I hate uncertainty. Learning to be more spontaneous is one of my major life growth goals right now. But it’s also the reason I've become an expert at planning. I plan my entire day in advance, and I always have a backup plan in place. I’m used to having a plan B and C and D—just in case things don’t go according to plan.
But even with all that planning, things still go wrong. And when it rains, it pours. In fact, when I bought my apartment in New York City, I don’t think one thing went right.
We can’t always prevent bad things from happening, but we can stop them from getting us down. When I was having all my apartment drama, I found it helpful to remember the things I could control.
Yes, these are tiny, tiny things. They aren't going to magically solve all your problems. but sometimes making small adjustments that feel doable is exactly what you need to stop the slide into panic and turn your momentum in a more positive direction.
1. Eat a blueberry.
Blueberries are not only delicious, they’re also really good for you. They’re high in antioxidants, high in fiber, and low on the glycemic index. Plus a study from the University of Manchester shows that eating blueberries can help ward off degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease. Sometimes a dip in mood can be the result of low blood sugar. Snacking on a few blueberries can help to even you out and give you the energy to get on with your day.
2. Stretch out.
A minute may not be enough time to go for a run, but you can still get a little workout while you sit at your desk. Exercises like chair squats or desk push-ups are a great way to get your blood flowing again. There’s also a book called Happy Go Yoga that gives you moves to do on the go. Even a few small exercises will get your endorphins flowing again.
When you’re scribbling away on a piece of paper it may seem like a waste of time. But a study published in the journal Applied Cognitive Psychology has found that doodling helps you to focus and improves your memory. So feel free to doodle away at your next meeting. I find that when I’m overwhelmed, doodling can give me a mental release. That leads to more positive and creative thought.
4. Make a cup of tea.
I love tea! I’m practically obsessed. And for a good reason. Tea can help to reduce stress, lower blood pressure, and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. When I’m having a rough day, sometimes I just need to take a break. A nice, hot (or iced) cup of tea gives me a moment to reflect and move on from whatever is getting me down and appreciate the moment.
5. Look at cute animals.
Animals are adorable, and they are also good for your productivity! Researchers at Hiroshima University have found that looking at cute pictures or videos of animals trigger caregiving impulses, which can improve your work performance. That’s because you’re more likely to be attentive. I suggest checking out CatsvsCancer.org because as you’re watching cute cat videos and increasing your productivity, you’re also helping to raise money to fight cancer. Just try to be sad while you watch cute cat videos! Tell me how that goes.