21 April 2014

Now Is My Time #16: Bad Mood Recovery Techniques


I have found myself unusually cranky and flat out grumpy a few times in the past ten days. I think it would be hardly noticeable to the outside world other than I seemed a little quiet or less smile-y but I definitely felt it inside. Unhappy, sour and unpleasant was definitely how I was feeling on the inside.

Let me tell you how I got to that point. Some crummy things happened like our bathroom flooded badly...twice in one day. On another day I started looking at friends' Instagram photos and started feeling like my life was totally lame. I blew a new recipe for The Man's birthday dinner and the next day all the Easter chocolates I had purchased melted in the trunk of the car before I got home.

Nothing so serious but all these events put me in a stinky mood. I'm sure no one else ever feels like this (haha) but I thought I'd write about all the techniques I've used to get out of those cranky moods. A couple of these will be a repeat from last week's Bloom in Spring post, but since they are lifetime challenges and not something you fix in a day, haha, I'm sure they can bear repeating.

1. Try to figure out why I am feeling the way I do. Easy when I know it's the bathroom flooding, or me being dumb and letting the grass look greener on the other side of the fence. A little tougher when it's a big worry for your family or a conflict with someone you thought you could trust. I find the best way to quickly figure out what's eating at me is to write it down. Start writing on a blank sheet of paper about what you're feeling and chances are good that within a few minutes you'll have keyed in on the issues that are eating at you.

2. Meditate. Doing some deep breathing and a guided meditation helped me to relax body, mind and soul. It's good to refocus and it turns out that my grumpy moods are the perfect time to be participating in the Finding Your Flow 21-day Meditation exercise with Oprah and Deepak Chopra.

I'm loving it so far and the topics couldn't be more spot on. They are all about how our happiness, strength and courage come from within, not without. Great reminders when you feel like complaining about everything.

I also started a new meditation, inspired by my prayer jar, about where I want our life as a family to go, going forward. It's great to lie down and just walk myself through the successful accomplishment of our goals and the receiving of blessings our family stands in need of. A pretty picture to paint and focus on in my heart and soul. Encouraging and calming.

3. Get out in nature. It's tough to be grumpy when you are relaxing out in nature. One day after a particularly frustrating day we met up with friends at Will Roger's State Park for an Easter Egg Hunt and within minutes all my frustrations were long forgotten and we were laughing and having fun. Such a good distraction. This has happened at the beach several times too.

4. Exercise & eat well. Take your frustrations out on the treadmill or weights. I'm doing that this morning. I think we're only just beginning to discover, scientifically,what a huge impact the food we eat has on our bodies. Good stuff in will help you feel great, have more energy and have a brighter outlook. There are a lot of chemicals in processed foods and sugary foods that make us feel limp, dull and cloudy in the head. They should always be avoided, but in frustrating times it's even more important to eat well.

5. Seek inspiring study. I'm always a fan of something uplifting to raise me to higher heights. There are so many options, pick a favorite and look for something good. Last night I read this article on spiritual falsehoods that can discourage us.

6. Take stock in your good works. On Sunday I sat down and made a list of all the things I'd done in the past two days. While it didn't seem like much at first, once I got going I had a fairly substantial list of things I'd been doing with my time. Realizing that we'd taken care of our top family priorities as well as a mountain of other things I recognized that I am doing much more than it feels like every day.

7. Accomplish little things. It's amazing how good it can feel to get a few things done. It doesn't take many minutes of concentrated efforts before the mood lifts and you start to feel better about things. A few minutes cleaning up any area of the house makes me feel much better about life. Even just making the bed gets the day off to a much cheerier start. Sometimes I like to just take three minutes and put ten things away that are out of place. If everyone helps it's even better.

8. Do something you love. Taking a few minutes to make a favorite craft, read a good book, garden or just chat with a friend on the phone is a gift to yourself that can make life feel positive and rewarding.

9. Rest. I write about this all the time and I do think it's one of the great struggles of womankind. I see it everywhere. But I would caution to make it restorative rest. I have noticed that playing on my computer, even when I am doing something fun like Pinterest, does not restore me. It's an escape for a while, it can be fun, but I don't feel rested afterwards. Doing things that are truly restful for the body, mind and soul are critical for our happiness. I'm trying to do better at gauging both the quantity AND quality of my rest.

10. Lower expectations. Let's be honest. We do too much and we still want to do more. Our real peace and happiness lie in doing less, not more. I have fought the good fight over the past few years to strip away things that are not critical and I still have to do this constantly. I cannot do it all. I cannot contribute time and money to every good request for help from the world, I cannot do everything I would love to do for my family, I cannot do all the fun projects I want to do, I cannot have "the perfectly clean all the time" house I would love to have. It's just not possible.

When we lower our expectations we relieve our own stress, we are more pleasant to be around and we are better able to enjoy our beautiful lives as they are right this minute. There are times and seasons for things in life, but to fancy that we must have them all at one time is a recipe for disaster, breakdown, depression, frustration and feelings of failure.

Two other things which I've talked about here repeatedly are gratitude lists and counting blessings. I did sit down this week and make a list of all the miracles that have happened in our lives this year. That WAS encouraging. Looking at the good that comes into our lives every day definitely puts a brighter light on life!

A combination of all these things has me still smiling and while I continue to attempt to banish "the grumpies" over here, I hope these ten little ideas will help you get out of your next bad mood. It's nice when they are few and far between but I know they come to all of us at times. Hang in there, keep on smiling. This too shall pass!

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