- Mental Health»
Top 10 Ways to Get Happy
They say that when it rains, it pours. Lately, it seems that none of my friends can catch a break. There are custody battles raging, deaths in the family, friendships falling apart, and relationships breaking up.
When you're the one in the middle of tragedy, it can be so easy to curl up in a ball, pull the covers over your head, and wallow in sadness. Here I have provided what I believe to be the 10 best ways to make yourself feel better, even if it's just for a few moments. The next time you feel like hiding from the world, try one of these suggestions!
I'm a teacher, and last school year was a hard year for me. I take my job very seriously, and I take the success or failure of my students very seriously as well. The No Child Left Behind legislation can be incredibly stressful for any teacher, but especially at my school where we have many students who are second language learners (watch for a Hub on this!). On top of the NCLB stress, I also was struggling with a particularly difficult parent. The administration chose to take that student out of my class for reasons beyond my control, and when that happened I felt incredibly unsupported.
I felt like I had no control over what was happening in my classroom. As I tried to grade after school that day, I found myself rereading the same sentences over and over; I just couldn't concentrate. I was fidgeting, tapping my feet and my pencil, and eventually opened my desk drawer. Easily distracted, I started organizing post-its, stickers, rubber bands, and paperclips. It took me about an hour to get the desk just right, and by the time I was finished my mind was more at peace.
This incident helped me realize that when everything feels out of control, taking control of the small things can make you feel better. Now, whenever I'm upset I go straight for the closet or kitchen cabinets and start organizing.
#9 Write Down your Goals
"After all, tomorrow is another day." Scarlett O'Hara gave us this cliché at the end of Gone with the Wind when she lost, presumably, the love of her life. Scarlett realized too late that she was cold and unavailable to Rhett, and I believe she was devastated at her loss. What she did was give herself a plan of action, and I admire her for this determination. She vowed to go home and win him back.
When something tragic happens, it can be easy to become stuck in the present. At that present moment, it is hard to see the forest for the trees. In other words, it is hard to see past the pain to the possibilities in the future. Even if the present situation is a death in the family or the end of a relationship, writing down future career goals or life goals can help you see that there still is a future. Life goes on, even if it feels slow or if the pain feels endless.
#8 Read a Book
This might be a little biased (okay, it's my opinion so it's all biased), but I think a book is the best way to temporarily forget about your problems. If you can become the characters in the books you read, if you can enter another world and another time, three hours can fly by as a blissful escape.
Last month I was having some financial problems (trying to save for a wedding and buying a house at the same time was NOT a smart choice...), and they were all that I could think about. I decided at the same point to finally read the Harry Potter series. I know that it's a children's series, but sometimes an easy read is the best thing for a troubled mind. I read the first four books THAT WEEK because when I entered Harry's world, I left mine.
Songs that make you feel good!
- NPR.org Songs That Make You Feel Good
Great podcast about this very topic!
#7 Blast Some Tunes
Songs hold special memories for all of us. There are songs that you hear and immediately say, "Remember when..." Music holds a unique ability to make tears spring to your eyes or a smile spread across your face. So, it holds true that when you are having a terrible day music can make you feel better. Even listening to depressing music can sometimes make you feel better, just by knowing that someone else has been through the same things.
I prefer to listen to happy music, though. Below is a list of songs that would make me feel better during my tough school year last year.
- "Forget You" Cee Lo Green
- "No Rain" Blind Melon
- "Don't Worry, Be Happy" Bobby McFerrin
- "Come on Eileen" Dexys Midnight Runners
- "Happy Happy, Joy Joy" Ren and Stimpy (don't judge me...)
- "Crazy Game of Poker" OAR
Feel free to suggest your own feel-good songs!
#6 Talk to Someone Older
Frank Lloyd Wright once said, "The longer I live, the more beautiful life becomes." I think that this quote illustrates the importance of having an older person whom you can turn to when times are tough. I think that as people get older, they are more able to see the silver lining in difficult situations. When something sad happens in my life, I always call my mom because I know that she will be more levelheaded and rational than I could ever be.
The last time that I called her was to talk about a friend of mine who had a death in the family. My mom was able to give me some advice on being there for my friend. She also told me about a personal experience in which she didn't know quite what to do for her friend. She was sympathetic, empathetic, and wise, which young friends don't always know how to be.
#5 Go Outdoors
There is something to be said for sitting inside, watching television, and eating ice cream. Sometimes vegging in front of the T.V., like reading a book, can take you to a different place and help you forget your problems. However, watching T.V. can't help you actually get away from your problems.
Hiking, rafting, jogging, and even going for a long scenic drive can clear your head. Hiking in the mountains, for example, can help you remember that there are so many things in the world that are bigger than you, and even bigger than your troubles. It can also remind you that there is still beauty in the world, even when things seem so ugly.
My recommendation is to force yourself to get out of the house, get out of your head, and get outside, even if it's just to run around the block.
#4 Work Out
This is the probably the most common suggestion. Oh, you feel like crap? Go to the gym; you'll feel exhausted and better! Believe me, I know that when you're sad it's harder than any other time to get out and do something. So, I don't mean that you have to go to the gym or run until you can't breath. You just need to get UP and get OUT. Call your friends (who will definitely be willing to help. Everyone always says "let me know if I can do anything," so tell them this is what they can do) and put together a touch football game or a pool party.
You need to do something to get your blood flowing and to increase your endorphins. I personally recommend Zumba or some other type of dance class. Maybe it's just me, but dancing makes me look ridiculous, which makes me smile :)
#3 Hang Out with a Good Friend
You know it's a bad day when you go to the gym and end up at the bar. Some days, even though you know those great endorphins will make you feel better, all you need is a good drink and a friendly ear. No matter what the situation is, your friends are always on your side.
When you're going through something awful, it helps to have someone there who will always take your side, even if they don't necessarily understand. My family went through a hard time a few years ago when my dad had some legal issues. It was a hard situation for any of my friends to understand because none of them had ever been through something like it. Even though they couldn't really empathize with what i was going through, just listening to me and supporting me was more than enough
I am a Christian, and I realize that not everyone who reads this is Christian or religious at all. I am not trying to alienate those people. I respect people who worship in all different ways, and I would like to learn more about faiths that I don't really understand. Maybe you place your faith in God or nature or logic or science. Whatever you place your faith in, when something terrible happens everyone craves answers.
It doesn't matter what you believe, when things are tough you need to turn to what you know. For me, that's Christianity. When I am overwhelmed and questioning everything, sometimes I need to be quiet and to ask God for guidance. Praying is the best way for me to talk to someone who will always, 100% understand me and what I'm going through
The best thing to do to make yourself feel better is to help someone else. When I was in college I had a really bad breakup immediately before a service trip to Colorado. I was upset and completely focusing on myself.
When we arrived in Colorado we spent the day serving in a soup kitchen. The lunch service that we provided showed me how trivial my problems are in the grand scheme of things. Homelessness and poverty overwhelmed me, and I realized that there were more people in the world with problems larger than my own. My Denver experience is something that I wish for everyone. It is harder to focus on our own problems when we realize that there is so much more going on in the world.