Teaspoon of HappyLet's Turn This Ship Around: Getting Yourself Out of Those Bad PlacesSarah May Bates

You know that state of mind when you’re in a bad mood and you feel like crap, and then you just do something that makes that state 20% worse? Let’s say it’s sitting in front of the TV with a block of cheese late at night or perhaps yelling at a loved one over something you know isn’t the issue you’re upset about. Whatever that thing is, when you’re in a bad place mood-wise, not taking steps to fix that mood can kick-off a chain reaction of negativity. It can also make you into a ball of spikes rolling downhill: anything in your path will be scratched as you pass it. In-short, not worth it.

Here’s a little mantra to give that tiny voice in the back of your head when you’re in said state: “Let’s turn this ship around!” It’s a Hail Mary to take the reins and stop whatever you’re doing and start making you feel better. Turn of the TV and brush your teeth! You’ve got to wake up early to jog in the morning.  If you’re about to yell at someone that is obviously an innocent bystander, back out of the room. You’ve got some fixin’ to do. Think of it as a sort of “stop, drop and roll” that directs you to change your behavior.

The first thing I like to do is as long a handstand as possible. Next I will go for a walk around the block with some up-beat music, paired with slow, deep breathing. Next I might do my nails or cook something that takes time from a recipe book. Anything to even out the chatter in your brain that’s endlessly analyzing stressful information, and anything to produce healthy blood flow.

Another extremely helpful practice is 5 minutes of total brain-quiet. Find a quiet place to lie on the ground and position a rolled up towel or small pillow below your shoulder blades. You’ll be in a swan-dive-like position with your heart elevated, lying on your back, on the ground. Close your eyes and breath in and out through your nose as slowly as possible. See if you can think of nothing at all. If you are distracted by noise, try downloading a white noise track on the interwebs and put it on headphones.

If you cohabitate with someone and you’re in a semi-fixed but still semi-crappy mood state, sometimes it’s best to not talk at all for the rest of the day. You can still communicate with actions but perhaps commit to not discussing anything serious. Your brain should be dismissed for the remainder of the day.  And feel free to inform this person of your need to do this. They should be warned that it’s not about them, if you’re going to need to shut off verbal communication for a while.

When you are in a stressed or chemically depressed state even though it’s the absolute hardest time to motivate, it’s the most important time to take steps toward self-care. Don’t let yourself get away with succumbing, just listen to that tiny voice that knows you can take positive actions. It’s amazing how much better you can feel in a single day and how different your outlook will be once you’ve gone for a good run or spent some quiet time to balance-out the two hemispheres of your brain. Think of yourself as an amoeba: the stuff of your day flows in and out of you even when you don’t notice it. Sometimes we have to let it float out again so we can return to ourselves.

“Let’s turn this ship around.” It’s silly, but it’s a new little mantra that I’ve put to good use. I hope it’s of some use to you, too. Happy Sunday everyone!

xox Sarah

Featured image Copyright All rights reserved by Lenelenka

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  1. Good lord. . . Im glad I went digging through the blogs today. . . TOTALLY needed this. Thanks for the positive pick me up!

  2. I absolutely love this post! Everything you stated is very true. What a lovely mantra to live by.

  3. It is so, so hard to do that little thing that will make you feel better, whether it’s showering and getting dressed or taking a walk. There have been times when I physically couldn’t do it, but when I’m able to make the effort, things start to seem better already. It’s the little things that count. We don’t always let ourselves realize how important those little steps are. We need to congratulate ourselves on them.

    • Sooooo true. It’s the littlest things. I should have added that to this posting! Very glad you wrote that. I couldn’t agree more. EVERYTHING in the right direction – no matter how small – matters hugely. Thanks Elisabeth. xoxox

  4. Love reading your therapeutic pieces as always Sarah! I especially needed to read this today, as I am in the midst of job searching after grad school and have felt quite discouraged by it all. Your words of wisdom are incredibly helpful and ones that I will remember to help “turn my ship around.”

  5. I was just laid off from my job of 6+ years two days ago. I have been feeling weird and moody and this little reminder is just what I need so shake off the gloom. Thanks for the tips.

    • Hi Sarah, I am so sorry to hear that and I will be thinking of you and sending you good vibes! Thanks for your compliment. xoxox Sarah

  6. Sarah, this is soooo brilliant!! Such a great gift! This is why I love your column so much, it’s not only good advice, it’s also so practical! I love this mantra and will definately put it to use!
    When I feel rather… intoxicated, there are two things I do. 1, I exaggerate. Not taking it out on someone else, of course. I just take a moment to focus and think or say loudly to myself “I’m so anxious I will faint!” or “This is the worst thing that ever happened to me, ever!” or “This is a disaster!!” or sth along that line. I try to make it as absurdly dramatical as possible. Oddly, it works, it helps me get perspective. 2, I set mechanical thinking mode. I put on a song I love and concentrate on the lyrics, singing them in my head, or I open a book (Harry Potter usually, it really works) and focus until I’m completely absorbed in it. Worst case scenario, TV- it shuts down all brain activity. When I surface again, I’m always calmer. Oh, and baking always helps! Cooking is great, but mixing chocolate and vanilla nad stuff, and dip your fingers in the process and end up with a cake, it’s just too fantastic to stay mad.
    Have fun, everyone! x

    • That makes me so happy to hear Amalia!!! You’re like my blog cheerleader. haha. I do all of those things too. And I’m getting hungry just reading your cooking-soothing process. :) xox Thanks as always! Sarah

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