5 Ways to Push the Restart Button on Your Day

Anytime I go shopping, I find myself wishing that life had the same “ctrl+find” shortcut that my laptop does. To be able to track down random objects like command hooks or clothes pins in a superstore as effortlessly as finding words on a webpage would be life changing, not to mention the convenience of locating lost car keys, phone chargers and umbrellas.  

Another computer function that would greatly improve my everyday life is the restart button.  I’m not a techy person, so whenever I have issues with my computer, my solution is to restart it — to stop what I’m doing, shut it down and give it a few minutes to rest before turning it on again. Ninety percent of the time, this works: Whatever problem I had is solved through restarting. Wouldn’t it be amazing if solving our personal issues was as easy as pressing a button?  

While life doesn’t contain a restart shortcut, there are certain things that can help us refresh and recalibrate when we feel sluggish, have trouble completing a task, or are discombobulated in one way or another. Here are a few practices akin to hitting the reset key:

1. Take deep breaths, pray, or meditate for two minutes

Quieting your mind and grounding yourself through spiritual practice of any variety pushes the pause button on anxious, frustrated and confused thoughts. It’s a way to stop what isn’t working and clear the air to begin again, this time from a more centered place. If you don’t know where to begin, try a guided meditation.

2. Write a thank you note

Taking a minute to remember the things we appreciate can work wonders on resetting our minds and hearts, and writing a thank you note is a tangible way to practice gratitude. A variation on this exercise is to offer positive feedback — a review on Yelp, a phone call to a store manager, or a graciously completed comment card — for good service that you’ve received. It always boosts my mood to remember the thoughtful and generous competence of strangers, and the bonus is knowing that I’ve made someone else’s day brighter (who doesn’t like to receive positive feedback?!).  

3. Brush and floss your teeth

Okay, this one might strike others as odd, but in my experience, there’s nothing like having fresh, minty breath to make me feel instantly more awake, alert, and ready to face life. One of my high school teachers often extolled the merits of dressing well for school, stating “look good, feel good, do good.” I agree with this sentiment, but sometimes, looking good feels like a stretch. In these cases, brushing my teeth does the trick. (Bonus: the scent peppermint triggers alertness).  

4. Complete the easiest task on your to-do list

Sometimes looking at a long to-do list makes me want to do nothing more than crawl back into bed. The magnitude of certain tasks can be overwhelming! But, accomplishing even just one item from the list makes me feel capable, and gives me the energy to move on to more difficult tasks.

5. Get outside

Fresh air, physical movement, and sunshine are just a few of the things you’ll gain from taking yourself outside, all of which have the potential to energize you and delight your senses. Taking a walk with a friend, doing yard work, or finding an outdoor bench to sit on for a few minutes are all inexpensive (free!) and simple ways to take advantage of the many benefits that being outside can provide for your physical and mental health.  

Like our computers, tablets and phones, sometimes we become overstimulated, frazzled, lethargic and in need of a restart. These techniques have helped me stop what I’m doing and begin again. Now I just need to figure out a “ctrl+find” replacement in my life.  

Originally published on March 25, 2019.

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Teresa Coda is a writer and psychotherapist in southern Pennsylvania. Find more of her writing at teresacoda.com.