Everyone faces days when nothing seems to run the way it should, and most people roll with the punches and are able to shake off the occasional bad day. However, when it seems like those bad days keep coming like June bugs against a clean windshield, then it’s time to take steps that will create a day that is pleasant, fulfilling and worthwhile.
Get a good night’s sleep
No matter how addicted a person is to Letterman’s “Top Ten” list, that list is no match for a great night of restful sleep. Getting fewer than 6 hours of sleep a day creates brain fog and reduces the ability to focus and concentrate. Prolonged bouts of sleeplessness can lead to physical problems such as slowed reflexes, blurred vision and fatigue; emotional problems such as irritability and depression are also associated with a lack of sleep. Relaxation exercises, meditation, listening to music or reading are healthy techniques for inducing sleep; watching television has been linked to chronic sleep deprivation and a poor quality of sleep. Give up Letterman and Leno, grab a book and begin building the foundation for a great day.
It may seem counterintuitive, but sustained physical activity makes people feel good. This is especially true for those working in an office environment or who normally have a sedentary lifestyle. A brisk walk, swimming, dancing, running or other physical activity that is steady and rhythmic increases the level of endorphins in the brain. Endorphins are nature’s “feel good” chemicals and these create what some people describe as a natural high. In addition, physical activity forces a person to breathe deeply which acts as a stress reliever. Thirty minutes of physical activity a day can yield hours of positive emotional results on top of the beneficial effects it has on the body.
Don’t just throw on some sweats or capri pants and drag around, dress in the most flattering outfit hanging in the closet. Strut a little – the attitude adjustment brings about a mood adjustment, and the compliments that will come don’t hurt either.
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On really bad days, laughing may be a challenge but it is possible. Read the comics, listen to a CD of a classic radio comedy, or watch the most convoluted screwball comedy movie ever made. Laughter lowers blood pressure and boosts serotonin. A belly-laugh a day keeps the psychiatrist away.
Do something different
“The daily grind” does grind a person into emotional dust. Take a different route home from work, talk to a stranger on the train, make pancakes for dinner, or eat dessert first. Shattering routines can bring about a new sense of adventure.
Leave yesterday behind
It seems that some people wear the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune like a robe, allowing yesterday’s negativity to stir up today’s dust. Some of history’s wisest teachers talk about “forgiveness”, and this simple act is a way to leave yesterday behind. To forgive doesn’t mean a person has to trust – or like – the individual who caused the pain. It just means that person’s negativity no longer has the power to make a mess of today.
Give something away
Whether it’s time, money, encouraging words or a random act of kindness, giving something away reorients a person’s attitude from one focused solely on self and one’s travails to one of purposeful connectedness and the empowering sense of making a difference.
Focus on what you can do, not on what you can’t
Everyone has limitations and is “handicapped” in some way, so no one is alone in his or her concern that some tasks just can’t be done. However, there are probably parts of any task that a person CAN do, even if it is getting on the internet and getting quotes from competent people who will perform the work on the task at hand. Focusing on what CAN be done makes the feeling of being overwhelmed fade quickly.
Set a meaningful goal, and make one step toward it
Life without a goal is like sailing on the ocean without a rudder, sails or oars. A person drifts along on the current of popular culture, landing wherever the dominant trend leads. It’s unlikely that particular shore is where the person wants to be or intended to land. Setting one meaningful goal acts as both rudder and compass; the goal focuses efforts, and behavior changes in small but significant ways in order to move in the direction of the goal. Goals may be great or small, but should be something that is intimately connected to a person’s soul. Susan Boyle is a great example of setting a goal and making slow progress. Everything in her life worked against her ever achieving her goal, yet she took one step, then another and then another to realize her goal of becoming a professional singer. Become like Susan Boyle. Dream a dream, and make one step toward making the dream a reality.
Connect with your Higher Power
Spend some time in the morning or evening connecting to God, your guardian angel or your higher self. Maintaining a regular connection to a higher power keeps a person both energized and grounded, and is much like the act of recharging a battery. A person’s higher power is their source of abundance, creativity and well-being; stay connected, and watch the channels of blessings open wide.