I’m having a crap day. I can’t log into the university’s idiotic timecard system. One of the students in the program did something stupid. There are various little fires in the office that need to be put out. And I have a sore throat and feel like I’m getting sick.
All of this means I’m finding it hard to focus and get anything accomplished. And all I really want to do is go home (not an option, I’m here until about 7:30 tonight) and eat an enormous bag of potato chips (that is an option–the snack shop in the student center is open; but it’s not a good option).
So what’s a harried administrator to do? Hydrate, breathe, and eat an apple. Seriously.
Breath is probably the first thing to go when we get stressed. I don’t mean that you stop breathing, of course. But I do mean that your breath becomes constricted and tight and maybe even labored. So take a minute. Sit still. Breathe in slowly and deliberately. Breathe out slowly and deliberately. Repeat. Several times. It may not work the first time. If I’m really stressed that first attempt at a deep breath is HARD. But it also demonstrates to me how constricted my breath has become. Stick with it. The slower, easier, deeper breath will come.
Now hydrate. Chances are your day is a marathon, not a sprint. So you need to fuel it properly. I am convinced that water makes everything better. And really, could it really hurt to drink a couple of glasses of water when you’re feeling stressed?
Finally, eat an apple. Or some other proxy for a healthy diet. Chances are that bag of potato chips might be satisfying in the short run, but later I’d be beating myself up about bad choices. And once I’d had the potato chips I’d figure there was no harm in a succession of poor nutritional choices. But an apple? That’s healthy. And easy. And it makes me look good. Then I can say to myself, “take that, stressful day! You tried to bring me down, but I took deep breaths, drank some water, and ate an apple.”
Some days are truly awful and perhaps irredeemable. And I won’t lie: some days absolutely require potato chips (or something stronger). And in those cases, indulge a bit, be gentle with yourself, and move on. But if you can, try to do even just one of these three things. If you do, I think the day will be at least a little bit better.