Let’s face it – everyone hits rough spots. (Unless you are Mary Poppins, she never seemed to get upset…) You might be sailing along, happy and content and then bam! Something out of left field gets you upset. Maybe you stub your toe. Maybe you get bad news. Maybe you spill your coffee on your favorite pants. Little or big, there are times when you need a quick way to get back to happy, pronto.
Over the years, I’ve tried lots of things to help me take life’s setbacks less seriously. I’ve asked my friends what they do to cure the doldrums and many times their suggestions simply take too long, too much planning or too much money. I can’t jet off to Tahiti because my performance review didn’t go well. I can’t take the day off to have a spa day and soak in mud with cucumbers on my eyes when my feelings have been hurt. I have responsibilities, time constraints and sometimes I just want to be happy NOW! I am, after all, part of the instant-gratification generation!
Here are 5 of my go-to techniques to get happier in a minute or less!
1. Close your eyes and take a few slow, deep breathes.
Deep breathing is a great way to lower your blood pressure, calm your mind and release endorphins. When my niece was about 2, she would get really wound up and I started having her do deep breathing with me. I made a game of it: we would face each other and I’d say, “Take a deep breath in…” and she’d watch me and breath in with all her might. “Now out slowly…” and we’d breathe out together. We’d repeat that three times, facing each other and end with a little bow. It was amazing how much calmer she became! It is still a go-to technique to calm her down – and now her brothers too! I do it myself when I find my mind racing or when something trivial gets me worked up!
2. Doodle yourself happy.
If I’m in a public place, at a professional gathering or some other place where I need to be discreet, I grab a pen and doodle. Doodling can do one of two things: it can help me tune out information that is stressing me out or it can actually help me retain information. According to Sunni Brown, author of the book, The Doodle Revolution, doodling can affect how we process information and solve problems. It can actually help us retain more information than if we just listen. (I wish Sunni Brown had been around to explain that to my teachers – I’ve been a life-long doodler!)
3. Sing out loud!
Karen Carpenter was onto something when she told us to Sing out loud, sing out strong! Singing boosts circulation, increases your oxygen intake which is good for your body and your brain, decreases anxiety and releases endorphins. If you aren’t the best singer and you don’t happen to be alone when you break out into song, you may end up laughing about the situation as you spread your joy – however out of key – with others.
4. Laugh it off!
I grew up watching the Brady Bunch every day after school. One episode that stood out was when the girls were having a sleepover and they decided to play “Ha”. They laid on the floor, each girl’s head on another girl’s stomach. They started off saying “ha” and then ended up laughing for real. I tried it with friends one time, we thought we could do it without really laughing, but discovered it was just so silly we started truly giggling. Laughter has many health benefits. Laughing relaxes your muscles and relieves stress, improves mood and lowers stress hormones. So now when I’m feeling stressed, I often turn to quick and funny videos on YouTube to get me laughing – it changes my focus, makes me happy and has all the health benefits I just mentioned!
Have you ever seen someone who is so angry that they start pounding their feet or even jumping up and down to make their point? Have you then noticed that their mood begins to shift? Jumping up and down, as if having a mini hissy-fit, is actually one of my favorite ways to get my happy back. I find jumping to be a go-to stress reliever when technology is not my friend. When my software crashes or my DVR forgets to record a favorite show, you may find me jumping up and down in an effort to release my frustration.
It turns out jumping is pretty amazing! It gets your blood flowing and your lymphatic system on the move. Jumping stimulates metabolism and releases serotonin – a stress relieving hormone that stabilizes your nervous system. It increases bone density and oxygen intake which helps you focus. Jump long enough and you get a cardio workout. Best of all – jumping up and down because things aren’t going your way doesn’t just make you look like a 2 year old, it makes you feel better!
These are just a few quick and easy mood boosters – some you can do discretely in a group and others that are louder and more active. So the next time life is getting you down, choose to take action to bring you back to a happier place. You don’t need a lot of money or vacation time, a minute or less will usually do the trick!
Featured photo credit: Fabien via flickr.com