I woke up in a bad mood this morning. Not necessarily a grumpy or irritable kind of bad mood, more like the overwhelmed, crying into my steering wheel kind of bad mood. Most days, especially recently, I would have just let this attitude guide the rest of my day. I am sad and anxious today and that’s just how it is. Not today. I looked down at my watch (which isn’t actually a watch, it’s a Fitbit, I don’t have a watch…but if I said I looked down at my Fitbit, wouldn’t that have been a little weird? No? Not any weirder than this weird rambling I’m doing right now to clarify what I meant? Ok.) and realized that it was only 8 AM.
It’s only 8 AM and I have the whole day ahead of me. I have the whole day to decide whether I am going to have a good day or a bad day. And I am determined that I’m not having a bad day. Because I don’t want to.
Having that mindset is all good and great and is definitely a great start, but how exactly was I supposed to go about having a great day when the universe CLEARLY didn’t want me to? I took several deep breaths (do you know how much breathing you can do in just two minutes?!) and then set about doing four simple things that made a huge impact.
Start with an attitude of gratitude. I suffer from anxiety and have for quite some time. I know good and well that the majority of the time that I spend feeling overwhelmed is because anxiety causes my brain to hyper focus on what is going wrong, which means that I lose sight of all of the things that are going right. So this morning on my walk from my car to my desk, I challenged myself to list off ten genuine gratitudes before I sat down in front of my computer. I’m doing a much better job of exercising daily and I am already feeling better. That was easy. I have a job that I love and that I make enough money at that I have started to make huge strides in being completely debt free and have actual savings. Spring has sprung and I have plans to be outside all three days of the weekend, and I have been walking my dogs every evening at sunset. That’s three and I hadn’t even left the parking deck. I tried to focus on “I know that ____, and I also know that _____” type of statements. An example that I have had to work with personally in the past is “I know that people expect me to be married and have children already because of my age, and I also know that other people’s ideas of success shouldn’t dictate how I set my goals and priorities.” This allows me to think about things that I actually value and am grateful for, like community involvement, travelling, and personal time. I completed my list of ten well before I reached my desk and the grateful thoughts just kept coming!
Treat yourself. I don’t necessarily mean in the style of Tom and Donna, a la massages and fine leather goods. But do something nice for yourself. Do you enjoy painting your nails or toenails? Maybe it’s hard to do at your desk if you’re at work, but make a commitment to yourself that you’ll paint those toenails tonight at home. I personally love stationary and will occasionally treat myself to a new pack of thank you cards or sticky notes from the dollar section at Target. This morning? I found a compleyed punch pass in my wallet to Parlour Coffee Bar and my heart instantly soared. I treated myself to a free mocha, enjoyed a nice stroll in the beautiful weather, and got to have a lovely chat with my favorite barista – who happens to be an incredible woman that I also consider a friend! Win-win-win-win!
Get to steppin’. – It’s no secret that exercise and bloodflow are not just good for your physical health, but also for your mental health. I’m not about to tell you some awesome super secret that only I know about. Sorry. But I can give you some insight into how I sneak in some movement into my day, even though I have a desk job. Use the water cooler that is a little further than the one closest to your desk. I use the one downstairs instead of the one that is on my floor. Gives me a little extra time away from staring at my computer screen and gets me moving. Need an excuse to walk away from your desk more often? Start drinking more water! I also like to use my breaks at work to take a walk around the block. I use reminders on my Fitbit to remind me to get 250 steps in each hour. I can draft emails, create to-do lists, brainstorm, read industry related articles, or catch up on webinars while walking around the building. And anytime that I find myself wanting to facepalm, roll my eyes, or any other act of frustration, I instead put my arms over my head and reach high while wiggling my fingers. Stretching is much more effective at calming you down than complaining or letting yourself get agitated.
Be nice. – When I am in a bad mood, being overly nice to people is typically the last thing I want to do. Usually it isn’t a conscious decision. That’s exactly the point. You have to be conscious about how you treat others, especially when you’re already down, grumpy, or stressed. Anyone who knows me will tell you that I love to compliment people. I like to refer to people as “friend,” and I love to tell them when their hair looks great or that the shade of blue they are wearing that day looks fantastic on them. People always love to hear nice things about themselves. And it’s contagious. I know what it’s like to be having a horrible time and hear someone say something nice to me that helps me, even if only a little bit. So why not put more of that out there into the universe? It’s hard to stay in a funk when you are spending all of your time smiling and being friendly!
Sometimes it’s hard to take control over your mindset, especially when you deal with anxiety or depression on a regular basis. But I’ve learned that the earlier I can start doing little things to counteract my funky moods, the easier it is on me. Doing these things really helps me to keep my thoughts in check instead of getting swept up in a whirlwind of irrational thoughts. Because that’s exactly what anxiety is. It’s not easy, and it’s taken me a lot of time to be in a place where I can actually pause and remember to do these things. I’m not going to lie to you, there are still plenty of times when I forget everything I just talked about and spiral into a meltdown. That’s ok. It’s going to happen. Don’t beat yourself up over having a bad day, that’s the last thing you need. You just leave yourself little reminders and you try again next time.