It’s January. Possibly the toughest month of the year. All the excitement of Christmas holidays and New Year’s celebrations are over. Back to work, back to school, and now the bills start to roll in! No wonder people tend to suffer from a bit of January blues!
Today, while listening to my favourite podcast Conversations with Richard Fidler on ABC, I was introduced to a fantastic idea to help deal with the blues.
The guest today was Peter Langston, an author, poet and ex teacher. His interview was not however, about his writing or even his teaching career – it was about his long history with mental health (Peter suffers from ‘ultra rapid cycling bipolar disorder’) and his sexual abuse as a child. While an incredibly powerful and painful topic, that’s a subject for another discussion. If you’d like to listen to Peter’s interview you can find it here: http://www.abc.net.au/local/stories/2014/01/23/3930899.htm?site=conversations
What I did want to blog about today was a remedy of sorts that Peter uses called ‘Rescue My Day’. The idea being that, when Peter suffers from an awful episode of depression after his manic and extreme ‘high’, he will feel like he can’t even leave the house. When he’s having one of these days, and it seems as though everything is just too hard – he or his wife will think of a little ‘Rescue My Day’ activity. Even if it’s simply making it out to the mailbox that day, it means the day was not a complete write-off.
While I can’t even begin to relate to what Peter has been through, I can certainly relate to the idea of having a really bad day. All of us have them. Some of us worse than others. Just like everyone else, I sometimes have days when I feel as though I can’t bear to get out of bed, let alone walk out the door. Not to mention when I’m having a bad hair day. Just shoot me!
I thought Peter’s idea was so great that I wanted to share with you all a little ‘survival pack’ of sorts – a little list of quick and easy ideas that we can all use to pull ourselves out of our relative ‘funks’.
Bad Day Survival Pack:
1) Use your ‘Rescue My Day’ card. Reserve for the worst of days, when you’re bound to do absolutely nothing, and then suffer from the guilt of wasting your day. Involve a spouse, friend or roommate to help and let them in on your bad day. Just one small achievement for the day, and feel proud of yourself. If you’ve got someone involved in it with you who understands what you’re going through, they will give you a pat on the back after you’ve done it! If you’re in it alone – give yourself a mental high five! Go you!
2) Positive Morning Moments. I use this one regularly. Had a stressful night and an awful sleep? Not looking forward to today at all? Before you even get out of bed, just lie there for a moment and list to yourself three things. Three things you’re grateful for, three reasons that today is going to be a good day, three things you want to achieve today, three things to smile about – three of whatever! 1) I’ve got a new lip gloss to try out today! 2) I am going to cook a great healthy dinner tonight and 3) I’m going to get to work early and score the best car park! YEAH! Ok, I’m ready now. Let’s go! Most importantly, give yourself a reason to smile before you get out of bed. And actually do it – put a grin on your face before you set a foot on the floor!
3) Sniff a lemon. Sound mental? Linalool, a substance found in lemons has been found to be an instant de-stresser. You can also use basil, juniper or lavender if you’re not into lemon. See if those wacky Japanese scientists know what they’re talking about!
4) Five Second Feel Good Meditation. Ok, so it’s not strictly meditation. But when I’m feeling rubbish and I find I’m mentally giving myself put-downs, I stop and try to counter the negative thought with something positive. Ie “god I’m so fat today”…..”stop it Maggie! You’re gorgeous. Look at your hair today, it’s amazing. And besides, why is everything about weight? You’re fabulous!” You may think this sounds ridiculous. But you’re doing it inside your head; no one can hear you giving yourself a pep talk. And I promise, the more you practice doing it, the less those little negative thoughts come up. And if you make yourself laugh because it’s so nuts, then even better! Laugh away!
5) The Happy Jar. I’ve got friends already doing this, and I’ve started too! It’s a bit of a sensation on social media lately. The idea is, you get a jar and put it somewhere prominent in the house. Every time you make a happy memory, you write it down on a piece of paper, fold it up and pop it in the jar. The original idea is to open in next New Year’s Eve, however I think it’s great all year round for giving yourself a pick-me-up. It’s a good way to realise that it’s not all bad, especially when you’re having a black mood and having real trouble finding anything positive about your life. The hardest part is remembering to write the good things down – but practice makes perfect!
So there’s my little survival pack of ideas for a bad day. They’re quick, they won’t cost you any money, and you can do them all on your own if you need to. Next time you’re having a rubbish day, give a couple of them (or all of them) a go!
Let me know what great little tricks you’ve got for pepping yourself up!
(oh and a final little note – when all else fails, an hilarious animal picture is always a winner!)