October 3, 2016

7 Bad Day Hacks to Lift Your Spirits

Last week was a string of terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days. Monday through Wednesday was a cold saga: no voice, epic sore throat, working from home, and taking a sick day. I was congested, sore, and miserable and am still recovering. Then, last Thursday, while I was taking a tight corner, I lost control of the car and jumped the curb. Unfortunately, jumping the curb resulted in a broken wheel (like, the thing snapped off the a-frame) and my first ticket. Awful. Just awful.

Written down, that doesn’t seem like enough to put me in the dumps (did I mention it’s been raining for days?). But I’ve been dealing with a lot of feelings of inadequacy, self-doubt, and poor behavior for the last few weeks. So with all of that piled on, it goes without saying that my overall feeling of being a hot mess is in overdrive. I’m feeling pretty sorry for myself to be honest.

So, when I asked Spencer, “What I should write about this week?” he said that I should tackle how to handle these rotten sorts of days (weeks, months, years). I’m not going to promise you that these tips will make anyone feel miraculously better. I’m not guaranteeing that you’ll be filled with a clear sense of purpose, meaning, and self-worth after trying them. But these are the things I’m going to do to be intentional about lifting myself up and administering some self-care. I hope you can try them out for yourself.

Paint My Nails

I love this quote from Regina Brett, “No matter how you feel, get up, dress up, show up, and never give up!”

These are the times when I least want to go the extra mile for my looks, but the most important. Even though I don’t always feel like it, putting some extra care into my appearance adds a pep to my step. This is not to impress or appease someone else – this is for me!

Science backs me up too. According to Professor Karen Pine, certain clothing has an impact on our confidence and self-esteem. In an interview with MailOnline, she said, “Putting on different clothes creates different thoughts and mental processes. My book aims to make people more aware of this, to understand how changing their clothes can change their mood and their thoughts.”

Now, I absolutely stink at painting my nails, so my friend Trang does them for me (she’s been giving me some pointers though!). I want to start practicing my so I can boost my mood when Trang isn’t around to fix them. Finished fingernails are a great recipe for feeling dainty!

So, do something that involves sprucing up. Take a shower, take a bath, do your makeup, do your hair, get a hair cut, try some new lipstick, get dressed up, or break out your favorite outfit. Go the extra mile, because you’re worth it.

Have a Dance Party

For me, dancing combines two great mood boosters: music and exercise. Not to mention that dancing itself is considered a mood- and esteem-booster too. Whenever I’m on the dance floor (or even my living room), I love just focusing on the music and the movement. I’ve learned to block out most of the other noise, and just express myself through dancing. That whole, dance like no one is watching thing? It works. Right now, my jam is Me Too. If that song comes on, I pretty much have to move.

So grab your girls, pick a spot, and just dance it out. If you’re not into clubs or crowds (which I’m not, by the way), definitely enjoy those tunes and moves by yourself. If dancing isn’t your forte, try out some yoga, light body weight exercises, or go for a walk.

Cuddle Cash

No, not dolla dolla bills. My collie, Cash. Human-animal relationships promote an abundance of health benefits like decreased blood pressure, feelings of loneliness, and even your cholesterol. When I spend time with my dog, I can feel the tension going away. Same thing happens when I pet my cats. Not to mention, I get that dose of love every time I come home to Cash wiggling at the door.

So, if you can, spend some time with your pet. If you don’t have a pet, visit a pet store or shelter and play with the critters there. If animals aren’t your cup of tea, try just being in nature. Sunshine and fresh air are great for your mood too.

Watch Funny YouTube Videos

This has always been a winner for me. A while ago, I realized how easy it was for awkward animals or Jimmy Fallon clips to boost my mood. There seems to be some merit to this. According to a study done by the Association for Psychological Science, watching a funny video can put you in a good mood, and help you think more creatively.

So here’s a collection of my favorite funny YouTube videos to make you happier and to help you be more productive: “Ew” with Taylor Swift, Android’s Friends Furever, this crazy little goat, Dear Kitten, Emus with Weasel Ball, & of course, Puppyhood.

BONUS! Two of my favorite inspirational videos: Jennifer Hudson’s rendition of Neverland at the Tony’s (which makes me cry every time) and this ode to Disney animation that gives me all the feels.

Take Time to Reenergize

As an introvert, people deplete my energy. After a bad day, that depletion rate goes up by 500%, especially when the people are not within my closest inner circle (which includes maybe 4 people to begin with). That means cancelling everything that involves meetings, groups, going out, or high-energy get-togethers in order to make space for quiet time. Then to reenergize, I need some pajamas,  a good book, show, or movie, and maybe some spouse snuggles (or my teddy bear).

If you’re an extrovert, forget all of that and go find as many people as you can. Clear up your schedule from the mundane tasks and get out there. Throw a party, go out with a friend, go dancing – just do something that’s loud and with lots of people.

Bottom line is, know thyself and free up your schedule to reenergize accordingly. 

Journal 

Journaling is one of my favorite pastimes, and science backs up its benefits. Writing about bad experiences can help you release negative emotions or at least decrease their intensity. Writing is also known to reduce stress, increase mindfulness (which is linked to happiness), develop emotional intelligence, boost memory and improve communication skills.

But sometimes, writing about too much negativity can increase your negativity. There have been times when I was writing about difficult situations that escalated my frustration, anger, or sadness. So, after addressing the bad experience, adjust your focus to gratefulness. Studies show that focusing on gratefulness can increase enthusiasm, attention, determination, and energy.

Start a journal or go back to an old one. Write down what you’re going through as well as what you’re thankful for. Write letters you need to write but never send, scenes that bring your joy, goals you want to accomplish, or bucket list items. And, feel free to write out your prayers.

Worship 

King David knew what it was like to have a bad day. A number of people tried to kill David, and he found himself on the run a time or two, enemies hot on his trail. Despite the danger, and despite his suffering on multiple fronts, David sought solace in God. Sometimes, his psalms were painful pleas for God to hear his cry, and sometimes he rejoiced in the Lord. Either way, he glorified God, and God held his hand through many things.

There is comfort in the arms of Jesus. Science has begun to connect increased spirituality with decreased depression, but few seem to be able to pinpoint the power of prayer and Bible Study accordingly. But it produces wonders.

God wants to give us the “peace of God, which passes all understanding” (Philippians 4:7). He might not answer why, but He can help us to live beyond the why. Jesus said that He came so that we might have life, and have it more abundantly (John 10:10). And if not even a sparrow falls without His notice (Matthew 10:29-31), then your bad day is of extreme importance to Him.

In her book Steps to Christ, my favorite Christian author writes, “Nothing that in any way concerns our peace is too small for Him to notice. There is no chapter of our experience that is too dark for Him to read; there is no perplexity too difficult for him to unravel… The relations between God and each soul are as distinct and full as though there were not another soul upon the earth to share His watchcare, not another soul for whom He gave His beloved Son.”

If that is the God we serve, why wouldn’t we want to take our deepest pains to Him? Talk through our troubles with Him?  Read the Words He has inspired and preserved for us?

So, grab your Bible, grab a journal, and worship God. Write down your pains and troubles. Illustrate around your favorite verses. Sing your favorite hymns and praise His name for all He is and all He has done. Study who Jesus is to you, what He has done, and why. He longs to relieve your spirit.

“Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon, you and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30.

What things do you use to turn a bad day around? Have any of these things worked for you? Add your recommendations and stories in the comments!

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