Happiness Tips and Tricks

 

Life is hard.

 

I know, I know…that sounds negative and depressing and I should try to be more positive because life is a gift and positive thinking creates a positive existence and – blah, blah, blah…

 

I get it but, let’s be real – life is f*cking hard sometimes.

 

 

And for me, that ‘sometimes’ happens to be right now.

 

Why, you ask?

 

GOOD QUESTION.  I’ve been wondering the same damn thing.

 

I really have no idea why I’m feeling so…blah right now.

 

 

And the fact that I can’t really pinpoint the cause or find anything to blame this shitty feeling on is driving me NUTS!

 

When my Mom died, life felt hard.

 

(Okay, hard is a pretty big understatement…but, you get what I mean.)

 

When my ex-husband filed for divorce, months after my Mom died, life felt really hard.

 

But – at least I knew why I was having such a hard time.

 

There were obvious reasons for my overall feeling of unhappiness and blah-ness.

 

I mean, losing a parent or getting a divorce are probably two of the hardest life events that any of us ever have to go through.

 

Or so I’ve been told.

 

(And I realllly hope it’s true because that means that I’ve already made it through two of life’s hardest moments – can we say, silver lining??! Ha.).

 

Anyways…I survived those shitty life moments – maybe not very well or with a terrible amount of grace buuuuut I made it through and am still standing, still here, still living.

 

 

So, after getting through the past year of pure hell, an overall feeling of ‘blah’ may seem like a fairly minor thing.

 

And I guess it is…

 

…but not being able to figure out where this feeling is coming from is maddening!!!

 

I swear, maybe two weeks ago I was telling my best friend, “I feel good!  Life is drama-free, simple, maybe a little boring – but good!  I’m content!”

 

And then one day I just woke up and felt meh, and then meh became ugghhhh, and now…well, now I’m lingering between ugghhh and UGHHHHHHHH.

 

But WHYYYYY?

 

 

Obviously, I’ve already run through the usual suspects of possible causes…

 

  • WeightI’m unhappy with my weight and frustrated with trying to get in better shape.
  • Money – I’m ALWAYS worried about money and playing a neverending game of catch up with my bills.
  • My Writing Career – it’s going okay I guess, buuuut I don’t necessarily feel as though I’m thriving – which leaves me questioning my decision to leave teaching.
  • Family – My sister suddenly cut off all contact with me about a month ago, no reason or explanation…and not knowing why is killing me!
  • Mom – I miss my Mom.

 

I guess it could be any of these life-complaints that are getting me down…

 

…but I really don’t think any of these are to blame!

 

The struggle with my weight has pretty much been a ‘thing’ since I left the womb 😑.

 

And money comes and goes – I’m not rich but I’m not homeless and (hopefully) I don’t see that changing anytime soon.

 

The job thing…maybe?

 

But there are so many things that I love about working from home and pursuing my writing career that I think they outweigh my doubts.

 

Plus, I can always return to teaching if I want to.

 

And the family stuff…well, isn’t there always family stuff?  I have to believe it will work itself out in good time…

 

 

So, if none of the usual life ‘stuff’ is to blame…what the F has me in this funk?!?

 

(I know you can’t answer that for me but I realllllllly wish you could!!)

 

BUUUUT, at this point, I’ve decided that my time is better spent trying to get out of this funk rather than dwelling on the cause.

 

Now, usually, I would blow off this ongoing mood with a bottle of wine (or 2, I mean, who am I kidding) and a good phone convo with my best friend…

 

…but since I’m currently not drinking (allow the momentary sobbing to ensue), I’ve had to come up with some other solutions.

 

Plus, at this point in my life, I actually want to try and improve myself rather than just masking my emotions with wine.

 

(Trust me, I’m as shocked as you are!)

 

So, I made a list.

 

Because obviously, every problem is made 1000x more manageable with a nice, long list (thank you OCD).

 

 

Anyways…I thought I would share my list with all of you because…well, as we’ve established, life is hard sometimes…

 

…and maybe you’re experiencing that ‘sometimes’ right now just like I am.

 

Plus, sharing all my internal angst kind of encourages me to try and get happy again rather than just complaining about it.

 

After all, who wants to read an entire post solely about how shitty I feel right now??

 

(crickets)

 

However…writing an entire post about how shitty I’m feeling PLUS all the purposeful ways that I’m trying to feel better might actually be helpful!

 

 

So, thank you, my lovely and loyal readers (all 3 of you 😂) for allowing me to work through this blah life moment with you.

 

Preface:

Alright, so let me preface this by saying that my blah-ness hasn’t totally dissipated yet…and I’m certainly no expert on happiness (duh)…

 

…but as of the last week or so, I’ve been experimenting with the following ideas hoping that they will help me get my mojo back.

 

And so far, a lot of them are working! (ish)

 

Oh – and just in case you were wondering…no, it’s not ‘that’ time of the month (you probably weren’t wondering but…just in case😂).

 

Quite honestly, I wish it was that time of the month because that would offer a nice, simple explanation for this BLAHHHH-ness.

 

But nothing is ever that easy, is it?

 

(Crazy that I’m actually wishing for PMS right now 😂 never thought that day would ever come!)

 

How I’m Getting My ‘Happy’ Back

More B Vitamins

 

“Vitamin B-12 and other B vitamins play a role in producing brain chemicals that affect mood and other brain functions.”

 

Considering that the year after my Mom died I survived largely on a diet of wine and cheese, this advice may seem a bit hypocritical…

 

…but, I cannot deny the fact that when I’m more diligent about taking certain vitamins and supplements, in addition to eating healthy (oookay, healthy-ISH)…I feel better.

 

I realize that this is kind of a DUH statement but I felt the need to say it because…

 

…even though I know it, when I’m feeling crappy, my go-to is to eat like crap.

 

And yes, I’m aware that that means that I tend to eat my feelings.  Generally with cheese.  Or chocolate. Or wine.  Or all three.

 

 

But not this time.

 

This past week, I’ve been making an effort to up my intake of B vitamins (I do the gummies since I HATE the way those huge vitamin pills smell)…

 

…and I’ve been adding a little extra MCT Oil and Green Superfood to my morning smoothie for good measure.

 

In addition to the vitamins and supplements, I’ve been sticking to my keto diet and ignoring my insane cravings for chocolate cake and nachos.

 

This whole vitamin/supplement and healthy eating and nutrients thing is by no means a miracle fix…but I have to believe that putting more good into my body will eventually impact how I feel mentally and emotionally.

 

It certainly can’t hurt, right?

 

Plus, science shows a direct link between what we eat and how we feel emotionally:

 

“Researchers have studied the association between foods and the brain and identified 10 nutrients that can combat depression and boost mood: calcium, chromium, folate, iron, magnesium, omega-3 fatty acids, Vitamin B6, Vitamin B12, Vitamin D, and zinc.”

 

I know this is not quite as fun as drowning your emotions in a vat of wine but…think big picture here.

 

And I’ll be honest, so far, I do feel more clear-headed and less emotionally jumbled…and I don’t have that junk food binge guilt.

 

So, (for now) I’m sticking with it.

 

Epsom Bath

 

“Taking a detox bath, not only boosts our health and well-being, but it also strengthens our immune system and prevents disease.

 

 

Soaking in an Epsom salt bath is known to relieve pain and ease muscle aches – but it can also help to remove toxins from your body.

 

Which can have an impact on your mood.

 

Again, this is another one that…eh, I don’t necessarily have personal experience or proof that it directly improves mood per say…but I can say that it just feels good.

 

And, scientifically speaking, there is proof that it helps to improve overall health:

 

“Functional medicine expert, Dr. Mark Hyman, puts it this way, ‘problems with detoxification is one root of illness. If you feel lousy, it’s likely you’re toxic.'”

 

While I’m soaking in the bath, I try to imagine all the toxins and crappy emotional baggage magically evaporating from my body.  I literally close my eyes and visualize it.

 

 

I also avoid music and any other distractions and soak in silence…I know some people find light music to be relaxing when taking a bath but think about it – how often do you sit in total silence, no TV, no phone…just you and your thoughts?

 

Probably not that often – if ever.

 

And I get it, that deafening silence can be scary as hell.

 

But it can also be totally invigorating.

 

Just try it.

 

When you force yourself to sit in silence with no distractions, a lot of good can happen emotionally that you might not expect.

 

Not to mention all the gunk that the Epsom salts are slowly eliminating from your body!

 

I’ve started doing these baths 2x a week and definitely feel an overall sense of ‘ahhhhhhh’ after each one.

 

Sunshine

 

“A mood boost isn’t the only reason to get increased amounts of sunlight. There are a number of health benefits associated with catching a moderate amount of rays.”

 

 

Now, I know you’ve probably also heard this one before – but unless you’re a park ranger or a lifeguard, you’re probably not getting enough sunshine in your life.

 

(And no, that’s not a metaphor for joy or happiness, I mean actual rays from the sun.)

 

When I was teaching, I was indoors for 8+ hours a day with a 15-minute break for recess (which I generally spent hovered in whatever shade I could find to avoid sweating or being hit with a soccer ball).

 

Meaning, I definitely was NOT getting enough sunlight.

 

So, you would think that now that I’m working from home, I’d spend a lot more time outside…but sadly, I don’t.

 

I always seem to get wrapped up in whatever writing I’m doing and before I know it, the sun is setting.

 

Some days, I legit feel like a hermit / vampire!

 

 

So, this past week I’ve been setting a timer that goes off 3 times a day reminding me to go outside and either walk or just sit in the sun for ten minutes.

 

At first, I felt like a real idiot sitting in the grassy area near the parking lot of my apartment – just…sitting there.

 

But by the third day, I started to look forward to my little sun session!

 

I even started bringing a towel so that I could lay down and watch the clouds.

 

Amazing how relaxing something so simple can be.

 

Plus, science tells us that rays from the sun help with the following (among other things):

  • boost levels of serotonin
  • reduce heart disease and diabetes risks by increasing Vitamin D
  • help relieve muscle aches
  • fight Seasonal Affective Disorder
  • give you more energy

 

Now, I can’t say that I notice any huge difference in my mood since I started getting more sun…but I do definitely notice feeling a bit more energetic after each daily sun session.

 

And yes, I wear sunscreen – obviously, the benefits that come from getting more sunshine would be pointless if you end up with skin cancer!

 

I know it can seem hard to find the time in your daily life to go sunbathe for a few minutes but try to squeeze it in wherever you can – lunch break, wake up ten minutes earlier, take a stroll after work before heading home.

 

You can even combine it with a little workout – do squats or lunges during your sun session!

 

It’s a totally free and easy way to boost your health and your mood.

 

Plus, we all look a little sexier with a sun-kissed glow!

 

Nature

“A brief walk in nature could be all it takes to chase away those negative thoughts.”

 

If you hate nature, then this one might be lost on you – but maybe now is the perfect time to revisit the great outdoors!

 

Personally, I LOVE spending time in nature.

 

But with the hustle and bustle of daily life, I always seem to forget just how much I love the woods and being alone in nature until I make time to enjoy it.

 

There is something incredibly refreshing and fulfilling about simply strolling through a quiet forest (or field or desert – depending on where you live).

 

Here in Georgia, the woods and forests are magnificent – literally awe-inspiring.

 

 

And I’m lucky enough to be able to walk out my back door and meander through the woods that fill the space behind my apartment.

 

But ask me how often I do it?

 

Not enough.

 

So, for one of my daily sun sessions, I’ve been walking through the woods.

 

And I genuinely ALWAYS feel better after this walk.

 

Not because of the exercise factor (let’s be honest, how much exercise am I getting by leisurely strolling for ten minutes), but because of…the nature.

 

I really don’t know how else to explain it other than that feeling of being in nature…being away from technology, people, worries, etc.

 

“Scientists are beginning to find evidence that being in nature has a profound impact on our brains and our behavior, helping us to reduce anxiety, brooding, and stress, and increase our attention capacity, creativity, and our ability to connect with other people.”

 

Seeing a squirrel run up a tree, hearing the birds – ugh, I’m rolling my eyes at how ‘rainbows and butterflies’ this all sounds but – its the truth!!

 

When I lived in Flagstaff, I did these walks every single day and –

 

(are you ready for this?)

 

– I used to talk to myself and pretend that I was on a talk show being interviewed about the hugely successful memoir that I had just published.

 

{Let me clarify, I have not even finished my memoir, let alone published it – I would just pretend that I had actually finished my book and would answer pretend questions about it on a pretend talk show.  (I swear, I’m not insane…contrary to how this sounds!)}

 

 

Nowadays, I tend to walk in silence or talk to my Mom…

 

I don’t know what I believe happens after you die, but I like to think that she is part of nature and somehow hears me.

 

Anyways, I digress – all of this is to say that spending more time in nature has proven benefits for your mood – and this is one tip that I genuinely experience the benefits of right away.

 

Exercise – ish

 

“The link between exercise and mood is pretty strong,” Otto says. “Usually within five minutes after moderate exercise you get a mood-enhancement effect.”

 

I’ll keep this one brief because I think we’re all pretty clear on the fact that exercise helps to increase endorphins and boost your mood.

 

I used to exercise alllllll the time – partially to stay in shape and partially because I loved the high – that awesome feeling that I would get after finishing a workout.

 

But lately, I literally have less than no desire to exercise.  Like NONE.

 

But I also have that little nagging voice in my head reminding me that I will definitely feel better if I just push myself to workout.

 

Stupid annoying voice.

 

Soooo….I’m trying to find ways to get those endorphins flowing without having to set foot in the gym or feel like I’m exercising.

 

Like last night – I took a night bike ride to a nearby neighborhood to check out all the Halloween decorations.

 

And you know what?  Even though I legit had to FORCE myself to get my bike out and go – I felt a zillion times better during and after that bike ride.

 

I probably felt the best that I had in days.

 

 

So, as cliche as this advice may be, there is no denying that moving your body can seriously improve your mindset.

 

Sometimes, you just have to get creative with how you do it!

 

I actually wrote out a list of all the beneficial effects of exercise and hung it on my mirror as a visual reminder:

  • reduce stress
  • alleviate depression
  • boost self-confidence
  • prevent cognitive decline
  • alleviate anxiety
  • sharpen memory
  • boost brainpower
  • control addiction
  • increase productivity
  • BOOST MOOD

 

The list goes on and on…now if I could only bottle that feeling that I had after my bike ride to use as inspiration to get my butt moving more often!

 

Anyways, I’m tryyying to add a bit more exercise to my daily life (sigh)…but I’ll be honest, this is probably one of the hardest things on this list for me.

 

Get Pretty

 

“Put on some lipstick and pull yourself together.” – Elizabeth Taylor

 

One of the perks of working from home is that I pretty much never have to put on ‘real’ clothes, wear makeup, or do my hair.

 

Most days, I never even really look in the mirror.

 

Which in some ways, is amazingly freeing.

 

But the other day, when I was feeling especially blah, I happened to catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror….and, well….

 

 

…it wasn’t pretty.  I looked exactly the same way that I felt – BLAH.

 

So, I decided to shower, do my hair, put on some makeup, and put on pants that actually had a button and a zipper – i.e. not yoga pants.

 

There was no particular reason, I wasn’t going anywhere or planning to see anyone – I think that I just needed to feel like a normal person for once.

 

And I can’t explain it, but…after making myself presentable, I felt energized.

 

I felt confident and ready to tackle the day – even if I would be tackling it from my home office + couch.

 

Improving my outer appearance legitimately improved my inner mental state.  Temporarily at least.

 

And while I know that this is kind of a superficial tip, and appearances certainly aren’t everything – sometimes forcing yourself to look better than you actually feel can result in feeling better!

 

So, try it the next time you are feeling completely blah – get dressed, throw on some lipstick, and make yourself appear as if you’re ready to conquer the world – your feelings may just follow suit.

 

Ask, Believe, Recieve

 

“The daily practice of visualizing your dreams as already complete can rapidly accelerate your achievement of those dreams, goals, and ambitions.”

 

Okay, this one may be a little ‘foofie’ for some of you…

 

What I mean by that is – if you don’t put any stock in the whole universe playing a part in our daily lives or visualization philosophy, then this tip may sound like a bunch of bullshit to you.

 

And quite honestly, I’m not 100% sold on visualization or the impact that the universe has on my life either.

 

But I like the idea that if I put something out in the universe or ask for something and truly visualize and believe it, I may increase the chances of it becoming a reality.

 

And even if it is all just a bunch of hocus-pocus, what have I got to lose, right?

 

 

After all, there is some scientific theory that supports the whole visualization idea…

 

“Quantum physicists say that WE CREATE THE UNIVERSE based on our attention and consciousness. As such, it’s not too much of a stretch to realize that whatever we INTEND over time, tends to become reality.”

 

Now, I have no clue if there is any substantial truth behind this but I figured it was worth a try to help get me out of this funk.

 

And while I haven’t become like a visualization guru or anything, I have been trying to include the practice in my daily life.

 

I spend about 5-8 minutes a day – sometimes sitting on the couch, sometimes during my sun session, whenever the mood strikes really – imagining the life that I want and how I want to feel.

 

I picture myself living in a small town with a large yard and lots of animals.  I picture being a published author working on my next book.  I picture myself happy, genuinely happy and successful and content.

 

 

I don’t picture a husband or kids or being filthy rich because…those things really aren’t important to me right now.

 

I just want to genuinely enjoy my life.  I want to laugh and feel happy and content and fulfilled every single day.

 

Okay, maybe not EVERY single day – I’m waaayyyy to cynical to believe that it’s possible to be totally happy every single day.  

 

I’d be satisfied with feeling happy and content the majority of days.

 

I was reading a bit about visualization and came across some advice that really helped:

  • Start by closing your eyes and imagining sitting in a movie theater watching the story of your life on the big screen – or rather, your desired life.
  • Then picture yourself walking up to the screen and actually stepping into the scene and living it.  Picture as much detail as you possibly can…sounds, smells, taste – try to utilize all of your senses.

 

The final piece of this advice article took it a little too far for me – it was to imagine yourself back in the movie theater, grabbing the screen and shrinking it to the size of a cracker…then eating it.

 

Huh?

 

 

I chose to scratch that last part – but the prior advice was really helpful.  It kind of guided me through the process a bit more.

 

If you’re wondering if this is whole visualization thing is legitimately helping me get my ‘happy back’…well, I don’t know.  I’d say it’s inconclusive right now.

 

But if you look up visualization, there is a slew of incredibly convincing research and information backing its supposed power:

“According to research using brain imagery, visualization works because neurons in our brains, those electrically excitable cells that transmit information, interpret imagery as equivalent to a real-life action. When we visualize an act, the brain generates an impulse that tells our neurons to “perform” the movement. This creates a new neural pathway — clusters of cells in our brain that work together to create memories or learned behaviors — that primes our body to act in a way consistent to what we imagined.”

 

Now, let’s be real – I certainly don’t think that I can wish myself happy or visualize my perfect life into existence.

 

But spending a few minutes a day imagining myself and my life exactly how I want is kind of fun…

 

…and if it actually helps get me back to feeling happier and achieving my goals…then I’m all for it!

 

 

Distract Yourself

Image result for distract yourself gif

 

“If we’re going to live a life of growth, meaning and fulfillment we need lots of healthy breaks and rests along the way, especially when things get hard. If we don’t take these breaks, it’s easy to let worry, fear, negativity, doubt and the daily pressures of life take over, almost without us even noticing.”

 

I realize that distracting yourself from stress or emotional crap may sound like an unhealthy coping mechanism…

 

…but if you make a conscious decision to temporarily allow yourself to be distracted from your problems, it can actually be quite healthy!

 

Obviously, it also depends on how you choose to distract yourself.

 

Going on a whiskey and wine bender for a week straight = unhealthy.

 

Taking an afternoon to binge on Netflix, bury yourself in a book, or jam out to your favorite playlist = healthy.

 

For me, certain TV shows or movies totally have the ability to change my mood and put me in a better headspace – at least temporarily.

 

Lately, I’ve been rewatching The Office on Netflix.

 

 

It just puts me in a happy state of mind.  It’s funny, carefree, and generally, it doesn’t stir up any emotional baggage for me.

 

A seriously good book can totally have the same effect…

 

I just re-read Killing Yourself to Live by Chuck Klosterman because it is so damn sarcastically funny and engaging…plus, I feel like I’m on a road trip with my best friend every time that I read it.

 

Related image

 

I see nothing wrong with allowing yourself to detach for a few hours with a good book or Netflix show.

 

Yes, your life and emotions and problems will still be there when you finish the book or the credits roll…

 

…but, you might have gained a little perspective or had a good enough laugh that everything looks a little brighter.

 

Some of my fave Netflix shows to distract myself:

  • The Office (funny)
  • Bloodline (suspense)
  • Ozark (suspense)
  • DeGrassi (I know, I know…feel free to roll your eyes)
  • Master of None (so funny)
  • American Vandal (funny and suspense)
  • The Killing (suspense)
  • Girlboss (empowering!)
  • Santa Clarita Diet (funny and weird)
  • Gilmore Girls (annoyingly guilty pleasure – just feels cozy!)

 

Find Your Inner Child

 

There’s a that the saying ‘child-like wonder’ exists…

 

Kids have the uncanny ability to find joy and happiness in the smallest or silliest things in life (most kids, anyway).

 

But as adults, we tend to lose some of that joy and carefree-ness…we get hardened, grow cynical, and seem to get bogged down with life.

 

And you may be thinking,

“Well, no shit!  I could be carefree if I didn’t have to deal with complicated relationships, bills and financial burdens, or neverending stress from work!”

 

And that’s a fair point…but it’s also exactly why we should make more of an effort to let go of our adult gripes and find joy in truly simple experiences.

 

Now, if you don’t have kids of your own, it can be hard to remember how to act silly and carefree (at least when you’re totally sober, ha)…but with a little effort, it’s possible.

 

This past week I’ve been making an effort to do things that just sound fun (or, at least things that would sound fun to a kid) and that I might not usually do because they seem too…childish.

 

Like my late night bike ride last night…usually I’d have a million excuses as to why not to go bike riding at night – it’s too late, I’m too tired, it’s too dark…

 

But last night I said fuck the usual excuses and went riding into the night.

 

 

I rode through piles of leaves and sprinklers, took pictures of all the Halloween decorations in the neighborhood, and truly felt like I was 12 years old again.

 

And the other day, my apartment complex had a petting zoo in the dog park…and…I actually went.

 

I say actually because I typically avoid all community building activities like the plague.

 

I prefer to keep my neighborly communications to “good morning” or “good day” – and nothing more.

 

But…once again, I said fuck it and dragged my ass to the petting zoo.

 

Image result for petting zoo gif

 

And…it was AWESOME.

 

I honestly don’t think I had smiled that much in ages – the animals were adorable and silly and so fun to play with.

 

The whole experience totally got me out of my head and lifted my spirits.

 

Now, neither of these things were necessarily life-changing experiences but…they were simple and fun and different from my nightly routine of dinner, wine, and Bravo.

 

Point being…sometimes saying yes to things that sound childish or different from your daily norm can really do wonders for your mood.

 

Next on my list of things to do for more child-like fun…TRICK OR TREATING!!  (No, I’m not going alone – that would just be weird! I’m taking one of my

(No, I’m not going alone – that would just be weird! I’m taking one of my friend’s kids!)

 

 

 

That’s A Wrap

Alright, my blog friends…I have rambled on for long enough…

 

I hope you found some of these ideas useful…and I would love to know the ways that you help yourself get and stay happy in the comments below!

 

Stay tuned…I’m planning to do a follow-up post in about a month and see if these daily changes have really helped un-blah me!

Fingers crossed!!

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2 thoughts on “Happiness Tips and Tricks

  • Thank you so much for this post!

    Your past year sounds nearly exactly like mine and it is so difficult to shake yourself out of it. Your list is a great place to start.

    Please know that you are spreading a little happiness to someone that really needed it this morning 🙂
    The Ginger Teacher recently posted…Behaviour from day one!My Profile

    • I can’t thank you enough for commenting… I really put a lot of myself into this post and it is frustrating to see it get so much less traffic than when I post recipes or DIY… I know those are more popular but this post was so much more meaningful to me, so, I thank you so much for your comment!! And, my heart goes out to you because if your year was anything like mine, then I empathize with the struggle that you must have had… please know that you are in my thoughts today and I am hoping that this upcoming year is filled with happiness for you!!! ♥️

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