How to Stay Centered

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Somedays start off hectic. And by “some days, I mean every day.” Every week day starts off with a bang for me. I have three children in three different schools. I have to somehow get them to school or before school care and still get myself to work at a decent hour. By the way, they all start at different times, and one’s school is in another county. Then work long enough to make my minimum hour requirement. Then I’ve got to be ready for school pick ups by 2:30 and hope that I can leave work in order to go pick up the one in the other county. At least two of them can ride a bus. I’ve got that goin’ for me, right?

My morning commute can either be a breeze or a total disaster. There’s rarely an in between. I’m either stuck in a parking lot, or everything flows pretty easily. No middle-ground for the traffic gods.

How do I even survive my morning without being a total wreck? Easy. Everything in perspective.

The other morning I got an email that had some rather rattling news in it. I added that onto the camel’s back during my commute. And although it wasn’t the straw that broke said back, anything else added onto it could have. The work day wasn’t too stressful, but added just enough that I was teetering even closer to the brink of breaking. Later that night, my favorite hockey team lost. Was the universe out to get me? No. Did I feel like it? Yes.

After the rattling news I’d received via email, my husband commented later on that I was taking it quite well. “Yes,” I thought, “I am.” I was pretty surprised honestly. I never take anything that well. What’s changed?

I thought about this for the rest of the day. What has changed in my perspective that keeps me from being unshaken? Everything in perspective.

I used to have a job that came with quite a bit of stress. I worked in the medical industry, where things are literally life and death. I think five years of high stress, high stakes career experience makes you realize that if no one is dying, it’s really fine. Isn’t it? I now work in marketing and I tell you – no one is dying here. Although the occasional client certainly may think they are, their pulse and other vitals are all still okay.

My faith has also been vital in my shift of perspective. I still have everything and everyone I need. Although the world is shaking, I’ve still got my family. My husband and my children are my rocks and my faith has taught me that family is forever. My family is the only thing in life that really matters at the end of the day. If my family is okay, I can be okay. I know that God has me and that we are all in His hands.

Gratitude. I’ve been trying to show gratitude in my attitude. I know, it sounds contrite. I try to thank everyone who helps me during the day – the clerk, the cashier, the woman that holds the elevator for me; I thank them all. Genuinely. I give them a big smile and simply say, “Thank you.” We also pray as a family at meal time. We have taught our children that we need to start our prayers off with gratitude to our Heavenly Father. We say all of our thanks first before we ask for anything. When you practice gratefulness, you’ll start to see the positive before the negative.

Medication. Yes, you read that correctly. I don’t mean that there’s some sort of pill you can take that will automatically make you take bad news well. I just mean that it’s taken me awhile to get my mental health medication straight. I stay true to myself by doing my best to never miss a dose of any of my meds. I see a therapist as needed. I keep in touch with my emotions on a root level and by keeping in touch with how I’m feeling, I can better react to triggers. I try to keep in touch with my feelings and why I’m feeling how I’m feeling. Mental health absolutely matters, and medication isn’t something to be ashamed of. If I feel myself getting too worked up, I meditate. The Calm app has been a huge help to me. My husband even comments on the change in my demeanor after meditation.

I try to rationalize with myself like the toddler my inner self really is. I really wanted to fall into a heap the other day and hide because it really did feel like the sky was falling. I was Chicken Little, and the sky was falling hard. I wondered out loud what I’d done to the universe. Then I stopped. Was the universe honestly out to get me? No. Heavenly Father loves me and He has great plans for me, not to hurt me but to make me thrive. (Jeremiah 29:11) When I start spiraling into nonsensical woe-is-me thinking, I stop myself and remind myself of what the real deal is. Just like you have to level with a toddler who is upset about the sandwich you just cut into triangles instead of squares.

I know it’s harder said than done. I’m the biggest pessimist ever. Believe me. I never thought I’d get to this point. I never thought I’d be practicing gratefulness and actually enjoying it. But here I am. You can get here too. I believe in you.

Of course, the sushi date my husband took me on for lunch helped a little.