by Wendy Keller
Everyone has sad, blue days sometimes. When the burdens of life pile up, or you’re exhausted from dealing with some seemingly-never-ending crisis, feeling blue is normal.
Here are some strategies and tips for coping with those kinds of days and putting yourself into a sunnier disposition:
1. Know that they happen to everyone. Nobody is cheery, upbeat and happy all the time, even if you’ve never seen them a little bit down.
2. Give yourself a break. It’s OK to not be Little Miss Sunshine 24/7. Don’t beat yourself up. You’re not “bad” or “weak”. But sad feelings that go on all day, or day after day, might mean you have depression. For that, try the techniques offered here and then seek medical attention.
3. Do a secret nice thing for yourself. You don’t have to tell anyone. You don’t have to involve anyone. It doesn’t have to cost money or even take much time. But do something just a tiny bit different, a tiny bit more self-loving, a tiny bit more self-caring. Some examples of what I do for myself when I’m feeling blue: Give myself an extra 10 minutes in a hot shower; take a walk in the garden in the middle of the work day; make myself a cup of tea; buy myself a bouquet of my favorite flowers; take extra time putting on my makeup and wear an outfit I know makes me look good; spend 15 minutes reading a book I love; or calling a friend.
4. Take a few deep breaths and realize that nothing ever stays the same. We ALL want the good things in life to last forever, and the bad things to go away – or not happen at all. The only real guarantee is change. If it’s bad, it will get good. If it’s good, well…you know already. This too shall pass.
5. Reach out to someone else. Sounds so incredibly dumb, but most of us know someone who is also going through a rough time. A divorce, a difficult child, a difficult life. Pick up the phone or sit down and write an email or a card. Showing compassion toward someone else is an amazing way to lift your own mood. I’ve no idea why this works, but it does.
6. Do One Thing Differently. Break your own routine. If you usually take the freeway, take a side street. If you usually go to lunch with the gang, go alone or eat at your desk. If you usually dress conservatively, wear something bold. If you usually cook dinner, order in. Why this works is fascinating: whenever we break our routine, our brain ruts get shaken up a tiny bit. They panic a little bit, like “Hey! What’s happening here?” And that shift in focus might be just enough to make you literally forget you’re feeling blue!
7. The 60 Second Homework Assignment. The effectiveness of this technique will freak you out! Take a sheet of paper – real paper, not on your computer. Using your opposite hand – the one you DO NOT write with – write down 5 things in your life that you are grateful for. It’s trippy – believe me! You don’t get extra points for penmanship on this one, so don’t worry. Just write down the 5 things that you are most happy about in your life right now. Even if they’re simple things. Air, water, food, sunshine. Friends, family, a job, a home, a car. Doesn’t matter. Make them things you really can be happy about, even for a microsecond. This works by scrambling your neural pathways. It’s super important you do it with the opposite hand, though, or it won’t work.
That’s it! Try it. See if it doesn’t bring a smile to your face, even on your blue day.