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iStock 000008379558XSmallWe all feel a little flat from time to time or notice an unwelcome emotional response to whatever.  The most important thing to know about emotions is that they are not totally out of our control.  Perhaps, like me, you're inclined to sometimes forget the bloody obvious when you feel yuk.  Here are a dozen practical and simple things we can all do to lift our mood.

1. Change your physiology.  If you were an actor and I asked you to make yourself feel sad for the part you're playing, you'd need to change your physiology.  You might slump and slouch, breath shallowly, look down, do stuff with your face, not move much and so on.  Try it and see how you feel.  Now, try smiling, (can be as fake as you like), standing or sitting very straight, moving playfully, breathing deeply from your tummy, putting your arms out with your palms up, and see if you can still feel sad that way.  What if you dance or laugh?  What if you stick your finger up your nose?  Remember, something as simple as sitting straight, brathing deeply and smiling can make a huge difference to your emotional state.

2. Acknowledge yourself.  Ask yourself right now, what can you thank yourself for from the last 24 hours or the last 24 years?  There will be something - maybe you made yourself a great cup of tea this morning, maybe you're happy with what you found to watch on TV last night, maybe it was cool how you gave directions to someone while you were shopping, maybe you know you've done some great  things for your kids, maybe you like the shoes your'e wearing, maybe you coped really well with some criticism or rudeness.  It's gets easier with practice.  Think it, say it to yourself, feel it, picture it.  Smile and say to yourself "good job emtying the rubbish bin, well done".  This is about learning to notice the positive about ourselves.

 

3. Set yourself up to get plenty of sleep.  A comfy pillow, clean sheets, lovely pyjamas, a soothing drink, reading a novel, listening to music, a warm bath, whatever you can do, and lights off at a reasonable time.  I use hypnotic or meditation recordings on my iPhone or iPod sometimes if my brain won't shut up - works a treat.  Create happy associations with sleep and learn to value it and relish it.  It all works better when we're well rested.

 

4.  Move your body!  Take the dog for a walk, put on some music and dance around the house, go to the gym, a yoga class, a dance class, use the Wii fitness thing, scrub something, clean the floors - anything.  Getting your blood moving around get toxins cleared and releases the hormones we need for a better mood.  Include some fresh air and sunshine if you can.

5. Have a laugh.  Watch something funny on TV or get a funny movie to watch, or even search for comedy on YouTube.  Funny cats does it for me!  Tell a joke, be silly, do a silly walk.  Remember something really funny.  You're not gonna lift your mood watching the news or cop shows.

6. Do something randomly kind for no reason.  Go out of your way to deliberately do a good deed, however small.  Getting your attention and focus off yourself and onto others works a treat.  Whether it's charity work or just smiling at someone who looks like they could use it, it's all good.

7. Feed your body.  Fuel yourself with water and decent food, and that includes some fresh vegetables and some good quality protein.  With the materials it needs to work with, your body is always doing all it can to keep things running well, including the hormones that regulate your mood.

8.  Avoid stuff which is likely to bring you down, like negative people, the news, sad things on TV, reminders of sad things.  Look for experiences and company which are uplifting.

9. Touch things and use your hands.  Hug someone special, pat your pets, knead some dough, pick some flowers, do some crochet or knitting, play your sport, paint or draw - getting into something kinesthetic can be a great way to get the brain to shut up with the ruminating and have a positive sort of unconscious attention.

10. Be grateful.  Ask yourself what you appreciate, and look for things to appreciate and be grateful for every day.  You're alive, you can read, you have access to the internet - these things I know for sure about you.  It can be the weather, where you live, special people you have known or who are still in your life, pets, skills, comforts.  Again, this trains you to notice positive things.

11. Watch your language - whatever you say, whether out loud or to yourself, notice how you're expressing things, and look for ways to avoid saying what you don't want and instead say it how you do want it.  Watch out for generalizations, distortions, deletions, exaggerations and straight out bull.  Imagine you're a kindergarten teacher and mindful of always setting a good example.  Use language which expresses choice - instead of saying "I should" or "I have to", say "I get to", or "I can", or "I could".  Instead of asking questions about why things suck, ask yourself what you can do to improve things.

12.  What you focus on is what you get.  We are what we think about.  Whatever we think about, our unconscious mind goes looking for - for examples of it in the past and the present, opportunities in the present, possible ways of finding more of it.   A simple example is if you've just changed your car - you now notice cars just like yours all over the place which you hadn't noticed before.  By thinking about how we want things to be, good feelings, good outcomes, good things we've experienced in the past, good things right now, good things to come, we become a magnet for those things.  It's not magic, it's just how our brain works.  Hang around with happy people, expose yourself to happy experiences.

13. Ok, it's a baker's dozen.  Do something for a few minutes that you've been avoiding which is positive, like washing dishes, filing, tidying up, or solving a problem.  Just a few minutes.  Any small amount of progress is encouraging and nourishing.  Remember to thank yourself.

If you feel you are depressed severely and/or chronically, do seek out help, from your doctor, friends and family.  Google it, see what's available where you live.  Do what you can to help yourself, and get all the extra help you can too.  As you build your own emotional wellness toolkit, you'll be able to help others so much more, and that will make you feel better too.

Comments   

#1 v 2013-08-08 00:39
i read somewhere that if a person was to deliberately force themselves to be happy even if they aren't, for example say if you woke up grumpy or not good, providing that your health isn't bad. turn on some happy music look in the mirror and smile. tell yourself to be happy. make a conscientious effort and there is scientific proof that if you do this the brain automatically will create endorphin's and for this reason you will start feeling better. your brain mechanism sets off. try it for a week everyday. lie to yourself. it works for me. If someone ask how your feeling say great, not a lie but a way of making yourself agree with your own positive reinforcement.

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