I had a terrible day yesterday. I won’t go into details, but it would have rivaled Alexander’s terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day that Judith Viorst tells about. So, like Alexander, I was tempted yesterday to move to Australia. This morning, I woke up with a hangover … from yesterday’s mood. I did not want another day like that, so I determined something that has actually become a cornerstone of my fight against depression: I determined to have a day of tranquility.
Now, I’m blessed at the moment to have a house to myself (even though I miss my kids a lot, let’s make the best of it, shall we?) and I work from home, so I have a lot of control over my environment at the moment. Not everyone has that. And I don’t usually, but right now I do, and I figure I should not only take advantage of it, but I should also build some good habits during this time.
So today … tranquillité.
A tranquil lake has no waves. It’s smooth and quiet. Ripple-free. There are no highs and no lows.
No, this isn’t real life … at least normally. But it’s kind of a reset button for me. I do my normal chores. I unload the dishwasher, sweep the floor, run a load of laundry, but I do it quietly and slowly and smoothly. No jolting, running, or taking steps 2 at a time. I work my 8 hours of transcribing medical reports, but I don’t allow myself to get stressed by the doctor who talks with his mouth full or the one who is so exhausted by surgery that she slurs her words. And when I have the opportunity, I breathe.
I find more relaxing ways to do things when I’m practicing the discipline of tranquility — because it really is a discipline; I have to make myself be tranquil. I need to study for a couple hours each day, so I took my work outside, sat in a camping chair in the sun for 20 minutes and then moved into the shade. When I took my shower, I spent another 20 minutes relaxing in the tub, reading a book I haven’t read in over 30 years, one that had been a favorite back then.
On a day of tranquility, I make a special effort to eat simply and healthily … a bowl of blueberries and strawberries was breakfast. Juice and salad compose my other meals and I’ll snack on a cantaloupe. Stretching and yoga help me stay focused, and I will probably go for a bike ride in the evening. Throughout the day, I make an effort to intentionally relax my facial muscles … and this, surprisingly, goes a long way toward helping me feel tranquil.
Part of tranquility is giving myself a break from the assault on my senses. I allow silence to rule my home. I even keep my thoughts quiet, training my mind to leave worrisome topics alone for the day and focus on things which are more serene. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” Philippians 4.6. When something that upset me yesterday pops into my mind, I immediately take it to God and thank Him ahead of time for His answers. (It would be nice if I could get into this habit all the time.)
This is not a normal day. I want to make that abundantly clear. Although it would probably be nice to always live in a state of tranquility, my life, my responsibilities … heck, my personality … do not allow me to take up residence there. But sometimes, when I’m alone and when I need to reset, it’s something I savor, and now I’m happy living in Minnesota, and no longer thinking of moving to Australia.