I have a problem that I’m guessing you might have too.
I get so caught up “taking care of things” that I forget to take care of myself. And then I get cranky. And my family feels it. And it really takes the fun out of things.
But I’ve figured out a solution that TOTALLY works. Every time.
It’s called my Stabilizing Mechanism. And I kind of feel ridiculous posting a picture of it, but in two separate interactions with close friends, I opened my planner to show them how it works, and they both asked to take pictures.
So here you go:
The images represent the following:
– Scripture study
– Healthy food
– Time with my loved ones
– A shower
– A mood log (written exercise based on the work of Dr. David Burns)
– Time to talk on the phone with a friend
– A good book to read
– Time to think
– A doable task list
I keep this on a sticky note in my planner (and the reason I use little drawings instead of a written list is because Nancy Duarte, author of Resonate, taught me that our brains think in pictures. I totally see that). And to give you a feel for how I use this list, I’ll describe what happened just this morning.
Our family completed our move to a new home last night. We’re living out of boxes, eating whatever we can find in our kitchen, staying up super late, and working long hours to fix up the house, create order, and establish new systems for our family.
We’ve kind of exhausted ourselves over the past few weeks.
I woke up this morning after just a little bit of sleep and had to hurry to call two repair shops, get three of my children packed and off to their week-long youth camps with church, figure out the laundry situation, handle some important emails, and complete a bunch of other little tasks that “desperately” needed my attention.
At one point in the morning, when I realized I’d completely forgotten an important, time-sensitive task, I lost it.
My brain couldn’t take it anymore, and I sat in the corner of my room and had a total meltdown.
Of course that was the perfect time to text Eric and tell him all about it–what a failure I was, how I couldn’t possibly get my feet under me, etc., etc.
But then I remembered my Stabilizing Mechanism.
Its main purpose is to keep me stable–before I even get close to a meltdown. But it also pulls me OUT of the craziness, which is why I love it so much.
Essentially, it’s a “Routines Checklist”–a simple way to review all the little things that help me to feel calm and on my game. I opened my planner and realized that I hadn’t done ANY of these this morning.
Guessing you saw that coming.
Why do we sometimes wait until we are depleted in every area before we do something about it?
Well, I kicked myself into gear, and at the end of the night, Eric asked, “So how are you doing now?”
“Great!” I responded. “I did a bunch of things on my Stabilizing Mechanism, and I’m actually feeling fantastic.”
He then tentatively said, “It kind of reminds me of that movie, 50 First Dates.”
“Because I feel great tonight, and then tomorrow I will totally forget, and we’ll have to start this process all over again?” I asked–kind of laughing, but secretly feeling a little sorry for my husband.
“You have no idea…” he replied–with his teasing/serious voice. (He is a very patient man….)
So here’s my goal for this week–and I thought you might like it too:
I am going to remember to look at my Stabilizing Mechanism every day, and I’ll plan my day accordingly–taking care of myself way before I’m about to have a meltdown.
Yes, it seems like we “don’t have time” for all of this, and realistically, we don’t need ALL of these things every single day.
But when we can accurately identify what we need in order to thrive, create a simple checklist using pictures that our brain can quickly scan, and then implement those routines, the results are staggering.
Here’s to all of us being super happy this week–and onward.
(Give it a try–and then report back in the comments section!)