For many, symptoms of depression, anxiety and deep insecurity can interrupt anything from a pleasant dinner to your entire work day or a complete season of your life. Having battled depression and anxiety, I know how hard it can be to climb out and maintain a positive mood. Sometimes it moves in, just as a storm would, slowly or all of the sudden, raining all over your goals, hopes, and image of yourself. The practice I preach to you is not new, but one that has certainly facilitated positive growth when the clouds roll in.
When you choose happy you...
1. Take ownership of your emotional climate
This is NOT easy. When you're feeling like a big nasty rain cloud, it can be incredibly difficult to feel like you can make your way back to happy. When I say "choose happy" that doesn't mean flip a switch in your head that takes you from rain cloud to sunshine and rainbows. Instead, take mindful steps to move towards a better mindset and spirit. For me, that comes in the form of gratitude. I take a few deep breaths and think about all that I have to be grateful for. Having a hard time thinking of something? Get really really small... Do you have running water? Shoes on your feet? There you go!
2. Display strength
Taking these mindful steps takes mental, emotional and spiritual strength. Trust me. It is so much easier to lull around in our own sorrows, eat some ice cream, watch marathons of all of your favorite shows and repeat. Choosing happy means summoning whatever "umph" you have left and putting it towards something positive. In your moments of pain, finding a way to see good, and in your moments of doubt, determining that there is something to be hopeful for. If you have ever experienced despair before, you know this is no easy feat.
3. Create a habit that will sustain you through the seasons of life
I have learned over time that nothing is constant. You will go through high times where you feel invigorated, empowered and untouchable. You will go through plateaus where, eh it could be worse and you're not complaining. And there will be hard times; tough, sucky, stupid, everything hurts, times. Practicing the art of "choose happy", whatever form that takes for you, will ultimately become a habit and the next time the clouds roll in, after a good cry, you'll be ready to start pushing them back out. The challenges themselves may not become any easier to feel, but the way you react and handle each bout of adversity will. As you build your tool belt of go-tos when tough times hit, you will find that discarding the negative feelings will come quicker each time.
Some of the tools in my choose happy belt...
- Think of the reasons I have to be grateful
- Choose an uplifting playlist
- Listen to a sermon (I like Rick Warren's Daily Devotional)
- Read or listen to a book
- Spend time with my dog