Tuesday, September 1, 2009

10 Ways to Feel Better

Everyday the friendly security guard in my building greets me with a huge smile and asks me how I'm doing that day. Today, I considered saying (with an equally huge smile) "Barely holding back the tears! And how are you?!" Somehow I found a way to resist the urge. I just smiled. I wonder if he noticed that the smile didn't reach my eyes. I just get really sad and overwhelmed sometimes. Then I feel guilty for feeling that way because I am so blessed. When I feel down and try to internalize it, I just feel worse and it leads to misunderstandings and misperceptions in my relationships.

Most people feel this way occasionally for short periods of time. If the sad feeling persists and begins to impact all aspects of life for a longer period of time, this may actually be clinical depression. The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) says that one in four women will experience severe depression at some point in life and depression affects twice as many women as men, regardless of racial and ethnic background or income. We can choose to ignore it and fill the void with addiction, indulgence and other destructive behavior. Or we can heal ourselves by talking about it. That's a start.

This blog is so healing to me because it allows me be honest and vocal about my efforts to maintain happiness and live a fulfilling life. Being the eternal optimist that I am, I always look for the light through the darkness. One of the ways I've found to do that is making lists. Oh, how I love a list! My love of lists is undoubtedly connected to my love of writing. There's something about seeing things down on paper that calms me.

Today's list consists of 10 things we all can do to increase our happiness or to feel better when our spirits need a lift.

Help someone. Listen to someone else's trials and tribulations and be supportive. Volunteer. Offer a complement. Go out of your way to be kind. Believe in the concept of paying it forward. It takes your mind off of your own troubles and makes you feel worthwhile.

Go to your happy place. Create a space for yourself that is in every way uniquely you. Make it cozy, neat, messy, fragrant, indoors, outdoors…whatever. Fill it with your favorite books, pictures, music, gadgets and decorations.

Focus on your strengths. We often put most of our energy into improving our weaknesses and judging ourselves. What would happen if instead we looked for ways to shine a brighter light on what we do well? Remember that there are people who don't have the same strengths as you.

Use your support system. Don't be afraid to reach out to your friends and family when you are sinking. We don't want to be a burden, so we try to appear to have it all together when we don't. That's what they are there for. Vent. Cry. Complain. Brainstorm solutions. Relate. Laugh. Heal. Don't wait until you are in crisis to ask for help.

Stop gossiping. Give so much time to loving and honoring yourself that you have no time to criticize others. Avoid people who build themselves up by breaking others down. We all do it. Let's try to be thoughtful and constructive with our discussions. I will try if you will.

Tune it Out. Don't read the newspaper or watch the news for awhile. Between nuclear weapons, wars, crime, tragic accidents, swine flu and pandemic diseases there is so much going on that is unpredictable and scary. We often distress ourselves and misuse our imaginations when we worry about things we can't control.

Speak your Truth. Find the courage to ask questions and express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as possible to avoid misunderstandings, sadness and drama. Know that your voice is relevant and important. If you don't want to do something, say so. If you can't afford it, say so. If the answer is no, say so. With love but without apology.

Girls' Night Out/Girls' Night In. Dress up. Do your hair. Throw some heels on. DANCE. "Let the music and the madness get to you…life ain't so bad at all…." Or invite your girls over and do each other's hair. Watch Coming to America. Sex and the City reruns. Whatever you like. Paint your nails. Relive the joy and simplicity of having a slumber party with your friends.

Listen to MJ. So much of Michael Jackson's music is about love, expression and happiness. He makes you wiggle, smile and perhaps recall a time in your life when things were simpler. He left us with a legacy of music that transcends time and trends. His music always gives me a boost.

Exercise. For me, this is the red-headed stepchild of this list. I know how good it makes me feel physically and emotionally, but I'm still inconsistent with it. Exercise gives you a break from worries and an energy boost that enhances your sense of well-being. Yoga, my personal fave, is an amazing outlet to connect your mind, body and spirit and create an overall feeling of peace and balance. I also like it because I don't get sweaty. Any degree of moderate activity helps, though.

Just writing this post has boosted my spirits. I think I will make this a weekly installment on PLPT. My issues are still my issues, but what's more important than any problem I have is the responsibility that I have to be a source of joy.

Feel free to share what boosts you when the clouds close in. I hope that reading PLPT is one of those things! xoxo


urbsoph said...

hi friends...please don't take my lack of comments as a sign that i don't read..believe me i love love love PL&PT, this is my daily inspiration. thank you both for always starting my day with a great read. love you ladies!

karim said...

Good post on peaceful life.

karim - Positive thinking

Vonnie said...

I'm just so excited that I can finally post, after some technical difficulties. I love PL&PT! It gets my mornings started off right (along with my cup of joe, toaster strudle, and sausage).

Peace Love and Pretty Things said...

And we love you back urbsoph! I hope to see a post from you this week! We love you back!

Thanks for stopping by karim! I love your site!

Yay Vonnie! So glad that you were able to defeat the gremlins who were keeping you from saying your piece. We love you back!

Poppy Fields said...

This is a great post. I'm going to share it on my blog. I'd love to have a grown girls slumber party. LOL!

GG said...

Thanks Carmen :) I like to go back and read this one for the reminders too. I so miss having slumber parties. My whole 4, no 5 years of college was a big slumber party.

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