- Bring a water bottle with you EVERYWHERE. Seriously, hydration affects everything from our skin to our moods. The ripple effect of dehydration makes us moody, constipated, and our bodies will start to crave any foods we see (regardless of health content) because our body can leach water from the food. I most commonly hear people complain about the taste of water fountain water…I challenge you to conquer this fear as the cost of NOT drinking water fountain water is so steep. You can certainly fill it before leaving your home with your water of choice…but in a pinch, fill up! Take the leap and buy the water bottle you have been lusting after…it is a small price to pay for the benefits reviewed.
- Take time at the beginning of your week to review your schedule and make a plan for when you will eat each day. This seems to be the first thing people skip and again, the consequences have a negative ripple effect on everyone you encounter (including yourself)! Each morning, make sure you have a stash of healthy snacks available in your bag, car, purse and/or desk. The magic time frame that you don’t want to exceed is 4 hours between meals. The kindest thing you can do for your blood sugar is to keep it stable.
- Eat raw. There are oodles of studies that show the health benefits of eating raw fruits/veggies/nuts/seeds; there is even indication for reduced risk of cancer! Eating raw produce, nuts, and/or seeds also provides you with the nutrients, fiber, fluids and energy that you need for optimal mood end energy stamina to get through the day! I would encourage you to always keep your fridge (home and work) stocked with produce and cheerlead yourself into eating it before it goes bad! Some are easier than others to take on the road: bananas, apples and carrot sticks travel quite well.
- Meditate. I know…big eye rolls from about 75% of you. Mediation doesn’t have to mean full on lotus position for 60 minutes; mediation could mean you close your eyes and take 10 slow deep breaths to re-center yourself and then resume your day. Longer periods of quiet reflection time can produce more long-lasting benefits, yet you need to start somewhere!
- Go outside. I am not sure of an easier and more FREE life hack than going outside for fresh air and sunshine! The act of walking away from the task at hand, improving blood circulation and taking slow cleansing breaths will provide you with renewed energy and fresh perspective. Stand firm and insist on breath breaks…just as smokers insist on smoke breaks! If you have time on your drive home, stop at a local park and take a moment to yourself. Whether walking or sitting on a bench, enjoy nature.
- Take the stairs and the “bad” parking spot. We live a more sedentary lifestyle than ever before; we even have to rely on pedometer devices to encourage us to move our bodies! A quick few hacks for how to get more steps are to take the stairs more often (use a restroom on a different floor, don’t take elevators, make yourself go to a different floor of your house more often) and to opt for a really bad parking spot (ie: the one FURTHEST from your destination!).
So get with it and take a page from Hobby Lobby or Instagram’s book…
– print out those cutesy phrases
– follow inspirational people on social media
– splurge on that wall art that moves you
– set the backdrop of your phone and/or laptop to be motivational
– use a dry erase marker on your mirrors
– use bathtub crayons in your shower
– buy a positive though-a-day calendar
– buy the jewelry with the catchy calming phrase on it
Take control of that inner critic, silence the stadium full of nay-sayers in your head and BE NICE to you!
Feel free to share your favorite self-encouraging ideas, quotes and plans in the comments below.
What do you do when you are stuck?
- stuck in a meeting
- stuck in traffic
- stuck in line at the store
- stuck at home?
The reasons for stuck-ness are innumerable…mandated attendance, weather, the person in front of you can’t move, illness (hello flu season!); however, the feelings associated are typically the same: anger, annoyance, resentment, frustration. It may start off as slight irritation, moving into annoyance and frustration before moving into full blown anger; however typically, being stuck makes us mad!
So how are we going to get through this UNENDURABLE situation? To start, stop exaggerating! It’s not unendurable. It’s not typically as bad as we make it out to be in our head. Let me give you an example: I like Starbucks (fact), but the line at the drive through is absolutely ridiculous (opinion). My problem solving skills lead me to park and go inside every time I go there. I was very content with this decision. One day, while inside, I was so excited to see that there is a screen for the baristas that tells them how long people have been in the drive-thru. I expected to see 10 minutes….15 minutes…FOREVER! To my amazement, the longest wait time was 2 minutes 45 seconds. Really??….the line was LONG when I walked in! Then it hit me: I’ve been inside for about 3 minutes too! Why is it that being trapped in my car causes me to perceive time moving so much slower? I felt stuck!
How to guide to get unstuck:
- Realize that the trick isn’t actually to get unstuck, it’s to change how you feel about being (what you perceive as) stuck.
- Stop judging. Words like should, always, terrible, OMG, worst, never…are typically attached to a judgment. Instead, be descriptive. Explain how you feel and why.
Ex: Repleace “this is the longest line EVER, I ALWAYS get stuck in long lines” with “I am sitting in line at Starbucks, this has happened before and I can cope”
- Observe your posture.
Ex: Take your fingernails out of the steering wheel, let your shoulders fall from your ears back to their relaxed state, remove the scowl from your face…
- Consider other possible alternatives to catastrophizing
Ex: I finally have time to respond to those text messages (safely while not driving), I can plan the next few hours of my day, I can sit here and remember a positive memory to improve my mood, consider things you I am grateful for, or I can just enjoy this time to breathe!
- Stop fighting reality. In conjunction with #4, the reality is that you are in a situation that you can’t immediately get out of; catastrophizing is a great way to make the situation worse. Accept that you are where you are! (this will reduce suffering).
Are you are willing to give it a try? It’s amazing what changing your interpretation of a situation will do for your mood!
DBT has a skill called the “half smile”. Even the name brings on a smirk from people; however I want to take a moment to really explain this one…
Half smile is NOT about faking a smile or having a weird Cheshire Cat/Joker type cynical smile. If I re-named this skill, I’d call it “pleasant expression”. Basically you are relaxing your facial muscles and then ever-so-slightly putting a pleasant expression on your face, almost as if you were recalling a lovely memory. When we use certain facial muscles, our brain is tricked into thinking we really are happy and it will send us the feel-good chemicals associated! It is so powerful and packs a big punch for being such a minor task.
Half smiling is similar to Tyra Banks “smize”. If you actually watch WHAT she is doing differently between her normal face and her “smize”, she has ever so subtle crows feet appearing at the corners of her eyes, and the corners of her mouth are very slightly being tugged toward a smile. These are minuscule details; however, your body will pick up on them and adjust accordingly!
Half smiling can be done at any point in your day for a mood boost, it works faster than caffeine and sugar! I would especially challenge you to half smile when you are irritated, it really takes the edge off! Mona Lisa is another great reference, she has the look perfected!
Researcher Paul Ekman has in depth research available on his website that covers the science behind the half smile if you are interested on a deeper understanding! https://www.paulekman.com/