Do you sometimes just call it at a bad day and give up when things aren't going your way? It's easy to tell yourself you're doing everything right — at work, with your friends, with your partner or in your search for love — so why aren't you getting the results you want? Instead of throwing in the towel, there's another way to combat the blues that won't have you fighting yourself: find joy in simple pleasures. Try these seven ways to pull yourself up and feel the self love when you feel down.
1. I've certainly heard the value of deep breathing often enough, but when my acupuncturist proclaimed its power for a physical annoyance I was experiencing, I wrote "breathe" on the next three weeks' log pages, so I'd have daily reminders. I've found, to my surprise, that whatever I felt heavy about, be it apprehension about an upcoming encounter or self-criticism for not completing the last day's intentions, the weight seems to lift itself and float away when I consciously take five- to eight-second breaths. If the stress comes back, those deep breaths will carry it away again. And if you find yourself breathing deeply 16 times a day, what a gift to your physical well-being! You can google "deep breathing exercises" to get you started.
2. Whether it's rock 'n roll, blues, jazz or meditative music, five or ten minutes of getting in the groove — feeling the music — is like taking off a heavy backpack. If you are in a place where others might gawk, put on your earphones. If you need to look busy for work purposes, do some doodling. You are a lot more likely to be efficient in five minutes when your emotions aren't constipated, and music will help get things moving.
3. Take a nap or even a five-minute rest. When I put on soothing music, lie down and take several deep breaths, I'm bringing myself to a place of tranquility. On a particularly stressful day, sit or lie down two or more times to reach for peace. If you're in a public setting and there are no private couches or chairs you can use, you might do your most acceptable version of this in the restroom.
4. Have a healthy snack. It will only take a minute or two to core an apple or peel an orange, and no one is going to fault you for taking a short break from your schedule. You can even try out some different treats, like canned rambutan or fruits you see in an asian market. If you are a gardener, you may have berries or peaches in your freezer. How about a shake?
5. Make a deal with yourself when you are determined to conquer that clutter, eliminate those emails from the last month's drafts folder or solve all of your relationship problems. Promise yourself 15 to 30 minutes reading a book you were eager to dive into, watching a TV show, or attending a yoga or aerobics class you really enjoy. You can even just put up your feet in the park or in your backyard with no agenda. Remembering to take breaks from stressful, all-consuming jobs is imperative.
6. Take out your photos (in albums or online) and relive those memories. I'm always surprised when I revisit pictures from Bali, or the Great Barrier Reef, or Turkey. How lucky I feel to have experienced watching thousands of birds flying in nightly outside of Ubud, seeing underwater life in a closed boat and hang gliding. If you can stay peaceful, hang out with those photos for 50 minutes instead of five. Feel your stress level simmer down and set a time on your calendar to enjoy the photos again or better yet, plan a real vacation, even if far-off in future.
7. Be curious. Use afformations (a question form of affirmations) to plan your future. For example, an affirmation might say, "I am peaceful and calm." An afformation might ask, "How did I get so lucky to easily move to peace and calm?" The mind hears a question and automatically heads to finding an answer. Your, "Why am I so excited about my trip to China?" plants the seeds of anticipation, and the very act of visualizing that trip is comparable to filling the tank with gas and getting ready to go.
If you have tried any or all seven of these and still have bad days days, know that it's hard to lift the lethargy or tame the turmoil. Don't forget that you can always call a friend. Research new ways for dealing with stress or feeling better and try a tool you haven't ever considered. What's there to lose? I do believe we are able to lift our spirits, even if only in small ways. Do what works for you. Believing is the first step to being happy and having peace. And having peace and happiness is the first step to successful, blissful relationships.
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