I like to think I’m generally a happy person and that I enjoy the simple things in life. But I think we all have downer moments. [Of course I’m going to bring my pregnancy into this post because my life at this point of time revolves around this cute little growing tummy of mine and everything that comes along with it.] Pregnant woman really do break down and cry over everything and nothing. It’s true. I’m a sobbing mess. Most of the time, it’s brought about by good and happy things but every once in a while I break down over what seems like nothing. I find that I can’t handle as much as I did before I was pregnant. I get overwhelmed easily and sometimes I find myself just slipping into a melancholy mood for absolutely no reason! It’s during these times that I’m reminded just what a wonderful, sweet, good-hearted husband I have. He has been so kind and so patient through all of the yucky hormonal changes I’m going through (that even I don’t understand). He’s also helped me figure out several different ways to help pull me out of my sad mood and back to a sense of contentment.
It can be really discouraging to feel stuck in a downer mood so it’s nice (at least for me) to have a list of go-to “Happy Places and Thoughts” when those moments do sink in. So here are some of my own tips and tricks that I use when I’m starting to feel glum:
Focus on the PRESENT. My husband used this on me last time I was feeling down in the dumps. I talked about how overwhelmed I felt with everything I needed to get done that week and he said, “Ok… but what about right now? Do you absolutely have to do anything right now? or even tonight? Let’s just drop the things that aren’t emergency and worry about them tomorrow. Tonight is care free night.” Sometimes by doing this, you find that either: 1. The things you thought were pressing and important actually weren’t that pressing and important or 2. By taking a break from everything, you’re better able to handle them later.
Plan a Vacation. This doesn’t have to be for real. Just explore all the fun options like it is for real. Recently, when the tears first started rolling one hard evening, my husband said, “where do you want to go?! Do you want to go to Hawaii?? Let’s plan a trip to Hawaii!” And we immediately got online and started looking up flights and fun things we would do while in Hawaii. Sometimes just dreaming of fun getaways, whether they are a true possibility or not, can really lift your spirits. I can also see this doing the opposite though so do what works best for you!
Get Out! Exercise. And Breath. Wherever you are, just get out. If you’re at home, go on a walk. I noticed I start feeling sad when I’m not feeling good physically (which happens a lot when you’re pregnant). Sometimes all I want to do is crawl in bed and forget the world but I’ve found that walking outside and breathing in fresh air always helps clear my mind and give me better perspective on things. I’m also a huge advocate for natural light. If you’re in a room with no natural light, find some! I read an article awhile back about how to relieve stress and it mentioned that just taking a few minutes to look outside a window every day can help you decrease and better manage your stress. Enough said.
Find Something (ANYTHING) to Laugh About. I recently wrote a post about how laughter can really be the best medicine. I still believe that. Have you seen those ladies who can thread your eyebrows instead of plucking them? Amazing. Anyway, I kept telling my husband I wanted to try it out sometime and so last time I was feeling down, he said “I’ll be right back!” and he came back in with a long string of dental floss, put one end in his mouth, and proceeded to “thread my eyebrows”. I was laughing so hard it released those happy endorphins and got me back to feeling manageable.
Physical and Emotional Cleaning. It’s really amazing just how connected our physical bodies are with our emotions. Have you ever said to yourself, “I feel gross. I just need to take a shower.”? Sometimes when I feel “gross” emotionally I hop in the shower to get “clean” (or feeling better) again. Have you ever felt melancholy in your pajamas, but then changed into an outfit, did your hair, took care of your hygiene and realized your emotions did a total 180? Or what about your house? When my house is dirty it totally effects my emotions. Just the act of making something else clean can make me happier.
I also believe that our self-talk plays a huge role in our general happiness. I won’t go into this too much since Trish wrote an amazing article herself on Flipping the Switch to Positive Thinking. Maybe take a minute to evaluate how you are talking to yourself or even the language you use in your daily interactions with other people. Does that need to be cleaned up as well?
All in all, try cleaning up your physical body, your house, your mind, and your language and see if that increases your happiness.
Develop Hobbies! Having too much free time on my hands isn’t good for me unless I’m using that time wisely doing something productive. The days I feel the least amount of happiness are the days I’ve been cooped up in the house all day watching Netflix or sitting around. I think having free time is so important for our general health and well-being but it can easily turn around and be detrimental if we aren’t using it the right way. Think of something you can do that’s still giving you the relaxation or fun that you want and need but also offers you a feeling of accomplishment. For me, just writing posts for this blog has offered a whole new sense of productivity and accomplishment in my life that I didn’t have before. However even when I’m not writing I find joy in baking, cleaning, crafting, and getting our house ready for the baby. A big part of our happiness comes from our feelings of success and accomplishment. Often times we get caught up in the idea of BIG successes and don’t realize that the little accomplishments we do daily can also offer us feelings of good self-worth as well.
Gratitude. This is another topic that’s been address so beautifully in a post by Beau entitled Finding Joy Again (How I overcame Depression). He mentions how gratitude is what got him through his own form of depression in junior high as well as helped him keep a positive perspective at age 15 while learning to walk and talk all over again as a result of a brain tumor.
At a youth conference I attended several years ago we had a motivational speaker named Meg Johnson who really inspired me on the lesson of gratitude. She was paralyzed from the chest down after a terrible accident in St. George, UT. After the accident, while she was in the hospital, it seemed like her whole life was falling apart. Instead of letting herself get down about it, she decided to think of all the things she was grateful for in her one pinky that could move. She has an incredible perspective on life and getting through hard times. You can listen on audio or read about her story she entitled: “When Life Gets Hard” (I loved the audio because I thought it was fun to hear her own voice describe the experience) or You can check out her website by clicking here.
Service. Ha! You knew you would see this on this list somewhere right? We almost got by without it. We can pretend like it’s not selfish but most of us already know that by serving others what we’re really doing is helping ourselves. But this is one time I think it’s OK to be selfish. 😉
Be Content While Still Suffering Need. I do love this concept. Phil 4: 11-12 instructs us to be content and full in whatsoever state we’re in but also to be hungry and suffer need. Think about that for just a minute. How can we be content and suffer need at the same time?? Here is how I like to perceive it: Sometimes I feel like I’m stuck in a certain season in life. I know we’re told that we’re always progressing or digressing in life but I’ve had times in my life that I’ve literally felt were flatter than a pancake. These were the times where I longed for something more than the menial season I was in and I found it hard to be happy OR content. I think what Paul means is that we need to enjoy, be patient, and be satisfied with every season we pass through while still looking forward and progressing toward something more.
Most importantly, don’t get discouraged and think you aren’t “normal” because you’re having a gloomy moment. Who can really define what normal is anyway?? Something I’m so grateful for in recent speeches and lectures I’ve listened to is the acknowledgment that yes, depression and dark moments are real. And yes, some people experience it much more frequently than others. Depression is NOT something you should be ashamed of but it is something we should treat like we would any other sickness, whether the treatment be one of the options above or seeing a medical professional in more severe cases. The important thing is that we try to be understanding and sensitive of these emotions in ourselves as well as others. No matter how fleeting or serious these feelings of darkness and despair are, there is and always will be hope and light at the end of the tunnel.
What are some ways that you have found helpful in pulling yourself out of a glum moment?