Everyone has bad days; but when you are depressed or your bad days start to outnumber your good days, it can be harder to get yourself back on track. I’m lucky. I like to think that I’m doing pretty good right now. I have more good days than bad, and that’s a huge improvement from just months ago. I have a roommate that is a super positive person and she’s a good influence on me. Some days it’s only the expectations of others that get you out of bed, you know?
Yesterday and today though, have been particularly difficult for me for some reason. So today, as I struggled, I found myself grasping for the tools I have been using to help me stay positive, and I thought I’d share some of them with you.
When I’m struggling, my first step is to know that I am struggling. I would sometimes go for weeks in a deep depression and I would just stay there because I didn’t realize that’s where I was. I find that in my sadness I would drag myself deeper by embracing those negative emotions and justify them to myself by wallowing in all of the things that were wrong in my life. Now if I start feeling that way, I usually notice it right away and take steps to pull myself out of it. Practice this step and you’ll find yourself noticing the change almost immediately as I do.
Now that I’ve noticed what’s happening, instead of wallowing in the mire I start thanking God for all that I have right now. And don’t think that it’s just about the big stuff. I mean, giving thanks for even the little stuff can help pull you through. Diet Pepsi in the fridge? Thank you God for the Diet Pepsi in the fridge. Really. Thank God for a little thing like that? Six months ago I was lucky to get Diet Pepsi once a month in the fridge; and I really like Diet Pepsi, so you bet your bottom dollar I’m thanking Him for that “little thing” in my life.
When you start doing your “Thank you Gods” it’s nice to stop what you’re doing, find some quiet so you can concentrate. But you don’t have to go somewhere special to do them. You can do it as you’re walking to the bus, sitting in your car waiting for the light to change or doing your grocery shopping. Remembering what you have pulls you away from what you do NOT have and helps to lift your mood.
Sometime though, I can have a particularly hard time with giving thanks. I find at those times it helps to be firm with myself. I’ll find my inner thoughts going something like:
Thank you God for the pillow beneath my head…but the bed is really hard. Thank you God for my health…but I need to lose weight. Thank you God for the transit system in my town…but I really need a car.
You get the picture. Don’t be discouraged if you do this to yourself sometimes. Just be firm. Think of even more things to be grateful for and don’t linger on those negative thoughts.
I have a playlist called “Inspirational” and I put it on whenever I need a lift. There is truth in that old saying “music hath charms to soothe the savage breast.” I find that when I put on music I like, or uplifting, positive music, that I slowly become calm and my mood shifts. I’m sure you’ll have your own ideas about what music might work this magic for you, but I’ll share a couple of songs that are especially positive and help me shift my mind’s focus:
I’ve Got The World On A String – Michael Buble
Walking On Sunshine – pick the artist of your choice
Somewhere Over The Rainbow – I like Ray Charles’ version but you choose!
If You’re Going Through Hell – Rodney Atkins
and (don’t laugh) The Climb – Miley Cyrus
The point is, find out what works for you. I started my list by going through my library of music and pulling music that I know is positive, has an upbeat tempo or makes me want to sing and dance. After I did that I googled “uplifting playlist,” “positive music” and so on. You really would be amazed at the stuff you can find online. You can also google for lyrics with specific phrases, or you could even poll your friends on Facebook! Whatever it takes, find what moves you to be happy, smile, sing and dance.
I used to be a prolific writer. From a young age I kept a diary and wrote in whenever I really needed to get those emotions out. Kind of like emotional purging. To do this though, you have to find what is most comfortable for you. You might want to get something special to write in, a special pen or start a private blog for yourself. The point is to find out what works for you.
Remember that it doesn’t have to be perfect; it doesn’t even have to make sense or be only words! Most recently I’ve been just completely unable to write for any length of time. It didn’t matter if I was sitting in the backyard or at the computer – I still couldn’t get the words to come. So I decided to take a page from one of my favorite magazines, Cloth Paper Scissors and started an art journal. Now if you think you want to try this method, don’t be intimidated. No one expects you to publish your journal. But I have found that when I’m down it helps me to express myself in a positive way. So I find a quote or a phrase that works for me and use that as a focus to create my page. You could even just focus on a single word.
My new art journal isn’t fancy. I went to my local bookstore and purchased a set of three Moleskine notebooks with brown plain paper covers and graph paper inside. Cost me less than $10. And I don’t use fancy paints to create my pages – yet. I started off using a regular #2 pencil and my set of Crayola colored pencils. If you don’t have those, you could even just pull out the crayons and a piece of scrap paper. The point is to express yourself, not make a masterpiece.
I will admit to being inspired by the pages I saw in the magazine and find myself wanting to stretch my legs artistically and so I purchased some oil pastels and charcoal pencils to play with and am hoping to purchase some watercolor pencils soon. But that’s me and being artistic calms and centers me. Believe me, I am in no way an artist, (see a couple of my journal pages below). But I still encourage you to express yourself any way you feel comfortable. Whether that’s a $30 journal with a $50 pen or a $.30 Bic stick pen and a $1 spiral bound notebook…whatever gets you expressing those emotions is what you should be doing.
Well, this sure turned out long! I’m happy to say that my personal tactic of blogging about this helped. I’m in a pretty good mood now! I hope that you find these tips useful and I hope to post more about the various tools I use to stay positive and moving forward and upward in my life! I’ll leave you with a quote that maybe you could use to do some journaling:
“Always make a total effort, even when the odds are against you.” – Arnold Palmer