I am fortunate enough to live through good days. But, as people, we experience some less than good days as well. I am addressing in this post what I do when I have one of these less than awesome days and how I try to turn them around.
These are not days when something bad happens. They are just days with low energy, when we feel tired and sad and we don’t knowing exactly why. It’s about the times when we are in bad mood.
I am not a medical professional nor a specialist in mental health and thus I am not giving professional advice. All I do in the following lines is to present some things and activities that lift my spirits when I am in a less than great mood.
First of all, I protect my sleep. I do need more hours in a day to do all the things I need to do. But I also need sleep in order to get anything done. So sleep wins. And also, I like sleep. I like to take my shower, get in bed with my book, read a few pages until my eyes are shut and then just fall asleep without even knowing. I had ignored sleep because I thought I had to work more hours. It turns out that being rested gets you more productive in a day while being tired affects productivity [what a revelation, I know]. I’d much rather focus on work during the day, even in the weekend, as long as I can protect my sleep each and every night. I clearly don’t have children, but I understand why this is a good reason to make exceptions. I still consider though that sleeping is important, no matter when it’s done.
I enjoy my coffee. Because I am working on improving my sleep, I allow myself to have 2, maximum 3 cups a coffee per day, all of it mostly before 16:00. One good side of this is that I really focus to feel the taste while I go through the cups. Especially the first coffee, it’s made to be enjoyed. I usually read or write in the morning and I feel how I take a small break with each sip: the one and only thing I focus is how coffee smells, tastes and feels.
I enjoy art and nice pictures. I like paintings. I also like painting although I do it very, very rarely so I am not good at it. I however enjoy what other people create and it makes me happy looking at them. I either take a look at the paintings I have, which are not many, or I search online to look at pretty pictures. Lately, I can’t stop looking at the bookmarks I got from my friend Gabriela. Her work makes me instantly happy. Just look at how joyous her drawings are. How clean and perfect. It reminds me of childhood and how everything is alright.
I do sports. This is probably the activity I do for tons a reasons, but feeling energized and in good spirits is maybe the most important one. There is something about moving my body while listening to music or a podcast that makes my problems go away. It’s incredible how 20 minutes of effort can change my mindset. The music helps, but it’s not the main reason: if I listen to music while staying still it doesn’t have the same effect. I have strong reasons to believe that working out is what keeps me happy.
I have a chat with a friend. Not about my feelings and not necessarily about myself. It’s not that I don’t do it, but I feel better after I listen to my friends tell me about their lives and their ideas. For years I believed that talking about my emotions and feelings is good for me – It turns out that it was not. I will not get into specifics, the point is that I find it much more energizing to engage through active listening.
Look, life is perfect and not so much. We all have good moments and less than good moments. But it is not only up to life to cheer us up. It’s actually up to us to see the good in life and to make ourselves happier.
Many people believe that how we feel influences what we do. There is research showing that how we feel can influence what we do but what we do influences how we feel too. I haven’t yet found a way to influence how I feel [maybe meditation can do that but I haven’t stayed with it long enough]. However, I found that what I do has an impact on how I feel. So I can’t control how I feel, but I can control what I do.
We don’t need to always be happy or feel good. But isn’t this actually what we want? Don’t we all want to have more good times in life than the less than good moments? Feeling sad and negative emotions have its role and shouldn’t be dismissed. Many times it’s worth staying in and with sadness, disappointment or heartbreak.
But many times, in order to have a better day, we just need to make the effort of smiling, of taking care of ourselves or of reaching out to someone and listen to their stories, We can’t expect life and external circumstances to do all the work for us. Maybe it will all work out in the end, like it does in the movies, but isn’t it sad to lose all that time?
Smile and make today count!