Five Ways to Have a Better Day

With my recent travel mishap, I’ve been thinking about moods and emotions and the power we have over them. I must say, I have the ability to become gruuuuumpy.  Nine times out of ten it’s because I’m hungry or tired and once I realized this correlation, I was amazed at how easily I could control my mood for the better.  It’s like once I recognized the problem, I was able to address the effects of it even if I couldn’t immediately solve it. Admittedly, some days I have no idea what the problem is. I wake up and wish I were still sleeping. It could be attributed to something in my work life or maybe my student loan bill is due or maybe my personal relationships are troubling me, but whatever it is, an easy solution isn’t always present and I just want to lie under the covers for a few more hours.  Ultimately that makes me feel even worse.  Ignoring the day is no way to go about creating a happy life. It’s important to check in with yourself, acknowledge your pitfalls, but ultimately to shake them off, get out of bed, and get on with your day.  Easier said than done, right? I hoping these five ways to have a better day will have you up and at ‘em before you remember what’s troubling you.

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Take a moment and a mantra – Take a few deep breaths. I’m talking deep, belly breathing, breaths. Choose a mantra for the day and remember to talk to yourself like you would someone you love. If your bestie was having a rough day, what would you say to him or her? Decide on a few wise words or a mini goal for instance: I am compassionate, I will use my actions to help others feel loved today, or whatever you think you need to hear and repeat that three times. I try to think of whatever I’m dreading for the day, maybe it’s completing a project or a deadline, and gear my mantra towards that goal: I’m creative and productive. My work is valuable and appreciated. Whatever you need to hear, say it to yourself, don’t wait for someone else to acknowledge your struggle or congratulate your triumphs.

Call an amigo – Even though I’m not really a phone person, talking to a friend or family member helps immensely.  Sometimes we all fall into a funk and we need a familiar voice to pick us up a little bit. It’s okay to reach out when you’re feeling stuck, chances are the person on the other end of the line has been there or is dealing with something else at that very moment.  You could be doing them more good than you know.

Spend five minutes enjoying nature – It is proven that a few minutes outside will improve your mood. Don’t wait until lunchtime to sneak a moment in the sunshine, go outside right now.  Spend five minutes taking in your surroundings.  Listen for birds, insects and frogs.  Notice the trees that you see.  Can you name any of them? Acknowledge the growth and decay all around you and appreciate both. Enjoy the absolute absurdity that is life on earth.

Drink Michael’s Secret Stuff – Drink a big glass of water, tea, coffee, kombucha, fruit juice, whatever is your favorite go to beverage, gulp it up.  Offer your body a bit of hydration to kick start your day. Water has the amazing ability to improve your mentality and energy levels.  If you’re fueled up, you’ll certainly function better so start with a big glass of h2o. Oh and if you didn’t get the Space Jam reference you need to reevaluate your life and re-watch the movie 😉

Work up a sweat – Get the blood flowing. Even if you start your morning with one sun salutation, your body will thank you. Stretching and sweating releases endorphins, which in turn improve your mood. When we’re feeling bummed, the last thing we want to do is go to the gym, but you don’t even have to take it that far. Simply lie down and do thirty crunches or hold a plank for thirty seconds.  After that try twenty lunges or squats, there is no way you’ll regret slipping in a few seconds of exercise and who knows, it may turn into an hour of sweating and stretching.

If that’s not enough, here’s a valid excuse to watch cat videos, which will definitely cheer you up!

Image by the loveliest lady
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Finding February’s #winterhigh

I love the roller coaster ride that is our yearly trip around the sun, fully enjoying the rush of each new season, but without fail, somewhere in the middle of February, I start to lose my winter cool. By this point, winter just seems like it’s going to go on forever, the days that I used to refer to as crisp have turned to bitter cold. The evenings that were dark and cozy are just too. darn. long {and still very dark}. Over the years I’ve developed a few tricks for fighting the February blues.

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  • Do an exercise reality check. We all know that regular exercise is a true mood booster – releasing endorphins, improving our immune system, and warming up our cold winter bones. Moving is a regular part of my routine, but somewhere in the dark of winter, my step loses it’s spring; I may not move as much or with as much intensity as usual. To get my exercise mojo back, I shake up my usual routine ~ try out a new walking route with the dog, take my camera and spend some time photographing the stark winter landscape of our local parks or favorite hiking trails, and possibly most important is to get out in the early to middle of the day (see my next point). If I really can’t bear one more walk in the cold, then I hit up my favorite yoga studio for a few extra sessions of hot vinyasa flow.

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  • Find the sunshine! Sunshine exposure helps our bodies to produce serotonin and melatonin, two chemicals in our body that work to regulate our circadian rhythms. So getting some sunshine for even just 10-15 minutes each day may raise our mood and help us to get a better sleep at night!

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  • Eat the rainbow! Just as with my exercise, I may find myself in a food rut, and the best way out is through experimentation. And, just like exercise, there are direct links between our diet and mood. This is the time I turn to my cookbooks for a bit of inspiration, focusing on veggie and protein heavy recipes. I received Jerusalem: A Cookbook this Christmas, and it has just the right sort of full-flavored dishes I’m looking for. Take advantage of those long dark evenings to experiment in the kitchen!

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  • Start a new {colorful} project. As fellow knitters know, February is not a time to start knitting that grey afghan or a black sweater, it’s time to break out the colorful yarn and knit yourself some yellow leg warmers.

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  • Take a vacation!… but not yet. This is the perfect time to plan your next vacation. Research has found that you receive the largest boost in happiness from planning and anticipating, not from the actual vacation or time after you return! Whether it’s a weekend get-a-way or a trip abroad, schedule that vacation now and give yourself something to look forward to!

Of course, sometimes I also curl up with a good book, some hot tea, and ride out the February storm. What are your tricks for keeping the mood light and your heart warm when winter just won’t quit? Share your #winterhigh with us!

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