5 Action Steps I take to elevate a Sagging Mood
What to do when you are in a Funk
We all have those days, or sometimes a patch of days where we just aren't feeling at our best. I have them, you have them, it's a commonality of life that we can't all feel fabulous every single day of our lives.
But, I do have a few techniques that I practice when I'm having a less than happy day. These are tried and true activities or behaviors that almost always can make me feel better, if not great!
I will share them with you so that when you find yourself on the business end of a grumpy day, you will have some tools to use to help turn that mood around.
Step one: Express Gratitude
I have found that it's almost impossible to stay in a funk when I am actively practicing expressing gratitude. I know that there are times when it can feel very difficult to find even one thing to find to be grateful for, but I can guarantee that once you commit to one thing and express gratitude for it, you will be blessed with the idea of many more things to be grateful for.
It is a proven practice for me, time and again that by expressing my gratitude I find multiple other things to be grateful for. And, as I'm contemplating all these things I am grateful for, my mood is lifting and before I know it I am already feeling a shift and much better about my life.
For instance, you wake up and are already feeling tired. As you come to consciousness you recall something that is weighing you down, and causing you stress. Now, I'm asking you to contemplate gratitude for something in your life. I know that in this moment, you may feel like there just isn't anything to be grateful for. So, I suggest you start out very small; for instance you can express your gratitude that you woke up today! That is a baby step, but it starts you on the right pathway. After contemplating how wonderful it is to be awake and alive, you can then think about how great it is that you have a home that you woke up in. Each little step builds more gratitude into the mix. I like to speak my gratitude aloud, or better yet, it's wonderful to write it down. I am not suggesting that before you even get out of bed, that you are writing down what you are grateful for, but at some point it is very powerful to write out your gratitude. I believe the act of writing sort of cements the reality of your gratitude.
Each time you practice this, you create a habit and a good, positive habit to have is one of conscious gratitude.
Step Two: Move your Body
Another powerful activity that will enhance your mood is that of physically moving your body. While exercise is known to help increase endorphins and a powerful feeling of wellbeing, just moving at all is helpful.
When one is feeling depressed, or in a "funk" the idea of exercise is probably the furthest thing from your mind. So, again I like to suggest "baby steps". If you normally spend much of your day sitting at the computer screen, you can incorporate stretching into your day. For instance, for every hour spent typing or working at the desk, you can stand up and do some active stretches for 5-10 minutes. This will get the blood moving through your system and help prevent stiffness in your muscles. And even these small movement breaks open up your brain a bit and help the positive energy flow in a bit.
As able, add some walking or daily exercise to your routine. Even if you take 3 or 4 10 minute walks every day, it's a start and your body will benefit as will your mood. If you make some sort of physical exercise a part of your day, eventually your body will come to expect it and crave the movement.
Ideally, you find some sort of physical exercise that you enjoy and are able to do on most days. Yoga, walking, aerobic dance, hiking...there are so many activities to choose from and you can start at a level that is safe for your present physical ability.
I know from experience that movement is essential in helping the brain be positive and productive.
Step Three: Turn on some music
Music is of course something many of us can't imagine being without. Whether it's Country, Pop, Rock or New Age, music can literally be a soundtrack to our lives.
It is nothing new to suggest that by turning on some music you might alter your present mood. If one is feeling happy, turning on some happy music can just lift your spirits even higher.
However, sometimes when you are feeling down, or unhappy it's not as simple as turning on happy music to get happy. It may feel forced or difficult to try to enjoy some happy little tune when you really feel like crying or are angry.
What does work though is to turn on some music that is a bit closer to your state of mind. Maybe you are feeling lonely and so you listen to some love ballads and sing along. After a bit of this it starts to feel like wallowing and now you are ready to get out of this funk! Now, turn the dial to something a bit more cheerful and gradually bring the mood up.
You can put on your favorite dance tunes and add a bit of dance to a happy tune. You've now activated your physical self which will increase endorphin flow, and you've added the power of suggestion with a happy song that makes you smile.
Music is so easy to come by, whether streaming live on the computer, your mp3 or the radio. Try to remember how available music is to you and how very much it can affect your mood for the better.
Step Four: Set Intentions
One thing that I work at regularly is having an Intention for my day. What this means to me is that I have a clear idea or goal of what minimum I would like to accomplish on any given day.
I like to set an Intention the night before as I'm readying myself for sleep. I simply contemplate the day ahead and think about what I want to get done. For instance, Last night as I fell asleep I thought that today I wanted to be sure that I write a Blog, take a long walk and clean my apartment. It's Sunday and I like to write a Blog every week, so that is a given; I always like to either start my day with a long walk, or plan on a Yoga workout. I usually clean my apartment.
This may not seem like a big deal but I find that by setting an intention for the coming day, or the given day, that I prevent a feeling of loose ends and a sense of not enough to do. Many of you have such busy lives that you may actually need to set an intention of the kinds of things you will do to give yourself a break! Instead of filling the time with activities as I tend to do, you may have to plan in some leisure time or some meditation practice.
For me, I often start my day with a brief period of meditation and prayer. I seek the wisdom from my higher power to be guided fully on the day ahead. I will ask to let go of the negative and open myself to a positive flow of energy and intention. I find that this practice puts me in a positive mindset and that I will have a better flow to my day which will help me have a positive mood.
This practice can look different for each person, but if at some point the day of or the day prior you make it a habit of having a plan or intention it may help you have a more stable, upbeat mood as well.
Step Five: Experience Nature
I find that no matter what kind of mood I'm in, that being outdoors even briefly can elevate my mood. It is just very difficult to not find something to be positive about when you are outside among trees, sky, and the ground beneath you.
I have a small dog and live in an apartment, so I start every day of my life by walking her first thing after I rise from sleep. I have complained a lot about having to get up right away and go outside, because it would be so easy to have a yard instead. But, now that this has become a routine in my life, I've come to be grateful for it. It is just very healing for us to experience the real world outdoors at least once a day, and preferably several times throughout the day.
I know many people work at small cubicles without even a window to look out of. I think it's even more important for these people to make an effort to experience life outside! There is something very charging and healing about feeling the sky overhead with or without the sunshine and feeling the earth beneath our feet. Ideally, we all can take off our shoes and connect to the earth even 5-10 minutes per day. It's called "Earthing" to connect physically with the world through our bodies.
I have found it so very nurturing to experience the sky overhead, the ground under my feet several times throughout each day.
If you are feeling down in the dumps, you can combine getting physical movement with getting outdoors in nature and you've really stepped up the ante to a better mood! You can add some music and think about what you are grateful for and you have really got a good thing going now!
Even if it's only for five minutes, do your best to get outside in nature every single day!
Good Mood Maintenance
Being in a good mood is not always possible. How would we even recognize a good mood, if not for having had or experienced a bad mood along the way?
It's natural that we will have days that we just don't feel that same joy to be alive, and that's OK. But, it is a good idea to cultivate some daily habits that will tilt you toward more days of Good moods than not.
I hope that you can add some or all of my techniques to achieving a positive mindset and find yourself able to have a better mood.
It's OK to have a bad day here and there, but we all like to experience as much Joy as is possible and it's my hope that this will help you to have more joy filled days than not!