21 ways to beat a bad mood

The following is a list of my favorite solutions to fix a bad mood and beat a bad day.  Often, it’s best to do more than one and build on each until you feel better and better – onward and upward, out of that funk!

1. Take a deep breath.  Often when we feel low or stressed, we take shallow breaths that rob our bodies of oxygen and make us feel tense and closed, instead of expansive.  I like to take a slow breath and imagine that I’m trying to draw the air all the way down into my toes and then exhale slowly.  Do at least three and then then come up with the next action you can take to feel better.

2. Check in with the present moment. Where is your energy going right now?  What are you giving it to?  Are you feeling low because you are focusing on something negative from the past? Are you focusing on a fear of something in the future, that may or may not happen? Bring your mind back to the present, to RIGHT NOW. I frequently find that nothing is wrong with the present moment.  Either fretting or being happy in it is my choice.  Happiness is always a choice. It takes practice, but choosing happiness is a skill worth cultivating.

3. Do something good for someone else.  Think about the last thing you did for someone that made them smile and upped their happiness.  How did that make you feel?

4. Meditate. Do your favorite meditation, or look up a new one online and see what resonates with you. Kundalini yoga offers many excellent meditations for depression such as this meditation for a positive mind.

5. Eat a salad.  This sounds so simple, but is probably my favorite easy way to make myself feel better instantly. I don’t know if it’s putting nature’s green goodness, full of all that glorious sun-energy right down into my core that does it or what, but it’s never failed me. This trick was even first suggested to me by someone who was not spiritual or even a healthy eater.  He said when  he feels off he has a salad and then he feels better. Try it. Note the trick here is to eat some GREENS and hopefully some vegetables too.  Not a bowl of ranch dressing and cheese with a few shreds of iceberg lettuce thrown in there.

6. Play with an animal.  Animals live completely in the present moment.  They don’t worry, and they know how to be silly and take a load off without worrying about what anyone thinks.  Go spend some time with one and let it teach you. Bonus points if it’s a puppy or kitten.  I believe that baby animals are so dang cute because they just arrived here and are still carrying that fresh Source energy.

7. Make a gratitude list.  List anything and everything you can think of and really spend a few moments feeling heartfelt gratitude for each.  I keep a gratitude journal by my bed and try to write down 5 things I am thankful for every night as I go to sleep.  I’ve done this for years so I now have multiple notebooks full of thousands of things I can go back and look over when I need a reminder of all the abundance in my life.  Start with small things such as your favorite food or fresh air or comfy pillows; big things such as the love of your partner or children; or, things we may take for granted such as I can see, I can read, I can write. The sky is the limit and I hope you will find that you have thousands of things to be grateful for too.

8. Get a massage. This one is pretty self-explanatory. These not only feel amazing, but massage flips the switch on the sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight mode – engaged when we are stressed) and engages the parasympathetic nervous system where we can relax and allow production of our body’s feel-good chemicals.

9. Sing/chant. Chanting is an ancient way to energize the chakras and move stuck energy within the body. You can choose to chant a simple seed syllable such as “Om” or look up a Kundalini mantra that resonates with you. You can also freestyle it and and begin by making the vowel sounds (aaaaa, eeeee, iiiii, ooooo, uuuuu). Experiment with deep, resonant sounds that you slowly raise, extend and increase in volume. Feel the vibration move through your body as you change the sound you make. Experiment with keeping your teeth together or apart and feel your forehead and frontal lobe tingling. Our frontal lobe contains dopamine-sensitive neurons so stimulating this area with sound vibration has the potential to make us feel really good. I also like to just sing, especially in the car. Singing along to songs, even if you have to make yourself do it helps to stop our mind from worrying and gives us a break so we can begin to create and build on more positive thoughts.

10. Listen to uplifting music. Music has the power to shift our vibration on it’s own. I have a playlist called “vibration elevation” for when I need a boost. Some of my favorites are Shimshai’s I sense your presence or Fortunate by Guru Singh (and Seal!). Kundalini yoga music is great. Snatam Kaur’s Suni-ai (Listening Celebration) is very soothing to my soul. Satkirin Kaur Khalsa also has some great mantras for dissolving negativity and overcoming depression on her Sacred Kiss album.

11. Dance. Movement is very powerful. Sometimes we become stuck in our bodies and our emotions get locked inside. You may not know how easy it is to release them physically. Gabrielle Roth developed a movement practice called 5 rhythms which has been enormously helpful for me. You can watch a good video on it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8cYYzcTzm6Y. It may seem silly at first, so you may want to try this when no one is around. I have done 5 rhythms workshops where a whole room dances a wave over the course of several hours. Very transformative stuff!

12. Yoga. You can look up “yoga for depression” and find other suggestions, but one of my favorite things to do that is so, so easy is Breath of Joy. Anyone can do it and it always makes me smile or even laugh. Yoga instructor, Caroline Young says, “In a nutshell, Breath of Joy is three inhalations and one exhalation- first inhale with arms out in front at shoulder height, second inhale with arms out to the side like wings, third inhalation with arms way up over head and one exhale with knees bending and arms sweeping back behind the body with a sigh, grunt or a scream.” Do this 5-10 times and see how you feel!

13. Just accept it. Sometimes we just have to experience the discomfort and make peace with it. When this happens, I like to tell myself that I will take it easy, do my best to take care of ME and know that tomorrow will be a better day. I usually clear my schedule of everything that I deem to be an obligation (putting yourself first is crucial to have the strength to actually make tomorrow be better and beat this thang), eat a salad to get in some nourishing vitamins, and make sure to get to bed really, really early. The next day is always better and I have the strength to keep myself afloat and mentally strong.

14. Clean something. Cleanliness really does seem to be next to Godliness. Sometimes when I feel crappy, I attack the bathroom with a vengeance. Our outer state is a refection of our inner state, so physically scrubbing away something gross and being left with something beautiful and sparkly that smells fresh and clean really works for me. It has the added bonus of making me feel productive, accomplished and less like a mopey bum.

15. Watch a funny movie or video. I really like Buddy Cop movies. I could watch the Bad Boys movies with Will Smith and Martin Lawrence or the Rush Hour movies with Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker over and over again. They make me feel good and when I feel low, they serve as a good distraction. If you don’t have time for a movie, try comedy videos on YouTube. I confess that I sometimes watch them at work when I feel like I might go postal.

16. Hot bath or water therapy. A nice bath, with some candles and calming music does wonders for me. I love to listen to Snatam Kaur’s Suni-ai Listening Celebration (see #10 above). Many people also find relief from soaking in epsom salt to draw out tension and toxins.

17. Get outside – take a walk! Going outside is a good change of scenery, and often helps to change our perspective. Plus, fresh air is so, so good for you.  Imagine if you were stuck inside forever and deprived of it.  That would just suck, no? Go out there and take some cleansing breaths, give thanks for that air, appreciate some greenery and the beauty all around you and get your blood moving while you’re at it.

18. Sit on the ground.  Grounding or “Earthing” allows us to connect electrically with the Earth.  The Earth is an abundant source of negatively charged electrons, helping to balance the positive charge generate by cell phones and towers, wireless routers, our home electrical appliances, etc.  Skin contact is best, but if you can’t walk barefoot on the earth, just plant your bum and let Mother Earth give you strength. Most clothing is at least semi-conductive, especially with the subtle moisture from our bodies. You can also rest your hands on the grass for extra contact. I do this at work all the time.

19. Call your Rock. When I need a mental reset, I call my sis.  She always has loads of encouraging things to say when I am down. Don’t call that person who wants to commiserate in your misery or agree with you that life is hard. Call the one who reminds you of how you have always overcome every obstacle no matter how hard it seemed at the time, how far you’ve come and how easy it all was looking back.

20. Do some affirmations. Outloud is best but to yourself works too. Anything that follows the words “I AM” really grounds that vibration into your being. I like to repeat, “I am well.” “Or, I am free of stress and worry.” Make them up. Have fun. I hear people say “I am tired” or things like “I am so depressed.” Even if we aren’t saying them outloud, we are telling our bodies what state to be in.  It’s time to re-write that dialogue.

21. Go to sleep.  Often I find that our bodies are begging for rest. You may think your body can get by on 6 hours a night but is that with you pushing it? Do you wake up and bounce out of bed? If not, then you probably need more.  9.5 hours per night is my personal requirement. These days we cope with so much stressful external stimuli: unhealthy food, toxic people, stressful jobs and commutes, deadlines, and making sure our kids are taken care of…our body requires much more recovery time than we think.  We listen to our mind and not our body. When I am experiencing a less-than-ideal mood, sometimes the best thing to do is sleep it off.  The bad mood is often my body’s message to tell me to get some Zzz’s.

 

Banish negative thoughts and incline your mind toward joy

Policing

Something I work on frequently is turning a negative headspace into a positive one as quickly as possible.  I know that my thoughts create my reality, so I work hard to “police” them.  Offenders are quickly nabbed and rehabilitated in order to prevent a potentially dangerous situation for my well-being.  If we don’t keep them in check, our negative thoughts can snowball and lead us into self-doubt, fear, resentment, depression and a host of other states of mind that make us feel bad as well as attract more of the same into our experience.

 

Yesterday was a day of testing for me.  I encountered several roadblocks to happiness, culminating in a near-fight with my boyfriend right before I went to bed.   I had to get up very early yesterday morning so I had planned to get some proper rest by going to bed at 9pm last night.  I didn’t get home until 8 so I only had an hour to unwind, get ready for bed (and for the next day) and to spend a little time with my man.  We started talking about our day and in the course of a conversation, one of us hit a sore spot.  Although it wasn’t exactly hostile or even an argument, both of us bristled and the conversation took a turn where it did not feel loving or joyous. I asked if we could talk about something more pleasant and he agreed, but there was still a palpable tension in the air so we went into separate rooms and we didn’t really talk at all after that. By this time it was almost 9 so I had to go to bed.  He took a phone call and it was evident that it was going to extend past 9:00 so I had two choices: I could go to bed silently and angrily and, as a result wake up in that same mood, or I could take steps to turn it around.  I decided I would go kiss him on the face and quietly say goodnight so as not to interrupt his conversation, and to ensure that our last interaction for the day was positive.

No one can make you feel anything, unless you let them.

I kissed him and we said a quick goodnight and then I went to bed.  As I lay down to sleep, I still felt irritated.  I told him earlier in the day that I had felt frustrated and was having to try hard to fight it. Part of me was miffed that he didn’t take that into account and give me some grace – in the few minutes I had with him after a bad day it would have been nice to have had a warm and comforting conversation instead of an unpleasant disagreement over something trivial.   I realized how negative of a thought this was. With the kiss, I had corrected my actions and inclined my behavior toward the positive, but now I had to work on my thoughts. I had read this article earlier which really spoke to me, especially where the author writes that a Jungian therapist said to her, “Well, y’know, no one can make you feel anything, unless you let them.” I was attributing my bad mood in part to something someone else (in this case, my boyfriend) did or did not do, but in reality, as always, my feelings and the resulting state I found myself in were MY choice, and it was MY responsibility to change them if I was unhappy.

No time like the present. (It’s a gift).  

This is when it’s important to check in with the present moment, which I have found to be a slippery beast. The brain somehow always likes to go forward, or backward or sideways, focusing on the future, the past, or on someone or something other than the NOW.  Something I learned from Eckhart Tolle’s book The Power of Now  is that, most likely, nothing is wrong with the present moment. If it is, he says we essentially have only two choices: accept it or change it. He encourages us to touch base with our five senses to come back to the present, to our state of being RIGHT NOW. I checked in with my five senses: Sight – it was a bit bright in my room due to a light on right outside the bedroom, so I got up and turned it off. Smell – my sheets smelled nice and clean and comforting. Sound – it was very quiet and peaceful in my room. Touch – my bed felt incredibly good after a long day, soft and supportive and exactly where I wanted to be at that moment. Taste didn’t really apply here, but I wasn’t thirsty or feeling anything else that would distract me from noticing just how great I found the present moment to be upon examination.  I was drowsy and ready for sleep in a clean and comfy bed, in a dark and quiet room. Really, what was there to be irritated about? There were folks who had it much worse off than me, and I was starting to feel like a pampered princess in her palace as my head sank into my fluffy pillow.

I could have stayed awake and mulled over the conversation and the whys and hows and whodunits and could have blown the whole thing way out of proportion.  I could have made myself absolutely miserable until I fell asleep and probably had stressful dreams and woke up just as cranky, in other words prolonging the misery for as long as possible and continuing to make an issue out of it well into the next day if I kept it up. Or, I could choose happiness and think nice thoughts that turn it all around: No one is at fault here. A grumpy convo came and went and it wasn’t even that bad. He loves me and I love him. We ended the night with a kiss. The Universe loves me and has empowered me with the ability to control my own mind and not let silly little things get me down. I’m going to get a great night’s sleep in this sweet-smelling fluffy cloud of a bed and wake up rested with a smile on my face, with all the love in the world to give in return.  Hmm. The choice was clear.  I arrested those bad thoughts and got them off the streets in a hurry.

Stay tuned for my next blog post on what to do when you just can’t seem to turn that frown upside down.

Peace and love,

Mercedi

Be at peace with it (whatever happens)

This morning when I arrived at work, I swiped my badge at the back door as usual, but the door didn’t unlock.  There is no one directly inside this door, so knocking would not have helped.  I tugged on the door and tried again several times before I gave up and resigned myself to the fact that I was going to have to walk around the building to the other door in the cold.

There was a time when I would have let this get to me. I would have been frustrated, probably would have taken it personally (why does this always happen to me) and would have stomped around the building in a huff, letting this very small thing set a negative tone for my whole day. Instead, I decided to mentally reframe the setback and view it as positive instead of negative. I asked myself questions such as:  Why was I in such a hurry to get to my desk?  What was I really losing in the two minutes it takes get to that other door? Is there anything I am gaining? My answers almost surprised me – I was gaining at least 4 things!  In being locked out of my usual door, I was able to enjoy 2 more minutes of sunshine, 2 more minutes of fresh air, and get a little extra exercise.  Plus, I got to pat myself on the back for “not sweating the small stuff.”

If I were to have let this get me down, by the time the next small thing came along, it could have easily created an avalanche of negativity and turned my day very sour.  Instead, I walked in with a smile on my face, fueled by that extra (and unexpected) shot of happiness.

This is just an example of how important it is to make remaining in a state of peace our priority.  Life throws some crazy things at us.  Sure, this might be harder to do with much larger things than getting locked out, but when we practice our skills on the trivial things, then the significant curve balls life throws become much less threatening.  There’s always a silver lining to any situation.  We just have to look for it. As Wayne Dyer, one of my favorite authors, says, “Change the way you look at things, and the things you look at change.”

Peace,

Mercedi

Valentine’s Day

99 Red Heart Balloons

Valentine’s Day Love Day

Valentine’s Day often gets a bad rap.  What is Valentine’s Day anyway? A celebration of martyrdom?  A plot devised by the card/candy/jewelry companies to get us to spend money?  A way to make single people keenly aware of their lack of companionship?

I love Valentine’s Day, and I’m going to tell you why.  Out of all the things we celebrate, why should we not have a day to celebrate LOVE? Love is the highest form of energy, the highest law.  In a way, it’s the driving force behind most of the other holidays we observe in the U.S.  We celebrate the things we love as a collective people: Jesus, our country, those who have served our country, and those who have made a difference by honoring them with their own day on our calendar. How much more so should we be celebrating the emotion that fuels the recognition of these things, people and events?

I’m not solely talking about romantic love, either.  Love is a broad emotion and takes many forms.  I always include my mom and my sister on Valentine’s Day, but why stop there?  We can celebrate the love we have for our pets, for our health, for our friends, for the planet, for ice cream…whatever it is that YOU love right now. The sky is truly the limit.

Sure, chocolate companies profit off of the day but people are going to find a way to profit from all kinds of things.  That doesn’t mean we should let that take away from what the holiday is truly about, to me at least.  I celebrate this holiday as Love Day.

To close, I will leave you to ponder this beautiful thought by the poet Hafiz:

Even after all this time
The sun never says to the earth
“You owe me”
Look what happens with a love like that
It lights the whole sky

Happy Love Day,

Mercedi