I had a crummy week this week. I didn’t sleep well, I was short with Grant and the kids, and I just generally felt out of it. On Thursday, I was struggling with a work issue and couldn’t figure out how to do it, so I decided to just take a break. Since I was working from home, I stripped our bed and washed the sheets. After changing all of the bedding and making the bed fresh, I felt so much better, like disproportionately much better given the task. The more I thought about it, I realized that, for me, changing our bedding is a pretty small task with big rewards. I love the smell of clean sheets, and I love the thought of climbing into a clean bed later in the evening even better. After changing the bedding, I got back to work and figured out the problem with fresh eyes. I was still tired, but the little victory with the bedding snowballed into several other “wins” the rest of the day.
Obviously, some days (or weeks) are just rough, and you have little choice but to ride them out. But the lesson of new sheets reminded me how little things can make a big difference. The secret is to find something that doesn’t take much energy, work, or preparation, but has a lopsided rate of return (as my economist husband would say). Changing the bedding didn’t really require much energy or preparation, but the upside for my mood was huge.
What are some things in your life that have this disproportionate upside? I dare you to make a list and keep it handy for those bad mood moments (or days) when you need some momentum to turn it around. Here are a few of mine if you need some ideas:
- Cleaning the countertops after dinner (something about coming into an uncluttered kitchen starts my day off so much better)
- Play a game or read with the kids. I use this trick when the kids are really bugging me. If I can force myself to play a game with them or read a book, 1) they have to sit still and 2) it gives us a chance to connect, which typically breaks the spell of my frustration.
- Three-part breath for a few minutes
- Return just one email or phone call that has been weighing on me. I tend to get overwhelmed with phone calls or emails that require a bit of time, but when I just jump in and get it done, it never is as bad as my mind had made it out to be, and it feels so good crossing it off the list
- Lifting some weights. If I can get myself motivated to do even just a few, something about lifting something heavy makes me feel strong and dispels those bad moods.
- Taking a walk outside (always, everywhere, for every problem)
Share your go-tos in the comments!