Step awaaaay from the chaos: plucking, push-ups and other life-saving circuit breakers

By Alive & Well


So we’ve just had our annual summer holidays down here, and it was wonderful to break out from the usual routine.

via weheartit.comLots of friends, beach time, cricket, tennis, and the odd snatched afternoon spent reading in bed.

But of course, some days were better than others. Some days it seemed like my 3 sons woke up on the wrong side of the bed and wouldn’t stop baiting each other. Constant wrestling, shouting, lots of “he said”, “but he did”, “you’re not” etc etc.

I choose not to be the arbiter of their relationships, so I deal with this by giving them some advice, reminding them of their choices or letting them work it out for themselves Lord-of-the-Flies style. But sometimes it all gets a bit much.

One day when it seemed like there hadn’t been any respite from the yelling and chaos for hours, I found myself reaching into the depths of my brain to work out how to create a calmer experience for myself.

Sure, I know I can just choose  to be happy and calm, but sometimes that’s a bit of a challenge. This was one of those times. And then I remembered a little technique that a neighbour taught me when my eldest son was a baby (thanks Sue!).

The circuit breaker

My first baby screamed a lot. I mean a *LOT*. It went on for months. I look back with all the knowledge I have now and know that I could have helped him more, but I didn’t know any of that stuff back then. So I did my best but some days felt brutal.

On one of those days, I bumped into Sue. She took one look at me and said she could see the exhaustion all over my face and body. When I told her what was going on, she shared her little trick with me.

When her 4 kids were little and life seemed overwhelming, she used to go to her bathroom and pluck her stray eyebrow hairs. Random, simple, but powerful – because in those 2 minutes she spent out of the eye of the storm, she would regain her sense of calm, remember how fortunate she was (is!) and think of a positive way to improve the situation rather than just shouting at the kids or bursting into tears. Not bad for a couple of minutes with a pair of tweezers.

She advised me to find my own circuit breaker.

One of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever had

Now that I’m studying health and wellness, I see it all over the place – particularly in the happiness literature. And I’ve developed a bunch of circuit breakers of my own. Here’s a sample, no particular order:

  • Head to the garden and weed a small section of the veggie patch (my personal favourite)
  • Drink a glass of water slowly or prepare a cup of tea
  • Count to 10 and breathe deeply
  • Grab my favourite happiness book and re-read a chapter
  • For that matter, grab any book and read for a few minutes
  • Do some push-ups in my bedroom.

They’re life-savers.

Do you use circuit breakers? What works for you?