Life can be hard. There’s not a single person reading this who would disagree with that statement. Sure it’s beautiful and we should always try to focus on the joy. But sometimes it’s hard. I firmly believe that there are small choices we can make throughout our day to help us find more joy – to feel happy again. And they are much easier to do than you’d think. It’s amazing how the smallest decision can change your perspective.
Now I know I am probably offending someone with that first paragraph already. It seems like nobody can have an opinion or offer a suggestion to help another anymore without offending someone. If I’ve done that I’m sorry. I’m not suggesting that mental health isn’t serious. And I am certainly not suggesting that it’s not daunting for many who suffer with that illness. But I still believe that we can make choices each day to make our life better. I have to believe that. And frankly, that’s been my personal experience.
Change May Be Needed
When I was younger, my inner monologue was pretty unkind. Honestly, it still is, but it’s getting better. If you don’t know what I mean by an inner monologue – do you ever hear a negative inner voice telling you that you are not worthy? Maybe it tells you that you could never do what someone else did. Maybe it tells you that you’ll never be able to loose the weight. Maybe it tells you that you aren’t as pretty, or as successful, or as smart as someone else. Yeah, you know what I’m talking about. Because we all have it!
Let me tell you something – that inner voice has more power over us than we’d like to admit. That inner voice influences our mood, our balance and our ability to stay centered in the joy that exists in our life. My inner voice was brutally unkind for a long time. Like I said, it’s getting better, but I’ve still got a long way to go.
My Journey With Depression
About half-way through law school I became pretty depressed. I went to a doctor convinced I must have some serious disease like cancer because I felt so off physically. I had no appetite and no energy and I could barely wake up each morning. I felt as though I would die of exhaustion if I tried to walk to class and get through my day. It was a low point in my life. I was diagnosed with clinical depression and I took medication and got myself back on track. If you’re hurting that much, talk to your doctor. I can’t help you with that level of emotional pain.
But in my journey, I learned that I had not taken very good care of myself leading up to that diagnosis. The crazy part was that the depression was not a reflection of my happiness as much as a reflection of the longstanding stress I’d been under. Our bodies are not meant to be subjected to prolonged stress. And I had battered my body with poor diet, lack of sleep, prolonged study sessions and emotional pressure of trying to succeed.
After that happened, I was more aware as I began to head down that path again. I am not suggesting that I discovered a cure for depression. But I certainly am more self-aware when I am putting myself through too much stress. I have learned to prioritize my own self-care.
8 Things to do to Feel Happy Again
I want to share some of my go-to list of things I try to do frequently throughout my week to avoid a downward spiral. Some of these tips are meant to pull me out of a funk emotionally and some are meant to bring balance to my life as a whole. Some stress in life we cannot control and some we can. These are some of the ways I try to balance my stress.
This is one of the top things on the list because I think it is so incredibly important.
Not only does it give us some time to checkout mentally from the stress of our life, but it gets our blood pumping. There is something that happens to the body when we give our bodies that push physically. We get a rush of chemicals in the brain that can improve mood. Ever heard of a runner’s high? It’s a legit thing. Our blood gets pumping which not only supports healthy weight, but it can regulate your energy levels.
Not to mention the benefits for cardiovascular health and other disease. Getting active stimulates our digestive tract in the short-term and so regular activity can maintain a healthier digestive system. And we are only beginning to learn more about how important digestive health is to overall wellness. Doctors are even beginning to look at ties between gut health and mental health.
I don’t know all the scientific pieces between why it works, but I know that it does help. It helps me a lot.
Listening to my favorite playlist does amazing things for my mood.
Sometimes we need to shift our focus away from our own worries and troubles. Music takes me to a place where I’m a dreamer and I let the lyrics carry my mind to a new place. It reminds me of all the positive experiences to remind me that I can feel happy again. It can be incredibly freeing and liberating to just give our mind a rest. Exercise has a similar affect on me – put the two together and that right there is why I love to take long runs. My feet hit the pavement, my favorite tunes are pumping through my headset and I can leave it all on the pavement.
(3) Dance it out.
This is a secret I stole from one of my favorite television series (Grey’s Anatomy). When my kids are in a funk (okay sometimes we are right there with them) and everyone seems to be edgy, we will crank up the stereo with a fun throw-back tune and dance it out. If you’re a Grey’s fan you know what I mean. By the end of one song, we’re giggling or belly-laughing with exhaustion. And everyone feels reset. I don’t think you can do this one and not feel happy again within minutes. Trust me – it’s totally worth trying!
(4) The list.
We all have one. The list of things we know we should do (or need to do) but it just hangs over our head week after week.
Maybe it’s a picture we need to hang, maybe it’s a work project we need to simply tackle and finish, or maybe it’s a big project like reorganizing and cleaning a kids room. Whatever the task may be, there’s nothing like the feeling of accomplishment we get when it’s done. And there’s nothing like clearing that list.
Procrastination robs us of day-to-day happiness if we’re constantly staring down a list of things that make us feel like a failure. When my list starts to weigh on me and I recognize that it’s lingering in my thoughts more than it should be – I take a sheet of paper out. I write down all the things that are bugging me and I make a note next to each one. I note whether it’s a quick or a lengthy time commitment to get it done. Then I commit to completing one simple task each day for a week and one big task the following week. At the end of 2 weeks, my entire mental outlook has shifted.
At least once a week, do something to indulge yourself.
Fill your cup as my best friend always says. The saying goes that you can’t fill other people’s cup if yours is empty. In other words, if you are frazzled and angry and bitter, you cannot be a good friend, wife, mother or whatever it is you are to other people.
So take an hour to lounge in a hot bath with a book and a good glass of wine. Take an hour to get a pedicure with a friend. Indulge in a massage once a month. Whatever floats your boat, just do it. Do something that makes you feel happy again – even if just for a little while. The cost (time and money) doesn’t compare to the cost of a nervous breakdown my friend.
(6) Rest & Recharge.
Sometimes, we need to recognize that we simply need more rest.
Most studies have found that 7 hours is the sweet spot for a healthy amount of sleep for an adult. Children obviously needing more because their bodies are still growing and developing. I wish I could say that I consistently get 7 hours of sleep.
The reality is that between the demands of life (getting to bed late or needing to be up early to get a start on my day), interruptions (kids waking me up with night terrors, bed-wetting accidents, and the occasional stomach flu vomiting episode), and then of course the joys of occasional insomnia, I rarely get a consistent 7 hours. Most days I hover around 6 hours.
Getting an hour less that I need day after day, week after week, takes its toll. Sometimes we just need a guilt-free day to binge-watch our favorite show or movie series.
Whether you call it meditation, a time out or self-reflection, take time each day to assess your life.
There are only 24 hours in each day. If you spend them serving others and not serving the future you want, you will go to bed unhappy. Did you spend enough time on self-care? Did you spend enough time with your kids? Did you work enough to have the life you want? These are often the source of most unhappiness for us. It’s amazing how listing out our priorities in life and reflecting on what we need to do to prioritize our future can do for our perspective. And we need to do those things to feel happy again.
Taking a moment to reflect and consciously recognizing that we control the choices we make (what to prioritize) changes you. It’s best to do this in the morning, when you have a fresh day before you. Whether you read the bible, journal, or just close your eyes and reflect, start each day for a week this way to see what it does for you.
When I do this in the mornings, I go to bed happier. I usually haven’t conquered the world as I had hoped I would, but I am content with the fact that I was conscious and aware that I was making choices for myself and my family.
This one also goes along with self-reflection.
Breathing a pure and therapeutic-grade essential oil into our body has a calming and grounding effect that helps to center us. Aromatherapy helps me immensely each day in keeping myself centered. I am not suggesting that breathing oils in makes all my cares in the world disappear – but there is some science behind it all. Aromatherapy can influence our body’s frequency. You can learn more about it here.
And above all else – aromatherapy sure takes the edge off – which helps a heck of a lot. And sometimes we only need a little nudge to redirect our brain and allow ourselves to feel happy again.
Stopping to smell the oils is amazing. And I keep my diffuser going by my desk all day long to help keep me emotionally balanced. I’m working on some educational opportunities to help more of you with this so watch for this to be coming soon if you’re subscribed to receive our content.
What Are You Going to Do to Find Your Happiness Again?
So there you have it. That list contains my 8 golden rules of survival. I am an entrepreneur (I run two home-based businesses). I also have five boys. So my life can be incredibly challenging. There are never enough hours in the day for me.
I’ve learned that without a way to stay centered on what matters, I am floundering around without any purpose. That leads to a pretty miserable existence because we’re always too far away from the present and future we want. Trust me when I say that I’ve been there friends.
I hope you try one or all 8 of these tips to feel happy again. Let me know what you think. I hope they help you as much as they have helped me!