Beginning a New Week: A Strategy for Calm

Monday is on the horizon.

For many of us, that understanding can be accompanied by a since of dread, even when we enjoy our work. Since the pandemic began, my weekends have become what they always should have been — time to relax and recharge. I spend a lot of time outdoors. In the garden. Feeding the birds. Fishing. Reading on the patio. It is typically calm and peaceful.

Enter the work week.

Even with the best laid plans it typically takes less than an hour for me to feel as if I have been thrown into a swirling pit of chaos, problems, and decisions. If I’m not careful, my day can spin out of control and five o’clock rolls around, leaving me dazed, confused, and unsure about what just happened.

However, I am finally beginning to understand the power of the pause. Taking small moments throughout the day to step back, seek out the positive, refocus, and just breathe. These brief breaks are often the difference between finishing the day stressed, or with a sense of peace.

I think this strategy was most eloquently expressed by C.S. Lewis.

It comes the very moment you wake up each morning. All your wishes and hopes for the day rush at you like wild animals. And the first job each morning consists simply in shoving them all back; in listening to that other voice, taking that other point of view, letting that other larger, stronger, quieter life come flowing in. And so on, all day. Standing back from all your natural fussings and frettings; coming in out of the wind.

For me, coming in out of the wind means I began my day with my iced cold brew coffee. I sit quietly in the living room and read a little C.S. Lewis and Henri Nouwen. Each weekday I write a prayer (this is my form of journaling), I read through my pray list, and I review my Prayer for the New Week (linked here, if you are so inclined). I spend a few minutes sitting mindfully (I use the Headspace app), and then it’s off to work.

I have started setting timers throughout my day as reminders that it is time to “come in out of the wind.” When the timer goes off, I take a few deep breathes. I remind myself of the purpose of my work. I think about some of the things that have gone well during the day — seeking out small wins. Sometimes, if circumstances permit, I listen to a brief guided mindfulness session on Headspace. Sometimes, I’ll take a moment to write down the next thing (only one thing) that I am going to do on a note card, or Post-It.

The purpose of the pause is for me to remember that while I may not control all of the circumstances of my day, I do have the ability to slow things down, reflect, and redirect my thinking. I am not powerless. Even in the most turbulent of circumstances I can choose to remain calm.

As a worrier-at-heart, slowing down is not easy. It requires a lot of effort (thus all the alarms on my phone) and I am still very much in the process of rewiring my brain to make this a more fluid process. However, I am getting better. I am building the small habits and appreciation for the little things in life that make my days more productive and more enjoyable.

Everyone is different, so my strategies may not work for you? How do you do to “come in out of the wind?”

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