All of us, I mean all of us, from those who the most simple of lives, to the most powerful influential people on the planet, have times when it just feels like the world is crashing down (hopefully not literally). You have just broken up a long-term relationship or are thinking about it. You’re trying to manage the 74 extra things on your plate because 7 more people were let go at your company. You just lost your job. Your job is next on the line. You feel like you’ll never get that dissertation completed. The adoption of 2 kids you have begun to love has fallen through- I am not making this up it happened to someone I know. Insert your own scenario here.
It is easy and awfully tempting, to slip into a pretty poor state of mood and being when your life, or some aspect of it, feels like it is going to h-e-double-hockey-sticks in a handbasket. There are several things you can do to help keep your perspective, lighten your mood and heck maybe even be happy despite the cruddy times. Here some tried, true, low cost, big pay off tips, they work for me, for my clients and for many other people.
1. Get enough sleep. Yes it is temping to stay up all night watching the Three Stooges marathon – okay maybe only for me and a select few other individuals- but whatever is tempting you to stay up way past your bedtime is pretty much guaranteed to not be as restorative as a full night’s sleep. Kids they tend to sleep a lot, have gobs and gob of energy and generally laugh, smile and are happy. Sleep is when we recharge our batteries, fill up our fuel tanks. When your world feels tough, stressful or just plan icky, you need all the energy you can get to move through the days and not get hooked by the negatives (fear, gremlins, frustration, anxiety, depression).
2. Exercise. Get moving. Exercise will help improve your mood, thanks to the nifty happy hormones released when you move, really move. Plus there are many other benefits of exercise that are life nurturing. So take that brisk walk, or go tango, jump and jive, whack a tennis ball around, or grab the sled, hike up the hill with the kids and let’er rip. You’ll release the hormone hounds of happiness as it were. Plus you’ll burn off some of the treats you have been indulging in, if you are anything like me.
3. Say no to the treats. As long as we are on the subject… that chocolate chip cookie from the coffee shop, or that extra glass of bourbon, wine, beer or libation of choice you are having at night, or the extra butter on your popcorn during Friday movie night, are fleeting romances. Like a flirtation on a train when you are 19 and trekking across Europe, they are good for just a moment, and it is nice to have them once and a while. But the treats are not going to nurture and sustain you well in the long run; you deserve more than a fleeting romance.
4. Stay connected with people. Yes, when things feel like h-double-hockey-sticks is normal to want to curl up in some hidey-hole of your own making. And I think it is okay to do that for a little while, but get out and get into the proverbial sunshine of good relationships. Now is not the time to shy away from friends and loved ones- they are you support system, go bask in their warmth and support. Bask in person, on the phone, through a letter or via email. The options for connection are practically limitless these days. Avoid the negative energy folks.
5. Help someone else. Nothing will make you feel better than doing something you know you can do and helping someone. So go and do it, you’ll better about yourself. This is a win-win for you and the other person.
6. Cultivate one area of growth in your life. Is everything else feeling bad, well do something you have always wanted to learn. A number of years ago I was working a city where I felt isolated and at job where I felt entirely unsupported and undervalued, that is when I decided it was time to learn how to knit. And knit I learned to do, it help me stay grounded and lifted my mood in the evenings and on the commune too and from work, plus it got me connected to positive nurturing folks. Good find you equivalent of knitting.
7. Practice gratitude. Take stock of what is right, working and good in your life. The small things, like a ray of sunlight, resting on the kitchen table as you sip a fresh cup of coffee. Or the sound of children laughing the neighbors yard chasing snowflakes. The big things, like the love of a husband, wife or your main squeeze. The gift well-being and good health. People whom regularly practice gratitude are happier than those that don’t.
8. Clear out the clutter. Decluttering and getting organized creates a welcoming environment. Get rid of the extra stuff, in the closet, the kitchen your briefcase, files, storage shed, wherever the clutter is hiding. You’ll feel lightened believe me. Heck you could even offer to clear out some clutter for someone else too.
9. Distractions. Take a time out and allow yourself to be distracted from your worries. It is not helpful to worry 24/7 and you are not going to solve all your worries by fretting. Go to the movies, get lost in a complex puzzle, plan our your spring garden, run in the dog park- whatever distracts you. Taking a break can help you gain some distance and perspective and you might just uncover an insight or two that change things for the better for you.
10. Laugh. Laughter has an amazing ability to lighten a mood, break the tension and suddenly you feel a flood of warmth rushing through you. Laugher clubs are spring up around the world for a reason. Ask a 5 year old to tickle your feet I am sure they’ll be delighted to oblige. Read something funny. Break out those old comedy records, or watch just one or two Three Stooges episodes.