Welcome to January’s installment of Mel’s Favorite Things. ?

I’m dedicating the last post of each month to share some of my faves, from books to recipes to life hacks and beyond. Basically, if I love it (and think you might, too,) I’m gonna share it here.

This month’s ‘Favorite Things’ topic is my top ways to reduce overwhelm and restore peace when life doesn’t go as planned.

Quick backstory: I started the new year feeling excited about getting back into my daily routine after having a couple of weeks off with houseguests, eating whatever I wanted, and kids being home from school.

But as sometimes happens, a few days into January and one-by-one, my entire family (with the exception of one child) got sick. We’ve only just come back on track this week, almost 4 weeks into the month!

My dreams of starting the new year with fresh vision and neatly organized days flew out the window and I found myself battling some frustration, but also thinking about how far I’ve come in terms of re-orienting myself when things go awry. Sure, I feel overwhelmed at times, but I’m much better at regaining my sense of peace and lowering my anxiety than I used to be.

I wanted to share some of my go-to’s with you, for those times when the unexpected happens.

Here they are in no particular order.

My Favorite Ways to Reduce Overwhelm and Get Back on Track (when life throws you a curveball)

  • Press pause—when I notice that I’m feeling anxious, overwhelmed, or out of control, putting myself in a voluntary “time out” is a huge help. Even if it’s for 5min (and ideally at least 15min), I need to step away from the chaos if I want ANY chance at reorienting myself. This leads me to the next point.
  • Take ownership—when I feel overwhelmed and off track, I’m in ‘reaction’ mode. I’m not making conscious decisions as much as I am running around putting out fires or reacting to circumstances. The goal? To move out of ‘victim’ and back into ‘powerful.’
  • Ask empowering questions—Do a check-in by asking questions like the following: “What’s going on right now?” “What’s most important in this day/moment?” “Are my expectations unrealistic given the current circumstances?” “What do I need right now?” Journal them out if that helps. Steer WAY clear of questions like “Why does this always happen to me?” or “What’s wrong with me?” They’re BIG NO-NOs and will lead you nowhere good!
  • Be kind to myself—when I’m off track, I have to watch my self talk! Those of us who’ve had harsh inner critics can be susceptible to being hard on ourselves when we fall short of anything other than “perfection.” ? Consciously choosing to focus on what I’m doing well in the midst of chaos might feel silly, but it’s muy importante. If you struggle with extending self-compassion to yourself, ask this question: “What expectations would I have of a dearly loved friend in this scenario?” Then extend that grace to yourself. xx

If you find yourself struggling with unexpected life circumstances that leave you feeling overwhelmed or critical of yourself, may I make a suggestion? Print off this email (or write down the points I shared) and put it someplace where you can see it. Better yet, add your own ‘go-to’ life hacks to the list so you have a resource on hand for those pesky curveballs that we all face.