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I Need a Minute

There are times when you are in the thick of a terrible situation, when you just “can’t be.” You’re disintegrating, you can’t stop crying, you can’t breathe, you can’t think clearly, you can’t do whatever it is you need to do in your life, whether it’s working outside or inside your home, taking care of your children or caring for an infirm loved one. When I’ve been in that place my goal is to metaphorically slap myself in the face, snap out of it and move forward. To do that, I need space so I can calm down.

Here’s my approach:


I go to a place where I can be alone for a few minutes and say out loud, in a low voice, “I’m OK, I’m OK, I’m OK.” I say it over and over. It could be the sound of my voice or the distraction of the repetition of the phrase that diverts me. This exercise definitely relates to what I spoke of in an earlier chapter. Whatever is happening, we’re still here and no matter what, tomorrow will come. I realized years ago, that in the end, everything eventually works out somehow. It may not work out the way you had hoped. Though it surely can - remember when I told you about getting a promotion that seemed certain wouldn’t happen? 


Here are my next steps:


Follow my breath. As I’m breathing in and out, I visualize the oxygen moving through my body. It’s just regular breathing, not deep breaths. You have to concentrate hard on this to stay focused on your breath.

Fixate on something.  I once had a tiny metal man on a swing on my desk at work. I’d watch the man swinging. I watch cars going by outside my window. I listen to the footsteps around my office. There is always something to fixate on.

Delete emails. We all have hundreds of unwanted emails sitting in our inbox. I tap, tap, tap at the delete key to remove scores of emails. I don’t think about anything else as I do this. Just keep tapping away. It’s productive and distracting.

Go outside. I take a walk and focus on activities happening around me - people, cars, animals. Have you ever run around in the rain? Try it!

Clean my home. Cleaning and organizing are incredibly distracting. Bringing order to my home also serves an important function - it helps me to be happy. A sense of clean and order in my home is calming.


Call someone. Depending on your situation and your circle of family and friends, this could actually be the first thing you do. It’s almost never the first thing I do. But if you have a family member or friend who you think will be rational and help you move forward, by all means, call them. But don’t call someone who’s negative or will inspire you to do something rash. Bottom line: do what feels right to you. If speaking with someone is the only thing that will calm you down or if you need help deciding what to do right away to avoid a situation getting worse, pick up the phone.


These are just a few ideas. Perhaps some may work for you.


Consider strategies of your own, then jot them down and keep the list handy.

next chapter this way

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