Dr. Jekyl vs. Ms. Hyde . . . Four Minutes That Could Make the Difference

It had been a particularly hard week, and it was only Wednesday. I felt overwhelmed and pulled in too many directions. Sound familiar? I was lashing out at people around me and thinking in curse words. (Don’t tell me you’ve never gotten to the point where you’re so frustrated you’re thinking in curse words). I got home, and still had so many loose ends of things to do, I just ended up walking back and forth aimlessly, not really getting anything done.

Whoa.

I paused for a second and thought, “Seriously, girl, get yourself together.” I stopped, walked into our second bedroom/office space, and sat down in the armed faux leather desk chair. Stopping what I was doing and taking a break was the last thing I needed to do that day. I had deadlines. And time was ticking away. But I did. I stopped. And what I did from there gave me enough peace and focus that I was then able to pick up where I left off in a much more sane version of myself.

I did accomplish everything I needed to that evening, and I credit that accomplishment to the moment I decided to stop.

So I will share with you what I did that day, and what I try to do every time I get to that point. In fact, I try to catch myself BEFORE I get to that point so I don’t have to go through that insanity again. So, for what it’s worth, here’s what I learned to do that day.

Stop.

I had so so SO much to do, the last thing I needed to do was stop. Maybe you feel that way too sometimes. Maybe you feel like that right now, but you’re reading this blog anyway. Good for you. The thing is that by the mere fact of realizing I NEEDED to stop and refocus, I was already on my way to recovery from the crazy I had become that day. Acknowledging you need to STOP is the first step. Then do it. It can be in a quiet corner, in your car, in a bathroom, wherever you can find a spot to be left alone for a few minutes. Just stop.

Close your eyes.

Wherever you find yourself, if you can safely do so, close your eyes. (Please, not while driving.) Shut everything out around you. This is what I did. Even though I was surrounded by laundry and groceries and emails and bills and a house to clean and . . . so much. I closed my eyes and shut all of that out.

Breathe.

I took a deep breath. A really deep breath. And while I did that, I focused on my breathing. What was my body doing? My lungs were expanding, my rib cage was opening and closing, my shoulders dropped, my hands just sat gently in my lap. I let the breath out slowly. I made myself go completely into myself, shutting out everything around me, and just focusing on what my body was doing while I took that deep breath.

Go somewhere in your mind.

Be it temporary, I knew I needed an escape. I have an upcoming trip to Paris, so that’s where I went in my mind. (Stay tuned to travel with me on my solo journey in June!). I pictured what it would feel like to be standing at the base of the Tour de Eiffel. I pictured what it would be like to walk the endless halls of the Louvre. What it would be like to sit at a cafe table outside sipping on a cafe’ in the early morning light.

Breathe again.

And I took more deep breaths. I could almost feel the Parisian air in my lungs; hear the lilting French of two lovers walking by; see the glimmering sun on the leaves of the trees; hear the water splashing in a fountain near me. And I took a few more deep breaths.

Open your eyes.

When I opened my eyes, I felt like I had been transformed into a different person. Not the crazy, harried, chicken-with-my-head-cut-off person, but a much calmer, saner version of me. I looked around me and actually laughed out loud at the fool I had made of myself running around like that.

Make a plan and get going.

While I was sitting there, I took a piece of paper, made a list and made a plan to accomplish my goals that day. I only wrote down the things I knew I could get done; the rest would have to wait. The list was much more manageable than the one I had in my head earlier, and by the end of the evening I was able to cross off the last thing.

That whole scenario took a grand total of about four minutes. In four minutes, I saved the evening for myself. I was able to refocus, get things accomplished, and more importantly, I saved my husband from the crazy version of me that he would have gotten had I stayed on the other track. That, in itself, was worth every one of those four minutes.

So the next time you’re heading toward one of those “crazy version of me” moments, catch yourself, make a conscious decision to stop, and go through these steps. It may or may not yet, but what have you got to lose? Maybe four minutes.

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