Thinking About Stress Differently

Throughout this year, I’ve been working on slowing down.  In the midst of this holiday season, it doesn’t  feel like I’m achieving that goal, but I have caught myself thinking about stressors a little differently.

The poor little Fit.  Not feeling so euphoric today.

The poor little Fit. Not feeling so euphoric today.

A few weeks ago my car go rear ended.  While I wait for it to be fixed, I’ve driven a rental, used Matt’s car, and borrowed a car from a friend.  Each of these cars is a little different.  The gas tank is on a different side, the way you open the tank changes, how you unlock or lock the cars is all unique.  Everything from the lights to the windshield wipers to whether or not there is an ice scraper nearby is different in each and every vehicle.  And the trouble is I notice the difference when I’m in a rush.  Heading out for class, there’s a frost, and I can’t find the scraper.  Have my arms filled with stuff and realize the car I have today needs you to hold the key in your hand in order to open it.  Go to open the trunk and realize I don’t know how.

They are all mild nuisances in the scheme of life, but my first thought is utter frustration.  So I changed my thought process.  I realized all these little changes that throw me off for a mere ten seconds are helping keep me present.  Normally, I’d hop in my car and go through the motions mindlessly.   The past four weeks, at least when driving, that hasn’t been an option.  Every car’s blind spot is different.  Every car’s turn signal works differently.  My hands free isn’t available.  I’ve learned I’m prone to thinking the hazards are the defrost.  They  never are.  Small things I’d been taking for granted require a little extra attention.

It’s still frustrating not to have my car.  And I cannot wait to have it back, but in some ways this has been a good reminder to appreciate the little things I take for granted, and to bring me back to the moment in a world that seems to be whirling by in a whiz.  And I wouldn’t have thought of these as opportunities to be present if my car hadn’t been damaged.

I’ve read that changing your routine is good for your mind.  Things like brushing your teeth with the other hand or taking a different route to work are meant to keep your brain healthy.  Well, driving different cars can get added to the list.  And here’s a few more if you’re looking for any.

Little Ways to Challenge Your Brain in the New Year:

  • At an exercise class, start with the side you normally don’t
  • Next time you come to class sit someplace different
  • When you cross your legs, cross them in the opposite direction
  • While showering try doing your routine in a different order
  • Next time you eat, try using your less dominant hand
  • Throughout the day, notice all the little things your brain and body are just doing for you and be impressed, because while living in the moment is important, what our mind and body is capable of learning is also pretty cool.

(Note: By the time you are reading this, I probably do have my car back.)


About the Author:

Maggie Downie
Thank you for giving your time to stop and read my blog. I hope it encourages you to keep moving. Move and the body will be happier. And when you're moving you can hike, run, swim in Jell-O, race over non-Newtonian fluids, travel the world or build igloos--if that's your thing. If not, you can watch me do it. This is just a spot to try and feel good about life.


  1. Deborah Bax January 3, 2017 at 4:20 pm - Reply

    Great reminder!

  2. Carol Turner February 5, 2017 at 9:27 am - Reply

    Hi Maggie,

    I enjoyed your article about your car experiences–so true that it’s good to change things up to keep the brain on it’s toes. I look forward to continued classes through Wethersfield and the nearby towns–I appreciate that these are available–and thank you for helping me keep healthy and strong 🙂

    • Maggie Downie
      Maggie Downie March 10, 2017 at 2:44 pm - Reply

      Carol, Thanks for reading and taking our classes. I’m glad you enjoy them.

  3. Deborah Bax July 30, 2018 at 12:56 pm - Reply

    Another simple trick to wake our brains up: put the toilet paper on the roll in the opposite direction. All really great suggestions, Maggie.

    • Maggie Downie
      Maggie Downie July 30, 2018 at 4:51 pm - Reply

      I am way too OCD for this one, which probably means I need to!

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