I talk a lot about joy. I know that it’s different for everyone, that the amount of joy people can experience at any given time will depend on their context. I share what works for me, in the hopes that everyone that has similar context will benefit from what I have discovered.
And one thing about joy that I have found over the years, is that you can’t always access it in bursts. Sometimes, you have to be willing to step out into the warm sunlight. It’s a step by step process. We do what we can when we can. My hope is that you continue to commit to your inner peace and joy every day in different ways, that you realize that self-care is an every day process.
Sometimes there’s just no understanding what the next step might look like. Getting unstuck is difficult. Here are some things that have worked for me in stopping the cycle of self-deprecation and to a more neutral zone to catch my breath and start feeling better. Feel free to add your ways in the comment section, let’s make this an infinity of list of things to do to get you on that neutral zone.
1. Reach out.
This is probably the easiest and quickest way for me to deactivate the cycle of self-deprecation. I ask people how they’re doing. I talk to them. If they ask me how I am, I usually give them an honest answer but try not to invite conversation if I feel like talking about it might make me go back to the upset. Instead, I ask them about them, and see what I can do for them. Being of assistance and helping others is the most effective way to get my mind off of something and back to feeling at ease. If I feel like I don’t have the energy to actively engage them, then texting and facebook chatting will do. Don’t over-extend yourself.
Jog. Do Jumping Jacks. Do yoga. Do some 5 minute stretches. Jump. Come up with a choreography to your favorite Janet Jackson song. Get yourself moving, help your body out by giving it some new oxygen and blood to work with.
After giving your body some of that fresh oxygen, give it a complete break. Read, meditate, watch a feel-good show. What could you be doing right now that will allow you to shut off your brain? Listen to feel-good music, if you’re ready to move forward, don’t listen to music that will bring you back to the pain. Don’t think if thinking takes you to a bad place.
4. Clean up. Make the bed.
A long time ago, while I was still on Tumblr, I found a website called Unfuck Your Habitat. It taught me A LOT about motivation and being clean.
Here’s an excerpt from her website: “Don’t misunderstand me: cleaning your house is not going to cure your depression. But depression and a messy home don’t have to go together. You can accomplish something. One surface is a pretty big deal. It’s change. It’s positive change. And it might help lead to more.”
5. Make stupid faces.
I know this sounds ridiculous, but let me tell you something about apathy: it is not your friend. If you find yourself in an apathetic place, you are cutting yourself off from feeling which might seem like a great idea when everything you feel is awful, but if you disconnect from them, that means you’ll have to go right back to the feelings of heaviness before being ready to feel better. The idea here is to put you in neutral instead of going back. Sometimes, making silly faces in the bathroom mirror makes me focus on how I’m presenting myself, what I look like. We forget to truly look in the mirror sometimes. This takes the fear away from “really seeing ourselves” by providing a “silly” outlet.
6. Write a list of things you are grateful for.
Gratitude, gratitude, gratitude. Make it simple. Go as basic as possible. I like to be grateful for the ability of being able to taste ice cream, for the magnificent machine that is my body, my taste buds! My arms that allow me to hold and hug, my strong legs that allow me to run away. For the sunshine, for the love of my friends. Gratitude humbles and quiets our mind, allowing love to come in.
7. Acknowledge yourself (DON’T perpetuate the cycle.)
What are you doing right now that you are proud of? Make a list. “I am not calling this person to tear their eyes out. I am not telling myself horrible negative things. I am breathing steady. I am here for myself.” Try to focus more on the “I am’s” than the “I am not’s”.
8. Make a plan.
This works WONDERS for me. A lot of times the not knowing what’s going to happen is what drives me nuts. So I come up with a plan. I’m not saying to come up with a solution, I’m saying to give you a “next step” idea so that you can relax and know that once you’re ready to move on, you’ll have a plan set in motion.
9. Be creative (cook, paint, build)
Are you a terrible cook? Make a sandwich. Go all out. Experiment. Are you terrible at drawing? Fill a page with different shapes, or make a mandala. Do you have a workshop? Build something you would never usually build. Create something, work with your hands. Inspiration.
10. Do something you’ve never done before
Are you knocking this list before you’ve even tried it? That kind of attitude is what keeps us in our funk. In order to get different results, we must try different things. Try something you’ve never done before, and release the result. Simply work on not going back.
What about you? What are some things that work for you?
Give suggestions on the comment section below!