Sometimes, we have a five-year plan. Other times, we’re just wondering if we can survive the next hour. And we all need help when life is one day at a time.
In that will-I-make-it-through-the-day phase after divorce, I made a little checklist for myself. Actually, that’s not quite true because my brain was too all over the place to make a checklist. What I actually had was sort of a checklist in pieces, random thoughts jotted down on sticky notes and placed where I would see them.
These notes contained reminders of things that I needed to do each day. In the beginning, they were exceptionally simple:
- feed the cat
- feed yourself
But after a few zombie-like weeks, I started to broaden my horizons a little more. Even though I was still stumbling my way through the days and crying myself through the nights, I wanted more.
I wanted to thrive, not just survive.
More sticky note reminders were made and refined over time. By the time I started to find my groove, these are the prompts I was left with:
When life is one day at a time, every day…
Complete something that makes you feel accomplished.
This can be something as small as doing a load of laundry or even feeding the cat. Complete one task that leaves you feeling lie you got something done at the end of the day.
Engage in something that increases your heart rate.
Feeling like you have to exercise when you’re still struggling to get out of bed is a tall order. Instead, make the goal small enough that choosing the stairs over the elevator means that you’ve met it.
Find something that decreases your heart rate.
When we’re stressed, our bodies often reflect our inner turmoil. Take the time to breathe for just a few moments and try to allow yourself to relax.
Seek out something that reminds you to be grateful.
I promise there’s always something. We often just need a reminder to look for it. Bonus points if you start writing them down.
Do something that you don’t want to do.
On some days, this could be making a call to the lawyer. On other days, it’s simply getting out of bed.
Do one thing just because you want to.
Hit the snooze button on the alarm. Watch your favorite trashy TV. Eat that piece of chocolate.
Speak to at least one human.
There were days that I went inside the gas station instead of paying at the pump just to accomplish this prompt. I never regretted those moments of human contact, no matter how brief.
There’s a big world out there. And sometimes we need the reminder.
It’s been almost 13 years since I first made these daily promises to myself and yet I still follow the basic guidance I wrote to myself all those years ago. Those little reminders have held my hand through those moments when life is one day at a time and have helped me end so many days on a better note than how it started.