Do you ever find yourself waking up super early, like at 5:30 or 6:00?
Yes, that’s the time. The time when you’ve decided, ‘Today, I will rise before the sun! And I will bust ass and get stuff done!’
Okay, maybe you don’t do that. But maybe sometimes you do! And on that rare occasion, isn’t it nice? You get up and see the early morning sun, and say, “My god it’s been a long time since I’ve seen this!”
And yet, sometimes when you do this, it doesn’t all go according to plan.
Maybe, instead of getting stuff done, like that cool new garden project, what you’re met with instead is a cacophony of youthful, high-pitched screams which shatter the grandiose plans of an early morning workout.
Each urgent request of a child demanding your undivided attention and shattering the golden silence of a new day. Maybe they are crying for crayons, or wailing over a wet bed, or they are just desperate for the familiar comfort of your lap. Your sanctified solitude suddenly shifts to chaos, and all at once, you find yourself caught in a tempest of stress, your heart pounding and mind racing.
This morning, your victory is not measured by the triumph of a workout completed but by a moment of self-awareness, a moment where you realize you’re standing in the eye of the storm. And it’s time for some self-therapy.
Remember the Netflix movie “Stutz?” Yeah, what happened in that?
He said, to get yourself back to “reality”, and to get out of the “maze” of stress, that you should start “stringing beads together”. One bead might mean journaling. The other bead might be taking a walk. The other bead might be talking to a loved one. The other bead might be taking a hot bath.
The concept, though, is that you get moving and start taking small actions! And once you get one, you string together another!
Your beads could be anything as simple as the rhythmic tapping of a pen, the steady pacing of your feet, the deep breaths drawn from your diaphragm, or the soothing repetition of a mantra. The physical engagement helps to shift your brain away from its current state of arousal, allowing for a calming release.
Of course, there are numerous other methods to navigate these stress-induced storms. Some might recommend mindfulness and meditation, techniques as time-honored as the rising sun. These practices require that we sit in silence, feeling our bodies, watching our thoughts pass by, and bringing our awareness to the present moment.
Others might find solace in physical exertion. Remember, you had planned a workout? It doesn’t have to be lost. Modify it. Even in the midst of your children’s chaos, a few minutes of push-ups or a quick set of jumping jacks could do wonders. Jumping into a cold shower – just in and out – is huge.
Physical exercise releases endorphins, nature’s stress busters, which help to lift your spirits.
And back to that journaling idea, too! Penning down your thoughts, frustrations, and anxieties gives them a physical space to exist outside of your head. Like the beads in “Stutz,” writing provides a tactile experience that can help you acknowledge your stressors and then let them go. Three pages work for a lot of people – they call them the “Morning Pages” coined by Julia Cameron in her book “The Artist’s Way”. Just keep that pen moving!
Here are some more quick tips:
- Take a power nap
- Check out the app “Moodnotes” to help you reframe what is going on
- Getting a therapist is something that we all deserve – because life is too hard without this teammate
- Simply making your bed to start the day activates neurons that you are in control
- Focus on what you are grateful for. Here’s a great video:
This is a great way to start your day!
Simply holding your hands toward the sky and smiling for a minute has been shown to vastly increase how you feel!
Perhaps, most importantly, accept the stress. Embrace it as a part of your human existence. Your stressors are transient, as ephemeral as the early morning fog. They do not define you, they merely visit you.
So, as the new day begins, rather than allowing the cacophony of life to drown you, let the music play. Dance with the stressors, for they are the stepping stones to a better understanding of yourself and your resilience.
Each bead of stress you let go brings you a step closer to harmony, to that symphony of existence where you’re neither dominated by stress nor entirely devoid of it, but are rather in a resilient dance with it.
And remember, no matter how early you wake, no matter how loud the chaos gets, the key to navigating stress always lies within your reach. You just need to find your beads.
John Michaels, a Missoula native and author, has been captivating readers with his writing for years. A graduate of Brown University’s esteemed creative writing program, Michaels has spent the majority of his career crafting stories that resonate with his readers and capture the essence of the human experience. Despite the demands of raising children, Michaels has continued to pursue his passions, finding solace in the bustling downtown Missoula scene. There, he spends his free time honing his craft, whether it be working on short stories, playing music, or dedicating himself to his work at Sunflower Counseling, MT.