In Under 15 Minutes

I was irritated this afternoon.  I was pissy, bitchy, frustrated and crabby.  I felt like I was on the verge of a full-fledged funk.  No, it wasn’t my period.  No, Mark hadn’t done anything.  I was out-of-sorts.

History has taught me that if I don’t get a handle on this crabbiness, it can go deep.  I didn’t have the time or patience to walk the hill.  I’m trying to be disciplined and not reach for a glass of wine.  I needed to do something quick, between helping with homework and cooking dinner.

When I was married to Mark, we had a neighbor who was a lovely lady.  I’d see her occasionally and she was always pleasant and encouraging.  I always looked harried and tired.  She didn’t have a clue about my marriage to a narcissist.  She probably assumed that I looked the way I did because I was home all day with two little kids.

She’d often look at me with kind eyes and say, “This, too, shall pass.”  Initially, I would find comfort in her words, but later I became annoyed with that expression.  I kept wondering, “Just when will this pass?  How long do I have to wait?  Can’t I speed this up a bit?”

I needed to play a more active role in getting through those episodes.

I developed an emergency list of tricks for when I feel a sour mood descending on me.  These tools are quick fixes — kind of like Zicam at the onset of a scratchy throat.  And as Jenny likes to say, “A girl needs tools!”

These simple tools can re-direct a bad mood in a hurry.

  • Get a big glass of water and drink the whole thing.  Room-temperature water goes down easier.  A lot of lousy moods are brought on by dehydration.
  • Walk outside your house, straighten your posture, take four deep breaths, stretch your arms over your head and look at the sky.  If your mood is really bad, pace up and down your sidewalk until you feel your heart pumping.
  • Grab a handful of almonds.  If I haven’t eaten a snack in a bit, I can get really crabby.  There’s no guilt involved with a handful of almonds.
  • Immerse yourself in a project.  You’ll lose track of time while the crabbiness evaporates.
  • If you have kids, kindly tell them that you need a break and that you are setting the timer for 20 minutes.  Tell them to save all questions and demands until after the timer goes off.  (This is longer than 15 minutes, but if I set the timer for 20, I’m guaranteed 15 moments of peace.
  • My grandma used to say, “If you are feeling blue, scrub the kitchen floor.”  That doesn’t mean I should take the obsessive-compulsive approach to cleaning the floor, a la Mark.  Grandma meant that if you get down on your hands and knees and start scrubbing, pretty soon your blood is pumping, you’ve forgotten what was irritating you, and you’ve tackled a job on your to-do list at the same time.

These tricks get you out of your head.

These tools get you away from whatever your brain is churning on.

In most cases, these tools address physical needs.  When the physical body is taken care of, mental health improves.  These tools  help  move the funk out the door quicker.

Last of all, my favorite trick is to go to bed when the kids go to bed, and start over the next day.

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