Changing Your Mood and Attitude

17 Sep

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Lately several of my friends have been struggling with mood and/or attitude issues. The season changing is affecting some. School starting is affecting others, and life circumstances affect still more. Sometimes people can’t even put their finger on what is making them crabby or depressed, or they think they know but have no idea how to change things. You know what? I don’t know all the answers, but I do have several ideas that I hope will help those who need and want it. I understand that you may have heard them all before, but maybe the way I present them will give you the idea you need to lift yourself out of your not so happy place. In any case, I guarantee it will put more positive thought and action into the world, I can only see an upside to that. So here are my suggestions in no particular order.

One of the most common suggestions to lift your mood is to move. I will not be telling you to exercise because I know many people who hear that word and just tune out. If you love it, then do it. If the word exercise sets your teeth on edge, think about trying something totally different. Take a stroll or do some gardening. Is it really exercise if you stroll? Try skipping or jumping rope, like you did as a child. Can you imagine the smiles you would generate if you tried skipping around the block? I would be willing to bet you are smiling just thinking about it. If you want to get really crazy, you could dance or hula hoop. I have been known to blast some tunes and dance around my house on occasion. Sometimes, I even leave the shades up, and I am thinking of putting a hula hoop on my Christmas wish list. Can you imagine? How did you get in shape? By hula hooping of course!

For people like me, fun is almost like a drug. I love having fun and crave it in every area of my life. Honestly, if it isn’t fun in some way, I can only do something for so long before I completely lose interest, but playing can be a huge way to release stress and lift yourself up. I’m talking board games and puzzles, not on a screen but in in real life. Did you love Operation as a child? It still exists. Was Life more your style? It’s still out there too. Puzzles can be a bit trickier, but it’s amazing when you start talking to people, and you find out that many people love to do puzzles and you know what else? They love to share them. We have worked several puzzles that we have either returned to their owner or passed along to someone else, and here’s a really fun tip; write your name, city and the date you worked the puzzle on the bottom of the box and tell the next person to do the same. You can see how far the puzzle has traveled and how many people have worked on it.

My next suggestion is to look in a mirror. One of the greatest challenges I was ever issued was to say, “Hello Beautiful” every time I looked in a mirror. It was so difficult to do that in the beginning, but it got easier. At first, I just made stupid faces at myself and stuck my tongue out, and I highly recommend this approach if you struggle with calling yourself beautiful in the beginning. If you have a young child, they will be only too glad to help you make those faces, and you will be laughing before you know it. Eventually, though, I hope you can begin to see your inner beauty, even if it is only in a glimpse or two.

Singing can be a great way to change your mood and attitude too. You can sing to a mirror, which will show you how you look when you sing. That could, however, be more mood killing than lifting, but I would also add a caveat; no sad songs unless it’s an 80s power ballad and you plan to toss your hair like an 80s glam band lead singer. Otherwise, grab your favorite hair brush, spatula or broom handle and get to belting out your favorite upbeat anthems.

Sometimes the thing that’s bringing you down is the thing that will lift you up because it’s your attitude about what you’re doing that’s really bringing you down in the first place. I know that sounds really cryptic, but have you ever had a task to do that you keep putting off and when you finally do it, you feel fantastic? I have and it usually looks like a pile of paper or my kitchen table. Some days, the best way for me to lift my mood is to clean and/or declutter. On days that I know that and don’t want to, my timer is my best friend. It is magical what you can do in 15-20 focused minutes. I can usually get the basics of my morning routine knocked out in 20 minutes. I can do a quick wipe of the bathrooms, run my Swiffer vacuum on the first floor and unload the dishwasher in about 20 minutes. Add a session of 10-15 minutes of cleaning off my kitchen table, and in 30 minutes or so, I can look around my house and see progress. It’s amazing how just a little bit of progress can make a huge difference.

My husband has been traveling more than usual this year, and I noticed that I miss his hugs so much when he’s gone. I hadn’t realized how much we hug and hold hands and just keep contact with one another. Since I only have one child still living at home and he’s a teenage boy, it has been a challenge for me to ask him for additional hugs here and there. To really get great hugs, I visit my nieces and snag a few from their children. Otherwise, lunch with a friend I haven’t seen in a while can almost always start and end with a hug and that’s great too.

Speaking of friends, a phone call can be exactly what you need, especially if the friend is normally upbeat. For some a special relative can be a great choice. I have a few people in my life that I know I can call and have them “talk me off the ledge” as we refer to it. The same can be true for when you’re feeling down. It can even happen in a text or on social media. Yes, there are even positive places to go on the internet to get your lift. I’ve mentioned a private group I belong to on Facebook where the women build each other up. In this past week, we’ve lifted those with house cleaning issues, preschooler issues, pregnancy issues and mental health issues. Our focus in the group is lifting one another, cheering successes and being there for one another. They are as real to me as any of my off screen friends and in some instances, they have become off screen friends as well.

Have you read a good book or magazine lately? I’m a person who can lose herself in a good book, which is why I usually only read fiction during the summer when I can stay up late if the book get juicy and intriguing. Whether you like romance or thrillers, you can find solace in a book. Don’t have time for that? Read to your children if you have them and act like the characters. Let them pick a character and as you read, have them act out the book. Do it while eating and you have dinner and a show.

How are you breathing? Do you take full, energizing breaths or is your breathing shallow and nearly nonexistent? Just the act of taking several full breaths can change your body chemistry as you bring more oxygen to your lungs. Add meditation to that and you’ve really got a recipe for positive change. Don’t think you can meditate? I assure you that you can. I used to think that I couldn’t turn off my thoughts long enough to meditate, but I found out I don’t have to. In the beginning, I used to meditate with a pad of paper and a pen by my side so I could write down important thoughts. I needed music with no words to shut out all of the natural but distracting sounds in my house. I found breathing to be difficult because I was so focused on doing it “right”, but eventually, I realized that meditation is as individual as prayer. Whatever works for you is the best way to meditate. Whether it’s guided or not, with music or not, with or without shoes, cross legged or lying in a hammock, if it settles your mind, it is the right way to meditate for you, and I recommend it highly. Seriously people; you can find countless helpful videos on YouTube. Do it.

One of my favorite ways to get out of a funk is to do something nice for someone else. Nothing lifts you up like lifting someone else. Because I am a writer, I often write notes to people thanking them for a kindness or just to let them know I’m thinking about them. I’ve even been known to write to someone about a kindness they did for me years ago that they may have forgotten about that still makes me smile. I think sometimes that might even be a greater gift for us both. I love to buy flowers and share them, bake cookies or even pay for a meal at the drive through, and if you want a big lift, donate in person to a homeless shelter, battered women’s shelter or food pantry. It will do two things. It will help those in need, and it will help you to more clearly see how blessed you are. Counting those blessings, by the way, is also a great way to lift yourself up. A gratitude journal can change the way you think and how you look at each day. Instead of looking at what’s wrong in your life, you begin looking for ways to be thankful and trust me that is a much better way to live.

With the holidays approaching, I know the ever building calendar commitments can be a huge source of stress for some. I have some thoughts on calendars. First, I couldn’t exist without one. My calendar keeps me sane, but when it becomes overrun with commitments, it can cause stress just by looking at it. When that point comes, I know it’s time for a family meeting. When all my children were home, we had a family meeting every Sunday after dinner to discuss the upcoming week. My kids were not always happy about it, but it gave us a chance to connect and get on the same page with transportation, who would be home for dinner on which nights and who needed help with different commitments. Those family meetings were a life saver and helped us all to have a better week. One of the most important issues, though, is being able to take things off of the calendar. I know several people who are completely stressed out by their calendar because they think they have to do everything on it. You don’t. Remember, we’re talking about lifting our moods and attitudes. For me, one of the most difficult things is saying no to a party or social engagement, but occasionally I do. My husband isn’t as social and needs his down time. I respect that and give up a party here and there because I love him more than I love a good party. It took him years to be able to understand that and he would go along and not really enjoy himself. Now, if I really want to go and he doesn’t, I go by myself. I give him is space and I am truthful when I say he had another commitment, which is to spend time alone to lift his mood and attitude. Occasionally, he will drop me off and pick me up from those social engagements, which have added bonuses. I don’t have to find a place to park and walk through the parking lot or dark street by myself and he feels like he is taking great care of me, which he is.

Keeping a close watch over what you take in can be huge in your journey back to happy. What you watch and read, listen to and ingest physically all matter. I quit watching the news years ago, but somehow I still manage to know what’s going on in the world. As a matter of fact, I believe I’ve become a more discerning person because I don’t watch any one news show and think they have all the facts. I’ve learned that media outlets decide what’s news and for some reason, people have forgotten that there are thousands of stories out there that don’t make the evening news. Who are you listening to? I have found that listening to uplifting people and spending my time on positive pursuits has changed everything for me. I used to worry about who the President would be, but in the last 20 years, we have thrived no matter who is in the White House. We’ve stopped making our peace dependent upon who is in Congress. Yes we still follow what’s happening, but we do it from a distance, not from sensational news that is blasted 24 hours per day. I’ve been drinking water for years now with some tea thrown in for good measure. I am eating healthier for me and loving how I feel when I do. Like movement, what works for one may not work for another, but it’s always fun for me to try something new and see how it works for me because learning is one of the greatest ways for me to change my mood.

Learning, especially about myself and spiritual matters, is one of my greatest personal joys. I am happiest when I am learning and growing. One of the greatest things I learned is that words matter and the better we choose our words, the better we feel about life. Learning to change the voice inside my head has been part of my entire adult journey. We all have that voice, and it tells us who we are. It tells us we are fat and lazy or it tells us we are beloved by the Divine. Taming that voice is a fantastic achievement and one I’m still working on, but as I get better at taming my own inner voice, I find that I get better at encouraging, coaching and cheering on others. One of the most powerful ways I learned to tame the inner critic was to start choosing how to live. In the United States, we have a choice of how to live. I know that doesn’t exist everywhere, but it does in my life and my country for the most part. That amount of freedom is so amazing because some people choose to live in mental bondage. They choose to become victims. I got tired of the opinions of others guiding how I live, so I changed the game. Specifically, I chose to get rid of the words “need”, “have to” and “should”, and it changed my life in more ways than you can imagine. Instead I now choose how to live every day. It was amazing how my view of laundry changed when I chose to do it instead of needing to do it. The piles got smaller and eventually disappeared, and even when they occasionally pop up again, I choose to make a plan rather than gripe about what I have to do. Even taxes got easier, which was something both my husband and I detested doing in the past. We choose to do our taxes because we get money back and that is a wonderful thing. We get excited about Turbo Tax, our preferred tax program, releasing their latest edition in January because we can get our taxes done and get our money sooner. Ironically, we also keep better track of things through the year, which makes filling out the forms even easier. Yes, it’s geeky, but changing the words changed the feeling and ultimately improved our actions and our attitudes. If I could have people do just one thing to improve their attitude it would be to change what they say. Would you tell your child to get off their fat butt? Would you tell your best friend how stupid they are because they left a load of laundry in the washer? Would you look at your favorite child in the world and tell them how ugly they are? I certainly hope not. Guess what? If you have children or a caring spouse, they don’t care about the size of your butt. They care about the condition of your heart, literally and figuratively. If you have any friends at all, they don’t care if you mess up now and then. Give yourself the grace you would give them. If you’re feeling ugly and stupid and worthless and depressed and it isn’t bad enough to see a doctor, listen to me when I tell you that you are a beloved child of the Divine. You are a miracle of life, and you have a purpose much greater than the funk you are in. The funk, depression and downward spiral are liars and tell you things that are untrue. You have light inside you and no amount of darkness can snuff out the light of a single match. Find another light, even if it is a small one and hang onto one another. If you don’t have one, come to me and I’ll do what I can. You are amazing. You are special. You are meant for greater than this. I thank you for being you and have a great day.

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