We all have those days, weeks and sometimes even months. Whether you’ve recently been through something traumatic, it’s a hormone issue or you are just in a funk. I’m talking about times in your life when bounding out of bed with a smile on your face feels as achievable as walking on the moon. (Note - if you are possibly clinically depressed don’t read this, go to the Doctor).
Life can be hard. In fact it’s guaranteed to be. No matter how blessed you are we all have ups and downs. But the good news is, when you are in a down, you can create the change that gets you back on track. Today I want to talk about strategies to get out ahead of waiting for time to pass. To bringing forward the return of better spirits (not those sort of spirits!).
I’m not going to lie, I am as guilty as the next person of indulging in less productive behavior. If you read this blog you would be well aware of that. But with experience wisdom grows. So I’m writing this post from that place. On that note, here are my top 10 tips for getting your happy back on.
Get enough quality sleep. Sounds easy right? For most of us it’s not. I know sleep is an unachievable commodity for some (young kids, shift workers etc). But for the rest of us, working on it can pay huge dividends. If you struggle in this area, here are some things to try; turn off electronics 30 minutes before you go to bed, avoid drinking or eating for 3 hours before lights out, write in a journal or read for those last 30 minutes, make sure your room is as dark as possible, if you have any anxious thoughts do some breathing exercises and set an alarm if waking up is one of those anxious thoughts. Aim to get 7+ hours per night. I honestly think you can’t beat a good nights sleep for a happy day to follow.
Give thanks. Gratitude is powerful stuff. Whether you give it in the form of some nice words to a special someone, write a list of things each night, pray or meditate the truth remains. No matter how bad things seem, there is still a lot to be thankful for. When my beautiful friend was dying of cancer she wrote a blog about gratitude for the last year of her life. I know it was absolutely instrumental to her managing to find happy moments in even her darkest days. Gratitude. Do it.
Get moving. Every day. Yes every single day. Whether it’s a 10 minute dog walk or an hour run, better still both. It’s been proven time and time again increasing your heart rate boosts happiness. The time in my life this resonated most was when I had just finished chemotherapy. I went to see my oncologist and had a bit of a ‘now what’ melt down. Like the enormity of cancer was only just catching up with me. After telling me this was a conversation he has with almost every patient his number one piece of advice was to exercise. In fact, he recommended I return to the running squad I’d been in prior to diagnosis. Getting up at 5.30am to do that was not on my list of can’t waits in that moment. But guess what. The very next day I did it. Incredibly, that was the day my mood started to lift. The correlation irrefutable. Better still the change stuck (as did the running).
Invest in your relationships. I’m not talking about romance here, although I could be. Make it a habit to interact with somebody you love every single day. I know it’s hard sometimes with work and managing life in general. I don’t care, find a way to do it anyway. Even a text exchange with you’re a close friend will help remind you how valuable connecting with your peoples is.
Eat nutritious food. Don’t eat too much. Drink lots of water. I have to say all of these things as a health coach. But seriously when was the last time eating too much cake made you feel good? By the way I just ate a packet of peanut M&Ms and currently feel sick to my stomach. Don’t blame me, it’s because I’m starting the Whole30 next week!!. Suffice to say it was a good reminder why eating whole unprocessed is my preference. Ok I did enjoy them in the beginning it’s true. But now not so much……so a few seconds of pleasure and currently I’m at 20 minutes of yuck.
Avoid alcohol. Alcohol is a depressant. It also leads to uninhibited behavior, which may be sticking your hand in the cookie jar or something else regrettable. When I parted ways with the last man in my life I found myself saying words like “I’m only happy when I’m drinking”. It felt true. But the reality is, If I had have practiced what I am preaching here I would have felt better on a deeper level faster. I know this to be true. To be fair it’s one of the reasons I am doing the Whole30. 30 days of absolutely no alcohol is exactly the sort of challenge I am welcoming into my life right now. No sugar, grains or dairy are just icing on the cake (ok there’s no icing or cake either but you know what I mean).
Learn to say NO to things you don’t want to do. Much easier said than done but worth it. Try working through an ‘and then what’ as you work on the confidence. This was me last Friday night. “I’ve had a big week and no longer want to go for drinks tonight”. Then internal voice says “but I hate letting people down and I don’t want to be that person”. I very nearly went, I really did. Instead I did the and then what……just say I very bravely say no…..and then what? Friend no longer speaks to me again? Unlikely. More likely, friend still goes out and has fun without me. And tomorrow I wake up feeling a million $ and go for a run. Decision made….
Smile a lot. This is easy but really big. No matter your mood, this is kind of a fake it till you make it strategy. Every single day I walk around smiling at people – including the doormen at my building and my office, the homeless people on my street, anyone serving me at the super market or coffee shop, other dog walkers…the list goes on. It’s such a reflex I don’t often think about it. That is until I am in a downward type funk and someone says something like this ‘your smile really makes my day’. In that moment I realize that I have managed to help someone else feel good. That makes me feel good too.
Walk your talk. We all have different versions of ourselves. The one I’m talking about here is the one you would describe yourself as on a dating site or maybe in an interview. Spend some time thinking about this best self. Write up 20 of your BEST traits. Stick it somewhere visible as a reminder of who you really are. Make it a practice to model your behavior on that version of you. Being your best you is happiness recipe. So yes, walk your talk.
Embrace the good stuff. Everyone is different and the things that bring you the most joy may not be the same as for me. They also evolve with you. I recently went to a music festival and it rekindled my love of music (just for example). Since then my listening habits have just about doubled. I realized that spending time finding new music and then playing it as often as possible was good for my soul. Another good stuff YM style is my gorgeous dog who turned five this week. It’s been proven that pets actually add to your lifespan they help you feel that much better. I adore my dog. She is like a tonic for a bad mood. Embrace YOUR good stuff, even more-so when you need a lift.
In thinking about this topic I came up with a new idea for me and the blog. Every week I’m going to post a 7-day happiness challenge. One thing I will commit to do for seven days that aims to lift my spirits. I would like nothing more than for you to take the challenge too. I will be reporting back each week with the results and look forward to hearing yours too. In the meantime, have a great day (said with big fat smile).