Getting ready yesterday morning for a day of hiking at Devil's Lake, I was admittedly not quite 'up to it.' I had a couple of things from the day prior on my mind, and, in turn, it was impacting my mood.
My husband, recognizing I wasn't quite myself, asked, "You seem off. Is everything OK?"
First, I tried brushing it off as "nothing, I'm good."
Ah, he knows me all too well!
So, of course, he asked again. When he did, I shared what was weighing me down. Which by the way, my friends, getting things out is so very helpful!
The longer we talked, the freer I felt, simply by getting out what was on my head and heart. Admittedly, part of me still wanted to have a good cry and cancel my day, but overall, I felt better than when we started talking.
I also didn't want to let anyone down by canceling, so that was on my mind too.
Shortly after that conversation, I got on the road. (It is about an hour's drive to the lake.) Within a half-hour of driving, I remember the thought hitting me, how glad I was that I kept moving forward.
As the morning progressed, I felt more and more like myself, allowing the sadness to pass and getting back to a peaceful and serene state.
As someone who has a history of Anxiousness and severely sad moments, I can think of multiple times in life when I did 'throw in the towel,' lay on the couch, and cry it out for the day.
And, sometimes those days are needed.
But, having more good days than bad days is a good rule of thumb to live by. So, if you find yourself having more bad than good, Get Help!! You, my friend, are worth it!
Below are all of the things I did yesterday as we were hiking, and I can tell you, it completely shifted my mood and demeanor within an hour of being at the lake. You may not be able to go to a lake for a day; I get it! But, many of these things can be incorporated into your everyday life.
Just get started. You will be glad you did!
Talk to someone
Talking to Joel (my husband) before I left helped me process the two things I was letting cause me sadness. I had already dealt with both in the way I wanted the day prior, so no further action was needed this time. But, the simple art of sharing the circumstances and what made me sad got it out of my head; it was all I needed this time to let the thoughts free and move forward.
There may be times when more help processing situations or circumstances is needed; honor that too. It's OK to have help along the way, and it can often offer a new perspective.
Deal with what made you sad, untether from it, let it go!
In this situation, as mentioned earlier, I had already dealt with it, but I had not untethered from the feelings associated with it. All feelings/emotions are OK and Valid! However, dealing with those feelings, understanding why they showed up, and letting them go are key to moving forward.
It's also very healthy on several levels: mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
Take one step towards what you had planned for the day
I know it may sound tough in a moment of sadness. Or, too simple of a strategy right now reading this, but taking that first step is often all we need to start the process of feeling better.
Go for a drive and turn up some positive/uplifting music when you do
For me, the simple art of hopping in the car and driving is therapeutic on multiple levels. To clarify, I am referring to a drive just because you want to, not one that has responsibilities tied to it ex—work, kids, chores, etc.
Driving provides me clarity, a sense of control, creativity is heightened, and as a nature/adventure seeker, the presence of nature is calming. I also tend to solve a lot of problems when driving. I keep a notebook very close!
When I add music to the mix, it helps increase my mood even further.
Help someone else
It could be an open ear to listen, words of encouragement, or something else altogether. But, for me, there is something about supporting/helping another person that always inadvertently shifts my mood.
Nature has a whole host of benefits from an increased emotional state, happiness, cognition, reduced stress, and healing ability, just to name a few.
For me, having time outside away from my regular community is the most therapeutic. Perhaps it's my adventurous nature of the true disconnect from everyday life but a day out even in places I have been to before is often a complete reset.
Interact with other people, smile, and say hello
When I am in public, I am naturally inclined to interact in some way with everyone, from a simple nod of the head, to a smile, to a "Good morning." I'm grateful to have had this innately in me for as long as I can remember.
I haven't researched the facts on it, but I can say that seeing someone smile or watching someone change their mood as I interact is uplifting.
I'm certain the simple act of getting out of my thoughts helps this one too.
Interact with dogs
Yes, I am that person who will often ask if I can pet your dog/puppy when I'm on walks/hikes. And grateful for the number of people who are open and encouraging when asked. (Be sure always to ask permission first)!
There is a proven benefit to pet therapy from a reduction in cortisol, boost in serotonin and oxytocin, and even lower blood pressure.
The more I am my quirky, fully expressed self, the happier I am. If you are still hanging on to the "what others may think," story in your head and want to start being more comfortable in your skin, let's talk!
Give someone a compliment
This is another one for me that comes naturally. I am not referring to the "ego-boosting," saying something just to say something.
What I am referring to here are those positive thoughts you have internally about someone; say them! You may not know how much they need to hear it, AND complimenting someone, I can say for me, at least is truly mood-boosting.
For the other person, you are helping them activate the reward center of their brain, which increases the chemical dopamine.
Yesterday, I told a woman how gorgeous she is and complimented several others on what they were wearing.
As I think back to these interactions, I am reminded of all the other interactions I had when hiking. I spoke with a young boy and his dad sitting on one of the boulders on the trail. He kept dropping his water bottle. I let him know as I walked by, "I've done that myself so many times in the past." Breaking the apparently frustrated mood that was clearly on his and his dad's faces at the time. It felt good! The interaction led to a brief conversation where the boy shared about his climbing experience, and I shared mine. Watching how it shifted them both at that moment gave me a smile.
Then on another part of the hike, listening to the young man who asked me if I had ever gone catfishing before and listening to his advice in case I ever did in the future. I watched as his confidence level rose in my listening.