicing What I Preach

Over the past year, I have shared little ways that make my life a bit easier, happier, and/or simpler. Also this past year, I finally had some free time in which I could write – I had recently finished my master’s degree, finished my professional licensing, and finished teaching a 1 credit college course. My days were spent working full-time and coming home…that’s it! No thesis to write, no papers to grade, no test to study for. It was glorious! This left me time to share some of the tips I had learned to get everything done (or prioritize what needed to get done). It also provided me with a way to record what I had learned and share it with the wider world.

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Have a Happy Birthday!

Sometime this past week, I turned one year older. And just like most years, my birthday was pretty low key…just how I like it. As we get older, birthdays tend to become less and less important. Whether it’s because we don’t want to celebrate getting another year older, we have too much going on, or maybe you just aren’t a birthday person…birthdays tend to be for the young and for the old, but not for the middle (except for your 50th). However, I completely disagree. Birthdays should be celebrated!

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New Year’s Resolutions When You Don’t Feel in Control

It’s never too late to have resolutions. Yes, we’re ¾s done with February, but better late than never! I try to follow the saying, “today is the first day of the rest of your life” (sometimes easier said than done), and so it’s absolutely fine to come up with resolutions a little after the first of the year (hey, at least we’re still in the 1st quarter). Resolutions (or goals as I tend to think of them) don’t have to be very lofty or much of a stretch. Really, the main things are that you want to accomplish them and they’re somewhat specific (so you know whether or not you achieved them). And of course, you have to write them down.

As promised, I’m sharing my 2019 resolutions with you this week. Over the past couple of weeks, I spent some time (mainly daydreaming while driving or during meetings) and came up with 14 resolutions/goals for this year. There’s nothing special about 14 – that’s just the number of resolutions I came up with. There’s also nothing special about these resolutions; they’re just things that I want to accomplish this year. Several are carryovers from previous years, but I am making a more conscious effort to have specific goals for the year instead of generic or abstract goals.

At the end of 2018, some health stuff came up and it felt really hard to come up with resolutions because a lot of stuff feels really outside of my control. I am used to being extremely active, having enough energy to do what I want, and being in control of my body. Then, over the holidays and for all of January, my job became really, really busy and I felt like I had no time. Looking forward for this year, my job doesn’t seem like it will slow down for months, maybe years. My health stuff will thankfully get a little better, but it will have lasting consequences. Can you sympathize? Do you feel like work or school or just life is taking it out of you and you don’t have control?

In writing down my goals for 2019, I realized that there really is a lot that I can control. And if you feel the same way that I did, know that you too can actually control quite a bit. For example, I realized that I could make 15 minutes to be somewhat active twice a day…by walking Way Pup. Ain’t nobody got time to workout…but I do have time to maybe give Way Pup an extra 5 minutes twice a day…and I can put on my tennis shoes for our walk instead of my boots so we can jog a little bit. Bam! There’s my activity for the day! (Even if I feel tired, at least he and I get outside for 10 minutes twice a day.) And, because Way Pup doesn’t care about the weekend, he needs this attention 365 days. I can also spend 5 minutes cleaning up my kitchen every night. And, while I’m zoning out during incredibly boring stuff, I can think about what I want to eat for lunch and buy those ingredients at the store. Those are 3 things I can control in my life.

Despite my advocacy for specific goals, there are a few abstract/nonspecific resolutions for this year. The first one is that I want to enjoy this year as much as possible. Life, in general, is hard to enjoy unless you make a conscious attempt and I have a big year of changes ahead of me. It would be so, so easy for me to put my head down and get through this year without pausing to enjoy any of it. But if I did that, then I would look up at the end of 2019 and wonder where it went. So, I want to enjoy this year and make a conscious attempt to find joy. Second, I want to be patient with myself with my health stuff. There’s nothing particularly measurable about this, but it’s something I need to be reminded of – and I will because I have my resolutions written on an oversized post-it note right under my computer screens on my desk at work!

My 2019 Resolutions are posted where I will see them all day 5 days a week

With all that said, here are my 2019 resolutions:

  1. Exercise/move 4x week (includes a good walk for Way Pup)
  2. Personal
  3. Enjoy this year as much as possible
  4. Pack healthy lunches for work
  5. Work as long as possible and work on delegating
  6. Take my full vacation/leave available from work
  7. Save $X dollars by August (goal agreed to with Way)
  8. Have Christmas Cards ready by Black Friday
  9. Take monthly photos
  10. Celebrate Way’s birthday
  11. Be patient with myself
  12. Clean the house 1x week
  13. Turn thesis into journal article by June
  14. Run 2 5k’s (1 in April, 1 in ?)

Let’s see how I do this year! I’ll do what I can to update you as the year progresses. Now it’s your turn! What are your resolutions? Did you have any that you created back in January and let slip? Now’s that chance to get back on. Are you like me and just now coming up with yours? Have you had any years when you’ve felt completely out of control? Do you still feel that way or have you managed to get a bit of control back? If you have some abstract/nonspecific resolutions, go ahead and add them – it’s totally okay to have a blend of specific goals and nonspecific resolutions. This is your list! Let me know! I’d love to get some comments!

Love is for Everyone, Not Just Couples

Happy Valentine’s Day! I Last week when I posted that I would share my New Year’s Resolutions with you this week, I completely forgot that today would be Valentine’s Day. I do have my resolutions written down and ready to go, but I’m going to save them for next week. Today, I am thinking about Valentine’s Day and love. No, not necessarily romantic love (even though that’s all very well and nice and I am hopelessly in love with my husband). I’m thinking about love in general. Love between a parent and a child. Love between friends. Love for your family. Love for your pets. Love for your job or school. Love for your hobby. Love for your neighbor. Love for other people. Self-love. There are so many ways to love and none of them should be excluded, particularly today.

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