What to Do When You Don’t Know What to Do

9 Strategies for Getting Through Minute-at-a-Time Days

And some of those minutes can be difficult to navigate. Our minds—or our hearts—are racing. We’re at loose ends. We have nothing scheduled. 

We all have jangled, disjointed, difficult days. Some of us have heard the advice to take it a day at a time. But then there are the days that are sooo impossibly long and difficult that we have to take it a minute at a time.

Rather than wringing our hands, or, worse, finding our way to old, unhealthy behaviors, let’s look at 9 basic types of activity to choose from that are not only healthy in and of themselves, but also help us build new, healthy habits for the long haul.

Please note: These are behavioral strategies that comprise only one part of a multi-faceted approach to mental health. They will not cure or treat any condition and I make no claim that they will. Please get adequate medical, psychiatric, psychological, social, and physical support in your efforts to feel better and be well.

1. Distract yourself

When used as as coping skill, it’s okay. Taken to extremes and it becomes avoidance. Consider watching a video or reading a light novel. When you’ve played that out, and before it becomes your next obsession, move on to #2.

2. Get your body moving

Just get up and move. Stretch, breathe, turn around. Do some light exercise, jump around or put on music and dance. When you’ve shaken off the jangles from your body, move on to #3.

3. Improve something

Clean out a junk drawer. Get rid of clothes that are past due, take a library book back, write a letter to the editor. Can’t quite get into it? Maybe you need #4.

4. Get a brain re-frame

Anything to switch you brain to the “on” position helps. Studies have shown that humming actually increases feelings of well-being. Also: Try speaking only good* or smiling, two other things that change your brain chemistry for the better.

5. Practice your spirituality

Sometimes all we have to do is lean into the blank spaces and turn them into an opportunity to quiet and connect with something greater. Anything goes: write a prayer or simply light a candle.

6. Do some self-care

We can get back into our bodies and change the mental channel by attending to basic self care. Don’t under-estimate brushing your teeth, taking a shower, and eating something.

7. Engage your creativity & humor

Pick up the guitar and play. Write or draw. Make a card for someone. Or knit them a scarf. This one can also double as a distraction technique (See #1).

8. Spend time in nature

So many activities in this category also get your body moving and help you connect with your spirituality. In addition to just breathing some air and checking out the sky, try: identifying plants, bird-watching, and looking for what’s growing between the cracks in the pavement.

9. Connect & express

This one does double duty when you also connect with yourself and make the effort to express what you are feeling. Sometimes the blahs are just a fog-bank protecting us from something simmering beneath the surface. Also: journaling, checking in on someone, and sending a card.

Love these?

Link to free download

There are 92 more. Each set is like a wise, loving friend. An affordable alternative for those times when you need a set of good ideas to get you through, after purchase, you simply download, print, cut, repeat. Just click the image and you’re there.

Published by Phyllis Capanna

Phyllis Capanna, MA, OTR/L, occupational therapist and counselor, creates mental health and wellness printables to help you shift your moment in times of change.

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