No one wakes up thinking, “I sure hope I have a meltdown in the middle Kmart today,” But these things happen despite our best intentions to living a sane and serene life. Stress, worry and anxiety build up as we go through our days, and each new negative stimulus decreases our ability to react in a calm and rational way.
But thankfully, there’s a way to get through your day serenely from start to finish by building an arsenal of perspective and gratitude, and deftly avoiding the negative impact of stressful interactions. Here’s an hour by hour guide:
7:30 am: Wake with gratitude: Even if you have a challenging day ahead, remember that you’re well and living in a safe place – not everyone in the world can say that. Reach over and give your spouse, kid, dog, cat a big kiss. And if you’re alone, be grateful that no one was snoring or stealing your blankets all night.
7:40 am: Drink a big glass of water: Our bodies are at our most dehydrated first thing in the morning which can make you feel irritable or foggy.
8:00 am Eat a healthy breakfast: Remember hunger leads to temper tantrums. So fuel your body with what it needs to perform properly.
8:30 am: Take the road less traveled – Years ago I commuted through Penn Station — a mecca for racing oblivious hordes knocking into me. By the time I got to my desk I was shaken, angry and worn out. Then someone suggested I get off the subway a stop early. That banished a huge portion of my resentments for the day. So if your commute takes you down a road full of potholes, or on a gridlocked street, try a different route. It might be longer, but it could save you a ton of grief.
9:00 am: Tackle what frightens you most first – We all know that one task we’re dreading. Maybe it’s calling your health insurance, going to the bank, or taking inventory. Whatever it is, do it early in your day so it won’t take up space in your head…plus you’ll start the day with a great sense of accomplishment!
10:30 am: Extend an olive branch – We all work with that annoying person who vexes us at every step. Whether it’s your boss, your colleague or the jerk in the mailroom, take the high road. Bring them a cup of coffee or a muffin for no reason. When we do something nice for others, our feelings towards them change and we feel better about ourselves.
11:00 am: Stretch – Get up, take a walk or just do some stretches by your desk. Get your blood moving to avoid annoying aches and pain and lift your energy and spirit.
12:00 pm: Eat a healthy lunch – Besides the needed fuel, the simple act of this essential self-care will boost your mood.
2:00 pm: Participate don’t judge – During that endless staff meeting, if you find yourself growing impatient with the same pointless babble and the tireless self-promotion, instead of getting angry, change the conversation. Raise your hand and speak about what matters to you. If an impromptu contribution is not appropriate, take notes on what you’d like to say and ask to be added to the next agenda. Stay solution-oriented to keep positive.
3:30 pm: Take stock of what matters most – Keep photos of loved ones around your desk or on your phone. When the going gets tough and you feel like you may not make it through the day, just focus on their happy, loving faces for an instant dose of serenity.
5:00 pm: Leave work on time – If you haven’t procrastinated and you’ve accomplished the difficult stuff early, you should be able to exit. But if you’re totally crunched, set reasonable boundaries and limits. Remember this is your job and you’re choosing to be there. Feeling like a victim will crush serenity.
6:00 pm: Sweat off the Stress – go to the gym or take a long walk to let off steam and feel those fabulous endorphins instead. Don’t bring that negative energy into the sanctuary of your home.
7:00 pm: Focus on your friends and family – as soon as you walk through the door greet the ones you love. Ask about their day, have something good to report about yours. Take in the love.
7:30 pm : Eat a healthy satisfying dinner – relax, savor, chew your food and be grateful for your meal.
8:30 pm: Do something you really enjoy – take a bubble bath, call a friend, play with the dog, knit, watch a show about muscle cars, whatever. Cherish your precious free time.
9:30 pm: Organize and pick up – put away the dishes and dirty clothes, select your clothes for the next day. Answer a few important emails or sort the snail mail. Make sure that everything is in order and you’ll be able to sleep more soundly.
10:30 pm: Power down – turn off the TV, stop surfing the net or trolling social media. The light emitted from electronic devices mimics sunlight and will keep you awake. Practice a consistent bedtime routine.
11:30 pm: Go To sleep – Eight hours of restorative sleep is perhaps the best way to stay calm, relaxed, healthy and ready to take on a serene new day.