Perhaps it was something in my astrological chart, or perhaps it was the giant snowstorm that covered my world after a few delicious 65-degree days last week, but yesterday, I woke up feeling just feeling off.
It was a Monday, anyway, so maybe it was just the Monday blues.
Whatever it was, my mind was chattering away at me from the moment I woke up, pressuring me to accomplish all things, do all the chores, then telling me my house was a mess, berating me on all the laundry I didn’t do over the weekend and the things I forgot at the grocery store.
There was also this, that, and the other thing.
That kind of thing wears on you, ya know?
No matter how hard I tried to just release the frustrations, that little chatterbox inside my head, the one I can usually observe and release, just wouldn’t shut up.
Then, my spirit felt off, and that was that: A crappy, snowy, March Monday.
We all have those days though, am I right?
Sometimes it’s Mercury retrograde and we can blame it on that and get on with our lives. Other times there is no astrological explanation or any other logical Earthly reason we can blame our woes on in order to process them. Sometimes, it’s just ourselves, and the conversation we are having in our heads with our own consciousness that goes awry for a day, like the way any other close relationship in our human experience can.
When those days come, sometimes we have to push through it. We have a job, a family, kids, a dog, whatever reason you have for getting out of bed in the mornings will be there, and you’ve got to push past that little chatterbox and continue on with your life.
Sometimes, pushing through helps, but other times, it doesn’t.
Sometimes you have to take extra steps to reset your spirit, calm your mind, and find that zen spot within you that can carry you through another day.
Here are a few things you can do to lift your spirit on those inexplicably off days. Even on the days that are understandably bad, you can always take small steps to lift yourself back up. Perhaps they won't make your terrible boss a better human being, but I hope they will make you feel good about you:
“If you light a lamp for someone else it will also brighten your path.” ~Buddha
Laugh and smile, even if you have to fake it. Laughter releases endorphins, or the happy hormone. It’s even thought that fake smiling can trick your brain into thinking you are in a good mood. Researchers even agree. According to a study by the journal of Experimental Psychology, researchers found that even a fake smile can have a positive effect on your mood.
Hit the Caribou (or Starbucks) drive-through and buy the drink of the person behind you. Then, do as I do, and drive away really fast so they can’t catch up, and you’re like a secret guardian angel that restored someone’s faith in humanity.
Go for a walk in the park. Look at some trees. Smell the flowers. If there’s snow on the ground, admire the perfection of the snowflakes, each one unique and beautiful. Connection with nature has many known therapeutic and healing benefits.
Meditate. Find a quiet spot, focus on your breath. Slow, deep inhales, then slow and controlled exhales. When thoughts arise, don’t try to push them out of your mind. Your brain is a reflexive organ that has some 60,000 thoughts a day, you can’t make that shut up. Just observe the thoughts instead as a part of that organ in your head, but keep your awareness on your slow, rhythmic breath. Even if there is background noise, focus on letting go of your mind’s attachment to it. Meditation is ideal when it’s quiet, but it’s not necessary when you just need a few minutes to yourself.
Donate $20 to an organization you care about. Goodwill and generosity are good for the spirit. Picture what good that money is going to, whom it is going to help, and whose day it is going to make.
Listen to good music. Good music feeds the soul, and dancing around your kitchen to it is even better. You’ll be surprised after one to two of your favorite songs how much better you will begin to feel.
Blast it in the car and karaoke that magic into your steering wheel. I do that on my way to work most days, and I’m sure everybody else traveling southbound on Highway 169 thinks I’m nuts, but that’s okay with me.
Clean up your space. If your desk is cluttered with piles of papers, your laundry is stacked up, dust is coating everything around you, there’s a collection of crumpled receipts at the bottom of your purse, and your space is just an overall clusterf*ck of a mess, it’s going to be hard to settle your mind. Your environment does matter. Take some time to clean up your space, organize the things around you, and let that calm the clutter in your mind.
Scream into a pillow. Sometimes we just need a good, unadulterated emotional release, and screaming can do the trick. If you have the space around you to just scream into the air without worrying that your neighbors will summon the cops, then do it! Let all that emotion out, release it to the universe, and let the wind carry it far, far away from you.
Do nothing for 20 minutes. Is your brain telling you that you haven’t done enough? Is it giving you the to-do list for the next month and pressuring you from within to get it all done right now?
Let that shit go.
Don’t give that anxiety inside you what it wants. Set a timer and commit to NOTHING for the next twenty minutes. You don’t have to meditate if you don’t want to, let your brain have its thoughts, but don’t give into it. These twenty-minutes are yours to sit, lie down, stare into space, or do whatever it is that YOU want to do.
Just take a break, already. If you’ve been hammering out work and chores or whatever it is for a couple of hours now, and that mind chatter hasn’t stopped and you feel exhausted and overwhelmed, give yourself a break.
(You are allowed to do that, you know.)
If you are feeling stressed or exhausted, you probably aren’t doing your best work anyway. Our best work comes from flow states and states of joy and relaxation and being one with our higher selves, not from stress and anxiety and the pressure we put on ourselves to be and do all the things at once. Just take a break, give yourself the time you need to recoup, and then get back to doing whatever it was you were going to do.
Plan a hookie day. I know not all of us can just play hookie on any ole given day. Some of us have kids, jobs that have things that need to be done in a timely manner, or others that rely on us in some form or another. But you can certainly plan to play hookie.
Last year, I committed myself to doing this more often. I block days on my schedule about a month to six weeks in advance, and I “play hookie.”
Sometimes it means staying home and writing, or sometimes it means going on long walks with my phone on do-not-disturb. Usually, I decide that day what my spirit needs, and I go do it. Or, I stay home and do nothing, because that’s good for the spirit, too. But planning it will build up the excitement and give you something to look forward to, and when that day finally hits, it will feel extra good.
Break your routine. When we do the same things day in and day out, life can feel mundane, and stress can be extra daunting. If you don’t have the capacity in life right now to completely play hookie, do something with one of your workdays that’s out of the ordinary.
A couple of months ago, I stopped by the mall to exchange a pair of shoes I’d received for Christmas and ended up with an extra half an hour, so I just walked laps around the mall. It was a Thursday morning, so it was fairly quiet. I got a special coffee drink at Caribou, paced around the open, sunny rotunda, and people watched the few that were there. By the time I got to work, I felt a little extra sense of joy.
Next time life feels stressfully mundane, plan a morning where you leave an hour early and go out for breakfast instead of eating at home. Or grab yourself a Caribou Coffee and take a short walk somewhere that you usually don’t go. Breaking up your routine like this can be a nice mid-week stress breaker.
Make a list of what you are grateful for and what makes you so awesome. We all know what gratitude journals are. Every lifestyle and law of attraction guru tells you it’s the first part of manifesting a life you want. Trust me, I believe in the power of gratitude, and it can definitely be a day maker.
In addition to writing out what things in life you are grateful for, write out all the things that make you awesome.
Ask a friend for help if you need to.
Write out that list of your most awesome qualities and keep it in your journal, taped above your workspace, or tucked away in your wallet where you can always access it to remind yourself of what awesomeness you bring to the world. Because even on our worst days, when stress has us bamboozled and our angry reactive-brain thoughts are all sorts of discombobulated, we are still our most awesome selves, and we are all a bright, shining beacon of light that the world is so lucky to have. Don’t ever forget that.
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