Things Helping Me to Keep My Sanity

The last part of the school year is a rough time, full of end-of-level testing, massive amounts of grading, and a general sense of “can this be over already?” from students and teachers alike. I devoted yet another whole weekend to grading just barely, and I stayed up until past eleven last night grading, too (unheard of, for me).

This is not new, or unique to this school year–you can find evidence of it here, here, and here.

In years past, I developed some coping strategies, most of which involved sugar, caffeine, and large amounts of lounging around whenever possible (and definitely a whole lot of not-making-dinner-ing).

While I’m continuing somewhat (although in moderation) with all of the above, I have also been doing a few things that are literally saving my sanity. Here’s a few of them:

1. Over spring break, I was able to get our apartment into a really tidy state, something I was able to maintain by taking 10-15 minutes before bed each night to put away Raven’s toys, clear any clutter off the countertop that had accumulated during the day, and maybe wash the few dishes by hand that hadn’t gotten done yet. Miraculously, I have somehow actually kind of stuck with this habit, and even though the apartment isn’t *quite* as clean as it was over spring break, it hasn’t even gotten close to That Crazy Point since spring break because of this simple maintenance. Finishing off my day with a tidier house and starting each morning with a space relatively free of clutter has been refreshingly calming, and exactly what I need right now. Now let’s just hope I can keep it up.

2. Even though sometimes quiet moments are few and far between, I’ve been consciously trying to take a few minutes each day (often in the shower or while doing dishes or folding laundry) to consciously reflect on what went well that day and what blessings I experienced. I always try to express a lot of gratitude in my prayers, but this additional trick of consciously reflecting over just the positive moments each day makes any lingering stress or frustration evaporate, and my prayers have gotten even more meaningful because I’ve actually been more focused on all the good things happening in my  life instead of ruminating constantly over my to-do list or letting myself be bugged by something that happened at work.

3. Along the same lines, I’ve been forcing myself to stop and take a few deep, slow breaths whenever I can feel that I’m tensed or stressed. Even just 2-3 breaths is often enough to refocus my mind and stop the endless drone of my inner whiner.

4. For perhaps the first time ever, I am more or less consistently sticking with a strength training routine (which I might do a whole post on later). It doesn’t take me very long, but because I’ve been so consistent in completing it, I’ve finally noticed some changes in my body, the first in about 3 months. Between that and calorie counting for the past month, the number on the scale has finally started dipping down again, too. I am now just one pound away from my pre-pregnancy weight and 6 pounds away from my goal weight!

5.  Along with the breathing and conscious gratitude practice, I’ve also been practicing mindfulness a lot more lately by training my mind to notice the way the hot water feels against my face in the shower or to give an embrace or kiss to Matt with my full attention behind it. Focusing on this lately has made me realize that even though I despise feeling “too busy” or “harried,” I’ve let myself act that way in almost all situations, even when I’m not. My mind still constantly tries to wander to the long list of tasks I still need to accomplish or to what on earth I’m going to teach at school tomorrow while I’m trying to be more mindful, but I am patiently making myself just meditate and focus on the moment for about 4 or 5 minutes every day, and it really does seem to make a big difference.

6. Lastly, I have been glorying in many dinners lately consisting of my favorite quick meal–avocado and melted cheese on a corn tortilla, with a little drizzle of hot sauce thrown on for good measure. Sometimes we add in shredded chicken too (like we did tonight), but any way you make it, it’s quick, easy, and perfectly scrumptious.

Anything that’s been saving your sanity lately? Please share!

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