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feeling sad? try these quick pick-me-ups!

When-Youre-Sad

 

January is always a bit of a sad month for me -- and I know I'm not alone in this. For a lot of people, it's a gloomy, gray month filled with the dreaded post-holiday blues. It's back-to-work after a couple of months of fun-filled activities, and it's a especially tough time for anyone who suffers from SAD. About a year ago, I drew the image above when I was having a hard time after the holidays (it's always such a letdown when they're over, isn't it?), and I spotted it recently when I was flipping through my old sketchbook. 

Just like last year, this January has been less-than-stellar for me. I've always disliked this month, though I'm not sure if it's because of the post-holiday blues, the weather, or just the coincidence that things seem to get harder for me when the first month of the year rolls around. Whatever the reason, January is usually tough. And this one has been no exception. It's been filled with a lot of uncertainty and moments of unhappiness. When I rediscovered this image I created, I realized that it would be a good time to start taking my own advice -- and to share it, just in case anyone else out there could use some suggestions for those sad days. 

Whether you're going through a sad situation (a loss, a break-up, etc.) or you're just having a bit of a down day, these are some of the best ways I've found to feel a little happier when I'm feeling low. If you have any other tips or tricks you use when you're feeling sad, I'd love to hear them in the comments section below! 

 

WRITE YOURSELF A LOVE LETTER

Self-love is a great place to start when you're having a down day. Take a few minutes to write up a letter to yourself about all of the reasons you're awesome. This might sound like vanity or excessive self-pride, but it's actually really helpful when you're feeling sad. It shifts your focus from what's wrong to what's right. (If you find it too hard to write a love letter to yourself, give a gratitude list a try. Gratitude is a great way to focus on happiness!)

 

SMILE IN THE MIRROR

Smiling at yourself in the mirror can be a great little pick-me-up, even when you don't at all feel like smiling. (In fact, science shows that smiling might actually make you feel happier!) If you're a lipstick-wearer, it can also be fun to add a bright red or pink lip. It'll add a little fanciness to that smile of yours. You'll probably feel silly when you first try it, but that's part of the fun. Usually you'll feel so silly that you'll start laughing at yourself, which is a great mood booster. 

 

TAKE A NAP

While I'm not a big nap-taker personally, I know there's a lot of science that says a well-timed nap can make you feel a lot better (particularly if you're sleep-deprived, something that can happen when your feeling sad or stressed). Even if you don't love naps, give yourself time to rest and relax. Sadness --  even just a little dip in your mood -- can be exhausting, and you deserve a nice little rest. When you're sad, give yourself permission to take time for rest. 

 

TREAT YOUR SELF

Inspired by this episode of Parks & Recreation, one thing you can try when you're feeling bad is give yourself a little treat. Go grab a favorite scoop of ice cream, order a pizza, schedule a spa day, buy yourself a new book -- whatever it is you love, treat yourself to it! Of course, sadness can't be bought (or eaten...) away, but I've found that it's really nice to have a little treat when I'm feeling sad. 

 

PUT ON A GREAT OUTFIT

When you're down in the dumps, it's so tempting to sit around in sweatpants, fueling that sad feeling. While I'm not at all against sweatpants (I love them), I've found that it's really useful to get up and get dressed in something you really feel great in. Consider what outfit always makes you feel great about yourself and put that on -- even if you're just staying at home. Decking out in your best gear will give your mood a boost. 

 

DRINK SOME TEA

Drinking tea has a ton of health benefits, which makes it a great go-to when you're feeling sad. Not only is it healthy, but I've found that the warmth of it can be really soothing (especially during the cold month of January!). Sadness won't ever be cured with a cup of tea, but it's a nice way to add a bit of warmth and calm into your day. For an additional happiness boost, give a new kind a try. Doing something new is a good way to perk up your brain! 

 

CALL A FRIEND

One of the absolute best ways to cheer yourself up when you're sad is calling a good (and positive!) friend. You know that person who always knows how to find the good in a situation? Or the one that makes you feel like a rockstar when you're down? Call him or her up for a chat -- and a mood boost. Another great option is to create a connection with someone positive. Check out the Happiness Amplification Project to learn more about increasing happiness.  

 

LISTEN TO HAPPY SONGS

Sad songs can be alluring when you're feeling sad, but, believe me, happy songs are the way to go. Check out my Stay Positive! playlist on YouTube if you don't have a lot of happy songs in your life. Happy tunes can really boost your mood, and they work even better if you move to the music. One of my go-to tactics for down days is putting on some positive songs and dancing around my apartment. It sounds (and probably looks) silly, but it's a great way to feel happier. 

 

BUY YOURSELF FLOWERS

I'll admit -- I'm not big on flowers myself. I'd much rather have a box of chocolates or a playlist full of songs. But I know a lot of people benefit from the bright hues and floral scents that flowers bring to a room. So if you're feeling down, pick up some flowers for yourself as a little mood boost. And if flowers aren't your thing, find a way to focus on colors, sights, or scents that make you feel happy. 

 

LIGHT A CANDLE

Another great scent-related mood booster comes from lighting a candle. Not only is it pretty (and it sets the mooood), but if you pick a scent you love, it'll perk you up a little bit. I personally love anything that is sickeningly sweet (think: fresh baked cake, frosted sugar cookies, etc.), but there's a candle out there for every single scent preference. Try making your dinner a candlelit one or taking a bubble bath surrounded by scented candles.  

 

WRITE ABOUT YOUR FEELINGS

Writing is my outlet when things aren't going well. Whenever I feel sad, I grab a pen or my laptop and pour out my feelings, and, man, does it feel good. Even if you don't consider yourself a writer, writing about how you feel can be so cathartic and clarifying. Often it's when I write that I find solutions to my problems or uncover a perspective I hadn't thought of before. And the great thing is -- you can get it all out you and not show it to a soul. 

 

MAKE SOMETHING

I love creating things, and it's one of the quickest ways for me to boost my mood. Not only does it feel good to make something that no longer existed before, it's also a great way to get out of your mind (and rumination on sad thoughts) and direct your focus to what you're working on. While it's never a good idea to ignore your feelings, sometimes it's good to take a break from them and create something with your hands. 

 

TAKE A WALK

Another way to break the rumination cycle is to go for a walk. Take a turn around the block, visit a local park, or go for a power-walk at your local mall. It doesn't matter where you walk -- just get out of where you've been feeling sad and experience a new environment (with a little light exercise thrown in!). Add a soundtrack if you like (like my Relaxing Walk playlist) to keep excessive rumination at bay. 

 

READ A GOOD BOOK

Nothing feels quite as wonderful as good book (at least, if you're a book nerd like me!). A really captivating book can take your mind away from your sadness and allow you to focus on a story that's far away from wherever you are. Choose a genre that really appeals to you and set aside some quite, alone time to spend turning pages and becoming absorbed in someone else's words. You can check out what I'm reading on GoodReads (and check out my book here!). 

 

WATCH A FUNNY FILM

Another great way to cheer yourself up is to watch a really funny film. My go-to film for sad days is Elf. I don't care what the season; if I'm having a down day, it's going on the TV. If you have a film like that -- one that you always want to watch when you're feeling down, a sad day is the perfect time to put it on. And if you don't have a favorite? Ask a friend for a recommendation or check online for good ideas. 

 

LOOK AT THE BIG PICTURE

The absolute best thing you can do for yourself when you're sad is focusing on the big picture. Whatever's causing your sadness might feel overwhelming and all-encompassing at the moment, but it will get easier to cope with in time. In most cases, what's got you down today won't matter in a year -- or even in a month. And even if it will, the pain will lessen as time goes on. Also, I've found it helpful to look up at the stars and realize just how small I am in this crazily huge universe. It helps, I promise. 

 

Like it or not, sadness is part of life. We all have our down days. We all have the moments that break our hearts, the times when we just feel like crying. But there are lots of little things you can do to help yourself cope with sadness. The tips I've listed above are useful for bouts of heartache or a bit of post-holiday blues. If you think you might be suffering from serious sadness or depression, please reach out to a loved one or a therapist and seek help. We can be happy every moment of our lives, but we all deserve as much happiness as possible. If you're just feeling a little down, hang in there. You're not alone -- and it will get easier!

 

 

 

 

PPGTL-Footer Love-Self-Footer Find-Self-Footer


 

 


what are you doing for others? : 100 great ideas

What-are-you-doing-mlk

 

If you love quotes like I do, you'll know that Martin Luther King, Jr. was a man of many wise words. While I was searching through his quotes the other day, the one above stopped me in my tracks. Due to the nature of my work, I spend a lot of time focusing on the self (and encouraging others to do the same). A lot of my work is based on turning one's gaze inward and finding ways to make life better from the inside out. Self-love and self-knowledge are some of my favorite topics to write about because I believe the relationship you have with yourself is the foundation for all your relationships. (For more on building this foundation, check out Finding Your Self and Loving Your Self.) But, of course, cultivating self-love and a positive attitude is only part of equation for living a positive and present life. Another huge aspect is doing what you can to make the world a more positive place. 

When I first read this quote, I immediately thought, What am I doing for others? What am I doing on a daily basis to make the world a more positive place? What I love most about what I do for work is that I have the power to positively impact the lives of others online. I have the opportunity to reach out to others and share what I've learned about living a more positive, more present life. While this is nothing on the level of a positive impact of someone like MLK, it does feel good to know that, in some small way, I might be doing something for someone else. And, even if you don't have a positivity-focused job, I bet you have some area of your life in which you positively impact others -- coworkers, family members, kids, friends, etc. 

We all have the power to do something kind for others, to make the world a better place by taking positive action (even if we don't all have the opportunity to be inspirational activists and leaders like MLK!), but sometimes when life gets busy or we're overwhelmed by our own stress, we can forget about the positive power we wield on a daily basis. In honor of MLK (and positive, forward-thinking leaders everywhere), I encourage you to embrace that power and do (at least!) one small positive thing on the list below to make someone else's life just a little bit better.  

  1. Write a letter to a friend that lives far away
  2. Call up a relative who might be lonely
  3. Bring your neighbor's paper up to the door
  4. Sign up to volunteer at a local shelter
  5. Bake a special treat for someone you love
  6. Be on time when meeting up with others
  7. Read a story aloud to a child you know
  8. Let someone else go ahead in line
  9. Pay for the person's coffee behind you
  10. Give a generous tip to a service person
  11. Like every photo on your Instagram feed
  12. Send flowers to someone who loves them
  13. Plant something in honor of someone
  14. Visit the gravesite of someone you've lost
  15. Take your dog for a long, fun walk
  16. Give your significant other a massage
  17. Send an "I love you" text just because
  18. Let someone else win a silly argument
  19. Forgive someone who's hurt you
  20. Do someone else's chores for him/her
  21. Play with animals in a shelter (or adopt!)
  22. Make someone else's favorite meal 
  23. Send an email to an author/blogger you love
  24. Connect two people who might hit it off
  25. Make someone else laugh with a joke
  26. Offer to run an errand for a busy friend
  27. Respond with kindness to someone unkind
  28. Smile at every neighbor you see today
  29. Text an old friend to reconnect
  30. Donate things you don't use to a shelter
  31. Send a "just because" gift to a friend
  32. Make (and share!) a list someone's good traits
  33. Send a friend an old photo of you two
  34. Pay for someone's meal at a restaurant
  35. Stand up for someone who's in trouble
  36. Write to Congress re: an issue you value
  37. Donate old books to your local library
  38. Volunteer to read to others who cannot
  39. Spend time chatting with an elderly neighbor
  40. Offer to wash your parents' cars
  41. Post nice comments on social media
  42. Draw a picture for a child
  43. Visit children at a local hospital
  44. Speak up for voiceless animals
  45. Donate time or money to a good cause
  46. Put someone else's needs before yours
  47. Share your favorite blog with a friend
  48. Positively review a product you love
  49. Offer to babysit a friend's kids
  50. Smile at people in cars next to yours
  51. Bring a loved one breakfast in bed
  52. Compliment a complete stranger
  53. Give your pet an extra special treat
  54. Offer to work late for a coworker
  55. Clean up someone else's mess
  56. Warm up a loved one's car 
  57. Give someone a huge, bear hug
  58. Make a special lunch for someone
  59. Get your coworker's coffee for him/her
  60. Offer to take notes for someone else
  61. Help someone with a task you do well
  62. Send anonymous flowers to a friend
  63. Let a car cut in front in traffic
  64. Tell a heart-warming story to a friend
  65. Give a great book to a bookworm
  66. Grocery shop for a parent / neighbor
  67. Drop off dog/cat food at a shelter
  68. Tip someone you don't have to tip
  69. Speak to a manager about good service
  70. Offer to take a photo for selfie-snappers
  71. Write a (handwritten!) thank you note
  72. Fill up someone's parking meter
  73. Leave a positive note on someone's car
  74. Give what you can to a homeless person
  75. Take flowers to a nearby nursing home
  76. Compliment a parent on his/her child
  77. Point out the positive to someone
  78. Tell someone why you love him or her
  79. Put your phone away while with others
  80. Talk to someone who looks shy
  81. Make a playlist or CD for a friend
  82. Pick up litter and throw it away
  83. Give someone else the parking space
  84. Write your mail carrier a nice note
  85. Include everyone in a conversation
  86. Text "good morning!" to a friend
  87. Plant a tree at your local park
  88. Encourage someone's efforts
  89. Bring in a sweet treat for coworkers
  90. Go to Coinstar and donate your change
  91. Sign up to attend a fundraiser
  92. Call your parents (or grandparents)
  93. Buy a product from a small business
  94. Help someone with bags / boxes
  95. Share your gratitude with your parents
  96. Sign up to become an organ donor
  97. Give a homeless person a coat / blanket
  98. Donate in someone else's name
  99. Teach a child how to do something
  100. Ask someone, "How can I help you today?"

 

The things on this list might seem small in comparison with the acts of great leaders, but did you know that kindness is contagious? Yep, it's true! Doing something kind for someone else makes it more likely that person will do something kind and then there's a ripple effect. So, it might seem like doing one small, positive thing isn't a big deal, but small things can have a big impact!

Have any additional acts of kindness to add to this list? Feel free to share them in the comments section below! 

 


6 tips for tackling tough conversations

Speak-Now-Taylor-Swift
Image via Big Machine Records

 

Have you ever been in a position where you really wanted to talk to someone about something but the topic of conversation was really awkward / emotional / sensitive and so you put it off for ages hoping that it would somehow be resolved or disappear but, without talking about it, there was obviously going to be no miraculous solution so you had to actually get the courage to bring it up and you were so scared to do it and it had been on your mind for so long that you didn't even know where to begin? 

If you answered yes, I feel you. That was me a couple of weeks ago. There was a big scary conversation I wanted to have, and I'd been wanting to have it for months and months and months but every time I was about to bring it up, I got way too scared and chickened out. This happened over and over and over again. 

Until, one day, I realized that, if I didn't say what I needed to say, I'd always be wondering what would have happened if I had. When the clock struck midnight on New Year's Eve, it hit me over the head like a ton of bricks: if I wanted to talk about something (and I wanted change in the New Year), I was going to have to open my mouth and speak. No one was going to do it for me. I had to stop second guessing myself, worrying about the conversation not going the way I wanted it to go, and just do it

Also, on NYE, I was deeply inspired by this. It might sound silly for a grown woman to be motivated by a music video, but for years I'd been feeling so much anxiety and uncertainty. And, scared as I was to let go of those feelings, I desperately wanted to be "out of the woods," to be in a place of stability and clarity. After watching the video (over and over again!), I knew the only way I'd ever be the version of the girl at the end of the video would be to open my mouth and speak the words constantly circling in my mind. 

In a way, the video is very much a metaphor for what it feels like when you're scared to have an important conversation -- you're overwhelmed by feelings of anxiety, wondering what could be, scared of where you are but just as scared of what will happen when you eventually are brave enough to speak your mind. Whether you're having a relationship-based conversation, a salary negotiation, a serious talk with a boss or client, or a heart-to-heart with a friend, the point leading up to the actual speaking is a scary time indeed. 

But the only way to get out of the woods -- out of that place of anxiety and uncertainty -- is to use your words. As someone who put doing this off for months, I know just how hard this can be. I finally had the courage to say what I needed to, and I know you can too. Here are some of the best pieces of advice I can offer for anyone struggling to have a tough conversation: 

 

KNOW THE OUTCOME YOU WANT

Get specific about what you really want before you launch into a tough conversation. It's not enough to think "I want to make more money" or "I want her to be more affectionate." You need to have concrete desires in place, like "I want a 10% raise" or "I want her to hold my hand in public and spend more time cuddling with me." If you don't know (and say) specifically what you want, how is someone else supposed to give it to you? Imagine (in detail!) what it will be like to have the exact outcome you want. Also, ask yourself why you want this. Understanding the why will show you what you're really looking for. Do you want more money because you feel unappreciated at work? Will money make you feel more valued? Do you want a committed relationship because you truly love this specific person? Or do you just want a relationship in general? Getting to the heart of why you want what you do will help you have a much more productive conversation (or it show you that you don't need to have the conversation at all!). 

 

THINK ABOUT THE OTHER PERSON

When it comes to big scary conversations, it's important to consider not only your own needs and desires, but also those of the person (or people) you're communicating with. Before conversing, spend some time thinking about what outcomes they might be hoping for, how they might perceive what you have to say, and how they generally prefer to communicate. Try vividly imagining the conversation from the other person's point of view. How might your boss perceive your resignation? How might your partner take the news that you'd like to spend some time apart? What would it be like to be the friend with whom you've had a disagreement that you're trying resolve? Considering how the other person might feel and what s/he might experience is important for having a meaningful interaction. Just as important is considering how this person prefers to communicate. For the most part, big important conversations should happen in person, but that's not always possible, so consider the best method of communication -- not only for you, but for the other party as well. And, last but not least, take into account how this conversation will impact your relationship, not just from your perspective, but from theirs as well. 

 

PONDER THE POSITIVE POSSIBILITIES

Going into an important conversation, it's useful to ponder what would happen if the best possible outcome occurred. What is the absolute best-case, most amazing scenario? What other positive possibilities might you not be considering? (For example, what if you boss isn't able to give you a raise, but is able to offer you a different position that you know will be more enjoyable?) Before you talk, try thinking outside the box and imagine the craziest (best!) possible scenarios. For example, if you're asking for a raise, imagine being offered not only the amount you're asking for, but also a better title and a corner office. Consider how these best-case scenarios would play out. What are the upsides and the downsides of getting exactly what you ask for? What if, for example, you ask your boyfriend to spend more time with you and he suggests moving in together? How would you handle a scenario in which you're given way more than what you asked for? Pondering the positive possibilities will help you feel more prepared as you go into the conversation and may help you identify aspects of the situation you might not have considered. 

 

TAKE NOTE OF WORST-CASE SCENARIOS

On the flip side, it's also important to consider worst-case scenarios. Overthinking what could go wrong or worrying about the future isn't very useful when it comes to living a positively present life, but there's something to be said for considering a worst-case scenario and investigating how you might overcome it if it were to happen. When you imagine what could go wrong, you're likely to come up with solutions and you'll realize that, even if the worst thing were to happen, you'd be okay. If, for example, you were fired for asking for a raise (unlikely to happen, but just consider it), you'd most likely find another job and probably be thankful you were no longer working for a company that fires employees for asking for better compensation! It's important not to dwell on worst-case outcomes (or best-case either), but allowing yourself to consider them will help remove some of the fear you're feeling. Once you've considered what could go wrong (and how you'd cope), you'll feel braver when beginning your conversation. Also, keep in mind some of my favorite lyrics from "Out of the Woods": the monsters turned out to be just trees. Sometimes the worst thing is in your mind and the reality isn't all that scary. 

 

CHOOSE A GOOD TIME TO TALK

There's never a perfect time to have a challenging conversation, but there are some really bad times to have a tough talk. Some examples: when you've had no sleep the night before; when you're really hangry; when you're super stressed -- or when the other person is any of these. First, identify when an ideal time to talk would be for you. If you could choose any situation / time / place, what would it be? Are more articulate and alert in the mornings? Or do you define yourself as a night owl? Would you rather talk in private or in pubic? Do you communicate best right after you've eaten a good meal or had your first cup of coffee? You can't always conduct the conversation exactly when you want to, but you can try to do it at the best possible time and in the best possible conditions. After identifying what would be best for you, consider what would be the best time to talk with someone else. Is there a time when your boss seems more relaxed? Does your partner seem more at ease on the weekends? You're much more likely to get the results you'd like if you conduct the conversation when the other person is in a positive mindset. Not sure when the best time is for someone else? Ask!

 

BE BRAVE + GO FOR IT! 

This is, of course, the most important piece of advice: just do it. The longer you wait, the harder it gets (believe me, I know this first hand!) and the more it seems like a bigger and bigger deal in your mind. If you keep waiting to speak your mind, what once seemed like something you should bring up turns into a big, huge, scary conversation that you'll be dreading on a regular basis. Don't let this happen to you. Find a time that feels right (even if it's not perfect) and start talking. You don't even have to come to a conclusion right away -- just get the dialogue flowing and let the other person know where you're coming from. People can't read your mind and they might have no idea what you want if you don't tell them! I know it's hard and I know it's scary, but if you don't initiate it, it might never happen and you'll always be filled with the unpleasant "what if..." sensation. So go on -- set a date, schedule a meeting, make the call -- do whatever you have to do to start talking. 

 

BONUS! 
LISTEN VERY CAREFULLY. 

Here's an additional piece of advice: once you've bravely initiated the conversation (yay, you!), it's so important to listen closely. I cannot stress this enough: listen. If you've prepared a lot for the conversation, it's tempting to focus on what you have to say and what you want the outcome to be, but try your absolute hardest to listen carefully to what the other person is saying. The best way to have a productive conversation of any kind is to be a good listener and respond to what someone else is actually saying. As you probably know, it can be difficult sometimes to accurately interpret others' words, and nothing screws up an important conversation more than assumptions and miscommunications. These can be minimized if you listen fully to what others are saying -- not what you want them to say, not what you think they might say, not to how you read into the words they're saying. Listen to the actual words being spoken and, if you're not sure about the meaning, don't guess. Ask! 

 

 

 

Loving-Your-Self

Having the courage to have tough conversations is an act of self-love. Want to empower yourself with some more serious self-love and acceptance? Start loving yourself (or increase the love you already have for yourself!) with the inspiration and motivation found in Loving Your Self: An Empowering Workbook for Increasing Self-LoveFilled with uplifting encouragement, thought-provoking questions, and engaging exercises, Loving Your Self is an essential tool for mastering the art of self-love. Learn more about the workbook here and purchase your own copy here.