Saturday, June 23, 2018

When You're Feeling Blue... | 10 Ways to Feel Better + Mellow Playlist

There are a lot of days where I am at 60%, and not very many days where I'm feeling my best and sitting pretty at 100%.

Sixty percent there, if you know what I mean. 60% present, aware, awake. If you've ever felt it, I'm sure you know exactly what I mean.

Recently I sat down and thought of a few things that make me feel better, hoping that if I made a list I could just refer back to it when I'm feeling gloomy and try to pull myself out of this funk.

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Since not everyone has their own list, I thought I'd share. Not everything is accessible for everyone, I get that, but at one time or another you should be able to put some of these things into action.

Hopefully they help you.

1. Step into the sun, somewhere quiet. I like spreading a blanket out in my backyard and letting my dogs settle down around me. I lay out flat, and let the sun warm me up, even when I'm not cold. Feeling the sun reminds me that I'm a human, that I'm alive, and that I can feel so much in so many ways. Lay down in your yard or in a park. Stay in the sun for the first few minutes without playing music or letting yourself get distracted. Close your eyes. Open them and watch the clouds whisk through the sky. Stare at the tops of trees. Listen to the rustling of leaves and the rumble of distant traffic.

"So I'll stand with arms high and heart abandoned, in awe of the one who gave it all."

2. Gather your blankets and find someplace cozy you won't be bothered. The presence of other people often keeps me from relaxing. If you can't escape everyone, just lock your door. I like going into our spare room - no one looks for me there. Otherwise I'll let them know to leave me be for a few while I work on something; or, if I need to, I will simply lock everyone out. Bundle yourself in a bed of blankets and pillows and light a few candles. Let yourself feel warm, safe, and calm.

3. Breathe deeply. Seriously, take a big, slow breath in and hold it back as you let that big breath trickle out of your lips. Feel the air filling you up. Push your shoulders back. Listen to yourself. I often stop what I'm doing and inhale until my lungs cannot expand another millimeter. It helps me feel more aware of myself and my body.

4. Go for a walk. Getting outside is good, but I think the act of leaving is better. It's a chance for me to put in my headphones and isolate myself. It's a small act of escapism that usually renews my energy and warms my muscles. If you're a runner, give that a go, too. If not, try it anyway. Sometimes doing something out of the norm (even for ten seconds) helps snap you out of a funk. Accomplishments matter regardless of their size.

5. Take care of your body in some way - any way. Green juice and fresh food is great for this. A great smoothie usually makes me feel better, but sometimes I don't feel like eating, or feel like eating well. I sometimes prefer face masks, hair masks, and body scrubs. A long shower and a salt scrub is a good start. I like to brush my teeth, comb my hair, and do a face mask all at once to make a night of it. Doing all these little tasks make me feel fresher and healthier. It re-centers my mind and gives me a glowy confidence boost.

Green Juice

6. Organize something. On my worst days, where I feel like I have accomplished nothing and I'm beating myself up over it, I try to organize or clean one thing. Sometimes it's just my pajama drawer, other times I weed through years of skincare and makeup products, and if I really need to feel accomplished I'll tackle my closet or the bins under my bed. Getting rid of a few things bring me a lot of satisfaction. A clear space really does make for a clear mind. I also enjoy the process of handling every item. In my closet I like to touch every piece of clothing as I decide it's future. It's a reminder of everything beautiful I have and the memories attached to these little pieces of cloth. Not every sweatshirt brings great memories, but even if there's a pit in my stomach when I look at a t-shirt, it reminds me of my progress and my change. It's nice to think about where you've been and where you're going.

7. Reach out. Sometimes this means calling a friend because we can commiserate and I feel a little less alone. Some people may turn to religion, to parents, to childhood stories that make them feel brave. Put yourself in touch with whatever reminds you that you are alive and you are capable. Sometimes I read passage of books from my youth; a few chapters of Tiger Lily or Madeline do more than I could hope for. If that doesn't do it, I can call up high school friends and grab dinner or catch a movie. Some of the most refreshing moments in my life came from candid conversations with friends.

8. Shutdown technology. Read a book, sit in silence, sprint through a park, volunteer at the animal shelter. Just get away from Instagram and YouTube and Twitter and Netflix. It wastes more time of mine than I'd like to admit, and sometimes all it takes for me to begin feeling better is to put some boundaries up and step back from the screens. Use the time however you'd like. I recommend helping others in one way or another or taking a drive out to someplace different - a park, a cafe, an art gallery - and taking some time for yourself.

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9. Write about it. Putting pen to paper helps get the thoughts that are swirling and crowding your mind out to someplace more manageable. Stream of consciousness writing is a great word-vomit activity that helps clear your head, and can help untangle your thoughts by putting them in front of you. I find writing my thoughts out reduces stress and often helps me get to the bottom of my weird mood. You may realize your blue attitude is because you feel like your not reaching your potential or because you don't feel connected to anyone. Since you're already thinking and writing, it will be easy to start coming up with ways to fix it - joining a book club or collecting for the food pantry may be easy ways to connect you to new friends or give you a sense of purpose.

10. Check something off your list. Maybe you've been wanting to go to a new art gallery or take a self defense class or eat at a new restaurant. Give yourself permission to feel awkward, to look dumb, and to do it. I don't like eating out alone and I don't think I'd do well in an active class, but sometimes you have to bite the bullet, take the chance, and accept that those fears will most likely dissipate in minutes and you will have done something you've wanted to. Congrats! You are braver and better for it, no matter how the experience actually turns out.

Bonus: Here's a playlist of some of my best mellow, melancholy, hopeful music.

**P.S. all these beautiful, aesthetic photos are from Pinterest, not me.

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