Lifting Your Spirits
10 ways to renew your emotional energy
It’s easy to feel that way in the winter, but those feelings are prone to pop up at any time of the year.
To help you guard against feeling emotionally rundown, Marcia Boring, LCSW, women’s behavioral care specialist for Community Health Network, and Vickie Milazzo, author of the New York Times best-seller Wicked Success is Inside Every Woman, offer these tips.
1. Take care of yourself.
Habits like eating well, getting sufficient sleep and exercising are simple, but they can be difficult if you’re feeling down, Boring says.
“Those basics are top priority,” she says. “That’s always where I would start.”
She also recommends re-establishing a set bedtime and wake-up time if that structure has fallen by the wayside.
2. Let it go.
We all have moments of dissatisfaction and frustration, Milazzo says. Give yourself a set amount of time, say, one minute, to dwell on it, then let it go and move on.
“When we get too deep into suffering, whining or complaining, we’re distracting ourselves from our own goals,” Milazzo says. “If I dwell on it for 20 minutes, how is that serving me?”
It’s important to rein in your frustration and not spend hours focusing on its source.
“Worry is a useless emotion,” Milazzo points out. “Those negative emotions don’t have much use to them.”
3. Do one thing differently.
If you’ve noticed a negative attitude as of late, Boring suggests asking yourself, “what’s one thing I can do differently today?”
It could be as simple as taking a shower, going for a walk or calling a friend to catch up.
“Identify that one thing you can do today to get off the couch, get out and get moving,” Boring says.
4. Find acceptance.
Stop comparing yourself and your life to everyone else.
“Doing so robs us the joy of our assets,” Milazzo says. “We need to accept those things that we can not change.”
Instead, focus on improving what you can.
“The more you can accept yourself, the more you can believe in your abilities to accomplish a dream or goal you have, and the more likely you’ll go for it,” Milazzo points out.
5. Enjoy the moment.
Instead of “Thank God it’s Friday,” how about “Thank God it’s today”? Milazzo asks. Living for the weekend is not living. Try to think of each moment as a gift.
6. Keep a journal.
Boring recommends this to many of her patients.
“Journaling is a great form of self-expression,” she says. “It helps to get things out. The longer we dwell on them in our heads, the bigger they tend to get.”
Instead of jotting down everything negative that happened that day, she suggests writing at least one positive thing. And don’t just stash it away in a forgotten drawer.
“A lot of times, looking back over it can be helpful in terms of assessing your progress and how you continue to think things through and do them differently,” Boring says.
Highlight the positive events so that, when you read through the journal, those will stand out, she suggests.
7. Make time for yourself.
One of the best ways to pull yourself out of an emotional funk is to carve out time that’s just for you.
“The most important thing is to make yourself a priority,” Boring says.
Take time to do what you enjoy, whether it’s a crossword puzzle, getting a massage or cooking a favorite dish.
Part of Milazzo’s routine is to set aside the first 30 minutes of each day just for her.
“That’s when I connect with myself,” she says. “I don’t wake up to my computer, my spouse, or the TV or radio. Those first 30 minutes help me go out and deal with the chaos.”
Time you take for yourself is time that you control. That can go a long way toward facing each day with confidence, Milazzo says.
“With practice, our emotional energy can be so much stronger and we can feel more connected with those things that are important to us.”
8. Dump toxic clutter.
The material clutter that clogs your desk, kitchen counter and dining room table is bad enough. Toxic clutter, which Milazzo defines as relationships –– professional or personal –– that are emotionally draining, can be even worse.
If it’s a friend with whom you no longer have anything in common, you can sever those ties. Family members are trickier. If you can’t or don’t want to completely cut them out of your life, you can control how you spend time with them, Milazzo advises. Maybe when you visit, you stay in a hotel instead of their home.
“Control the environment somewhat,” she says. “There is a such thing as quality over quantity.”
9. Learn a new language.
No, this doesn’t mean start practicing French or Dutch. It means being careful about how you label things.
Milazzo shares the story of when she was in Iceland, and a woman told her, “There is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing.”
“A lot of our happiness is impacted by our perceptions, and those are often impacted by the words we use,” she says.
How you label something can influence how you handle it. Take the economy, for example.
“If we all sit around bemoaning the ‘bad’ economy, our behaviors will follow that label,” Milazzo says.
10. Turn off your inner critic.
Allowing a negative voice to take over affects you and everyone around you. Instead of letting that voice get the best of you, focus and comment on the good, Milazzo suggests.
Instead of zeroing in on how dusty your bookshelf is, why not take note of your beautiful bouquet of flowers?