As Al Anon says. “JUST FOR TODAY I will try to live through this day only, and not tackle all my problems at once. I can do something for 12 hours that would appall me if I felt that I had to keep it up for a lifetime.”
Out of all the words of wisdom that I’ve been blessed to receive in my life, “one day at a time (ODAT)” is the one I use the most. Sometimes, It’s, “one hour at a time!” It’s a great tool for addressing addictions as well as anxiety.
If you are prone to worry, this technique is extremely beneficial. Although you may not have been a worrier in the course of your life, divorce has a way of making anxiety applicable for everyone who experiences it. With all the changes that occur, uncertainty and stress are heightened and the brain responds by activating the amygdala (the “fight or flight” mechanism geared to keep us safe). And hello anxiety!
The objective of ODAT living is to do what you can today and let the rest go. Try these tools:
- Learn mindfulness (living in the moment) to keep yourself present.
- Make a rule for yourself that catastrophizing about the future is not allowed.
- Every morning, write a list for things to do today. If at day’s end you don’t complete it, they will simply go on your list tomorrow. Writing things down prevents thought perseveration that stems from fear of forgetting. Once written, you can put them out of your mind. (If you have trouble sleeping, try leaving a notepad on your night table).
Don’t borrow trouble from tomorrow. (Today will have enough of its own). Just deal with what’s right in front of you. Who knows what tomorrow will bring?!
Instead of thinking about all the tasks and changes to address during this divorce, promise yourself that you will do ONE positive thing every day (i.e.: exercise, don’t drink, spend five minutes giving yourself positive affirmations, write in a Gratitude Journal) If you do this, you will build a string of days (one day at a time) to healthier, happier living.
Deirdre Shaffer, MSW, LCSW