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.

Continue reading

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!

Continue reading