Question: How do you eat an elephant? Answer: One bite at a time.

Through the years I have developed many sayings that have meaning to me. My parents often shared their own mottoes and I find I have incorporated their words of wisdom with mine. I use these simple phrases when people come to me for help. The saying serves as a mental cue to help these troubled souls when I am not around to help them cope with an unpleasant or challenging situation. This cue also breaks the initial panicked response and switches the brain to problem solving mode.
Let’s take a look at the elephant saying. Do you often find yourself overwhelmed with a barrage of things to accomplish to the point you want to throw up your hands and run screaming from the room? I certainly have, in fact, it happened yesterday at work. We were in the midst of creating a new media kit for Surplus Today and were on draft number 14! This was just one of a multitude of other tasks, issues and mental clutter I was tackling personally and professionally. So I took an Ativan and ran out the door. Just kidding. That was the fantasy I had, not the reality, and it certainly would not make all the “stuff” any better.

One solution to wading through the mire of things to solve was to go to my personal office, sit down, close my eyes and BREATHE. I have been attempting to become a regular practitioner of meditation and I am making some progress. Just doing this physical action, gives you time to calm down, lessen your anxiety and clear your mind of ALL matters. My goal is 20 minutes a day and it does get easier if you just keep trying. At first your brain will be on overdrive and the more you try to clear it, the more it objects! Just let the thoughts go through and concentrate on a calming word like “Peace” or “Relax” and keep inhaling and exhaling deep breaths. Or, you can listen to some relaxing or meditation music while you clear your mind. Unlike so many of our “shoulds,” there is not a good or bad way to meditate…no judgment… just a chance to incorporate a positive and healthy practice into your harried life.

Now back to the unfolding scene at the “Creative Suite” (a term we use as an inside joke about our workspace at Surplus Today.) Our sales director, Kyle, took a look at the disaster that was created and suggested we scrap the whole thing and start over. He found some samples of the kits used by similar publications and we worked step by step until there was a viable product, which I then tweaked until I was satisfied it was what we needed. This is another coping strategy to eating the elephant. Have someone who is not so entrenched in a problematic process take a fresh look at it. Our problem was solved! Everyone started to breathe normally and smiles returned to start on the next bite of another elephant. Eventually, you can consume the huge gray mass of a trumpeting, charging beast that does not have to take charge of your life.

When you are faced with these daily frustrations, just relax, breathe and the take the first bite.

Deborah Gantos is the Editor-In-Chief of Surplus Today.