That's Alarming. But, Like, a Good Alarming.

Jobs are stressful. Mine is no exception. I'll be the first to admit that sometimes I get tunnel vision...I get sucked into a problem and the anxiety grows and grows in my chest until I can't see anything else.

(This is particularly ridiculous because I work in an animation studio. We make cartoons! And yet so often people - including me - forget that our work is not life or death. I haven't pulled any orphans from a fire today. Or any day, for that matter.)

My friend Lara (who also works in entertainment) told me about this trick to help you break out of the tunnel vision. She sets alarms on her phone with little positive affirmations or happy reminders, to help give her some objectivity throughout the day. I totally fell in love with this idea and co-opted it immediately!

When they pop up, they look something like this:

Actually they look exactly like that because this is a screengrab from my phone. Anyway, I know it may not seem like much, but I have this set to pop up mid-morning during the week (not every day...sporadically) and I cannot tell you how many times it has popped up at exactly the moment I needed it! It's a great reminder that whatever drama I'm dealing with isn't that important. And that I'll probably handle it better if I take a minute to clear my head.

I'm sure you're thinking - I don't want alarms to go off in the middle of my meetings! Are you trying to make me look like a fool, Kara?! But it's not like that - you turn the sound and the buzz off, so it's really just words popping onto your screening. And you're either sitting in a meeting, bored, when these words happily light up or you're pulling your phone out of your pocket to do something like confirm that your email went through (so stop yelling at me and saying I didn't get you the info, other person) and it's there! A happy glowing blue reminder to relax. 

So here's what my alarm list looks like on my phone:

(There are even more, but you can't see them all on this list!) 

Here's a step by step guide to setting up positive affirmation alarms on your iPhone:
  1. Open your CLOCK app and click on the ALARM button.
  2. Click on the + sign in the upper right-hand corner.
  3. Pick a time that feels right for you. Do you have stressful mornings or afternoons? If it's both, don't worry - you can set as many alarms as you want!
  4. Click the word REPEAT to choose how many days out of the week you want this to go off. 
  5. Click the word LABEL. This is where you enter the words that you want to appear on the screen. It can be literally anything. You know me, I'm a big cheeseball, so I fill it with sappy happy ridiculous things. But you could put, Snap out of it, stupid! or Bitches be crazy or Let's skip work and get wasted! Whatever floats your boat, man. No one else is gonna see these things, so do what works for you.
  6. Click the word SOUND and pick NONE.
  7. SNOOZE is your prerogative. I like having the snooze on - if I'm way stressed, I press snooze and I get another reminder in ten minutes to BREATHE. But some people might find that annoying.
I'm sure this could work on any phone, not just an iPhone (Well, any smart phone. My coordinator Charlie has a flip phone and I don't think it's gonna work on that. Sorry, Charlie!).

At first I didn't know if it would work...I mean, I'm setting the alarms myself. Aren't I going to remember when they're gonna go off? But you'd be surprised - I'm pretty much always delightedly startled when I look down and see one of my alarms is going off. And you will too! Because we ALL get caught up in the crazy shit at work. You're not thinking about your iPhone alarms - you're thinking about how to diffuse the tricky situation in front of you.

Try it out! See what you think. It does wonders for my psyche. My apparently delicate, tunnel-vision-prone, over-stressed psyche. 

PS. I need to get a new battery.