How to Keep Stress From Ruining Your Day: The Waterfall Effect

You awaken to a dimly lit bedroom as the sun peers through the blinds.  Rolling over to check the clock, you realize you have a few minutes to rest and think about your day. 
Thoughts begin to crowd your head and tumble over one another like a waterfall. 
The dental appointment thoughts morph into plans for a shower and makeup, then turn to decent clothes for two kids and yourself, and then shift into piled-up laundry and that lost shoe and wishing you’d lose ten pounds so you could wear those capris to the dental appointment. 
Before you know it, you get the feeling that the coming day is going to be overwhelming.  And you haven’t even gotten out of bed yet.
Like water running downhill, our thoughts can quickly slide to the negative if we’re not careful.  Your first thoughts after waking can set the tone for the day, so that’s a time to be especially vigilant about where they go. 
[break][/break]There are ways to keep stress from ruining your day.
The first step is to notice the rising emotions you feel.  That’s a tipoff to the direction your thoughts are running.
Next, take those thoughts captive.  You can choose what to think.
You might still feel some residual stress and discouragement.  It’s tempting to go back and pick up those worries and turn them over and examine them.  Too much self-introspection isn’t helpful.  Get up and get busy.
Rabbi Daniel Lapin wrote, “How did Moses rise above his negative mood?  By acting in exactly the opposite way to how he felt….The remedy is to act in a way that enlarges us…..Rather than acting small because we feel small, we can behave in a way that indicates greatness.  Our feelings will rise to match our actions.”
You may not feel great, but you can behave like a great person.  If you want to be a good Mom, start doing the things that good Moms do.  If you want to become a cheerful person, start acting and reacting like a cheerful person.  Your feelings will rise to match your actions.
We don’t really need to have a big crisis going on to have a bad day.  No, we do it to ourselves.  One little suggestion in our heads and we take it and run. 
Instead, why don’t we have a good day?  When the thoughts start tumbling like river rapids, let’s navigate the rough waters with our power of choice and a short list of to-do’s and details.
It’s probably not as bad as we think but we’ll keep thinking until we get it out of our head and onto paper. 
Choosing where to direct our thoughts and using simple tools like a to-do list can keep us from going over the edge of the waterfall, and keep us on track for a great day.
Please leave a comment below!


  1. Coveredbygrace says:

    Thank you so much–a perfectly timed reminder to “own” what we think. Especially needed in my life!!

  2. I love this!  When my children were in elementary school (now 13 and 15) I asked them every morning when they woke up, “What kind of day are you going to have?”  The response every day (taught by our wonderful Pastor!) was “A great day….because I choose to”!!!  Thanks for the reminder that our circumstances do NOT control what kind of day we will have, but rather our own choices.

  3. raspberrymama says:

    This is getting printed and going into my ever-growing notebook of “Great Things to Remember!”  Thanks for sharing, Charlotte.  God is using you!
    Susan A.

  4. Lauri Day says:

    Charlotte, I think you’re in my head today! As I laid in bed thinking about the loads of laundry, Father’s day lunch and my acing back I was already to feel overwhelmed. Thanks for reflecting how the good things to get rid of the negative thoughts arising. Perfect reminder that I am in charge of my thoughts and actions!
    Lauri Day

  5. “Your first thoughts after waking can set the tone for the day, so that’s a time to be especially vigilant about where they go.” I love that! So true!!! I know the power of self talk but I still manage to allow myself to discourage myself with my words.

    I’m having one of those days that hasn’t turned out like I planned. The cat puked multiple times during the night and caused quite a bit of work to clean it up. My granddaughter is sick so I’m babysitting my grandson longer than I planned. I haven’t got much of anything done and I’m saying things to myself like: “I can’t ever get anything done.” “Why can’t I be more organized?” “I’m so stressed.” “I have too much to do.”

    I’m not normally one to wallow but sometimes these conversations sneak into my head without me realizing it. Once I am aware, I take steps to fix it. Your post made me aware today. But that statement, about how you start your day, was important for the future, I think.


  6. This was awesome! I am new to your blog and this is the first time I am able to actually sit and read some. We have had such a hard time with this lately. Thank you Lynie for your comment. I Just now got up and wrote this on our huge white board and will be practicing this week. Thank you for sharing.

  7. I really appreciate this post!!!

  8. Timely read with our daughter’s wedding just 10 days away! Thanks so much!

    1. Charlotte Siems says:

      Best wishes to you on your daughter’s wedding! It will be a lovely occasion!

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