I’m an emotional person. I feel lots of things pretty strongly. But that can be difficult to live with on a daily basis, so I try to stay as emotionally balanced as possible. Sometimes something will really get to me anyway and I get crabby! I had one such encounter this week right before a meeting–someone was unexpectedly rude to me and I needed to cool down quickly. Other times, my day has been really boring or I’m feeling anxious or I just want to boost my mood a little. I’ve put together a small arsenal of little pick-me-ups in order to put problems aside and refocus on the present. These are not meant as cures or even distractions, but as simply ways to feel more positive and mentally refreshed.
1. Brushing my teeth: I’m nuts about oral hygiene, possibly because it’s a way to literally and figuratively clean a bad taste out of my mouth. Life feels better with clean teeth, and the smell of mint can make you more alert.
2. Take a walk: Yeah yeah, that’s an obvious one. But really disappear for five minutes. If I’m at work, I take my phone with me for the sole purpose of taking pictures. There’s beauty everywhere if you look hard enough. Here is one such photo taken during a walk at work:
3. Read or watch something funny: I keep a book of Dave Barry columns next to my bed. I’m not sure what reading humor columns after a domestic disagreement says about me, but it sure helps to improve my outlook. Sometimes I watch silly YouTube videos on my phone. We’ve all heard that smiling and laughing can boost mood, and it’s true! (Even if scowling for a while sounds like a more satisfying option.)
4. Pet a friend: Well, a furry friend. I don’t recommend trying to pet your human friends. We have four furry monsters at home, so I have quite a choice, and I keep an emergency backup guinea pig facsimile (read: a Beanie Baby) on my desk at work. So what if it looks like my desk is inhabited by a 12-year-old? Animals can make a deep emotional impact, and although not wildly popular and possibly kind of nutty sounding, pet therapy exists and it’s something I hope to explore further. The world needs more guinea pig hugs!
5. Read or watch something cute: For pretty much the same reasons above, I visit CuteOverload.com frequently. There’s are many reasons for this: puppies, kittens, bunnies, guinea pigs, hamsters, otters…It sounds kind of silly, yet I’ve gotten my husband doing this now too. I consider it a major victory!
6. Change the hall lightbulb, goshdarnit: Completing a quick chore, especially one you’ve been meaning to do, can feel really great–you’ve accomplished a little something and feel like you have a fresh start. I like to quickly clean out my purse or car, file some papers that have been sitting around too long, or do something I’ve been avoiding, like calling to arrange a carpet cleaning appointment. It’s important, though, to limit your chore to just a few minutes, instead of letting it spiral out of control as a way of avoiding what you really need to do!
7. Meditate: I am not the most successful meditator, yet even I notice a difference. Usually, I set a timer for a minute or two, then close my eyes and take deep breaths through my nose. As I do this, I try to focus strictly on the feeling of my breath; if other thoughts try to intrude, I notice them, then turn back my focus on my breath. If you feel terrible at meditation, don’t beat yourself up–who is judging you?
8. Do something creative: Keep a can of Play Doh and sculpt something. Hang Magnetic poetry on a fridge or filing cabinet. Work for five minutes on a craft project. Build the world’s largest rubber band and then hold the world’s largest rubber band snap. (This happened at one of my summer jobs. It was glorious.)
9. Spread positivity: Check in with a friend through email or a letter. Give someone a genuine compliment. Pay the bill for the person behind you in the Starbucks drive-thru. Positivity is contagious!
I’ve found that the real key is doing these tasks mindfully, paying attention only to what you are feeling and experiencing at that moment. Doing this will shift your focus from the past or future to the present, meaning you can more easily let go of those small worries and annoyances.
Try some of these and let me know how it goes! Or, what do you do to lift a bad mood?