Christmas is over.
No more lights, no more movie specials, no more presents, cookies or amazing 80s remakes of “Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town.” All we are left with is cold weather and failed New Year’s Resolutions.
I’m always feeling down this time of year. I don’t have much of anything to look forward to besides the busy season at work and four months’ worth of snow and rain.
Conventional methods like therapy and antidepressants aren’t my cup of tea. I tried therapy once, but my therapist was a bit of a dud. Seriously, who tells someone scared of flying that they are glad the last plane they were on didn’t crash?
This list isn’t designed to cure depression or other serious mental health problems; please don’t hesitate to seek professional help. These are just the six things that actually help boost my spirits when I’m sad, down, angry or just plain grumpy:
1) Write it Out.
I keep a gratitude journal where I force myself to write three things that I’m thankful for every single day. Looking through all the great things in my life helps lift my spirits, and helps me remember happier times. If I’m bummed for a specific reason or about a particular situation, I write out my frustrations. The paper doesn’t judge, offer advice or gossip about my insecurities. It just sits there calmly while I pour out my heart. Sometimes I tear up my paper as a form of overcoming my sadness. Other times it ends up on elephant journal.
2) Dance, Baby, Dance.
Deep down, I’m still a teenager overflowing with angst. Blaring some emo like Sleeping with Sirens or Falling in Reverse while I jump up and down and sing to my cats helps me release all the tension I hold in. Moving around allows our good friends the endorphins to escape, and listening to all the problems of some sexy, long-haired, tattooed god reminds me that my problems aren’t all that bad after all.
3) Treat Yo’self.
Get some fro-yo with all the toppings, take a bubble bath, escape on a spa day, splurge on that dress you’ve been fawning over for months. It can be as simple as an evening in with movies and pizza or as fabulous as a vacation to Bora Bora. Sometimes I just need to spoil myself to remember how good life can actually be. What would you do for a friend who feels down? Do that for yourself.
4) Gimme Somethin’ to Break.
The Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire offers perhaps the best therapy I’ve ever experienced. They have a booth called “The Wrecking Room” where you can throw empty wine bottles at a brick wall. I know it sounds crazy, but I felt so much better after hurling three or four of those babies. I just picture whatever is bothering me and focus on smashing it. If breaking glass sounds too dangerous, bowling is a great option. Hurling heavy spheres at unsuspecting pins while wearing some sweet slippery shoes and drinking a few beers leaves me feeling pretty good.
5) Pay It Forward.
Even though I really don’t feel like it, I smile and give someone a compliment. I just want to go home after work and bury myself under the covers while slipping into a peaceful coma, but I take my little out for sushi. I’m running late for work and already fearing another lecture on the importance of being on time, but I stop and drop five dollars into the beggar’s hat. Helping others always lifts the fog of the blues, perhaps more than anything else. And I can always use a few more deposits in my karma bank. Being kind and giving when I don’t feel happy isn’t always easy, but the payoff is totally worth it.
6) Run Away.
When all else fails, I plan a vacation. Going on an adventure makes me feel alive. The sun and sea are good for my soul. Not only do I get a week or two away from everything, I get a few months with something to look forward to and a lifetime of memories to look back on. Sometimes I even double up and go on a volunteer trip where I’m helping others while enjoying lovely weather, exploring a new place, and crossing things off my bucket list. For me, changes in latitude really do bring changes in attitude.
I’m always looking for new ways to boost my spirits. Seriously, who can’t use more happiness? Please comment with what works for you when you need to beat up the blues.
Bonus video: Climbing is an awesome way to beat the blues too!
Author: Staci Lerch-Moist
Editor: Toby Israel