Seven Habits to Practice Daily to Improve Your Mood
Rev. Dr. Kitty Boitnott, NBCT, RScP
Heart-Centered Career Transition and Job Search Coach | Life Strategies and Stress Management Coaching
Has your confinement at home started to get to you yet? If not, at some point, I suspect it might.
Cabin fever can start to get to even the best-natured person after a while. And when you can't go out to divert yourself from what is going on, the adverse effects of social isolation can start to take a toll even if you are "isolated" with your immediate family members as opposed to being isolated and alone.
Cabin fever symptoms and coping skills can be found by clicking here
Like it or not, you may be asked to stay home for a little while longer, so I would like to suggest you try to make the best of it. Perhaps now is an excellent time to work on some daily habits that will help you improve your mood while you are cooped up.
Taking care of yourself isn't just about taking care of your physical self, after all. It may be important to you that you look good. And certainly, eating well and exercising are essential activities, especially now.
But more than your outer physical appearance and health, you need to pay attention to what's going on inside your head.
What are you telling yourself about this situation? Are you caught up in fear? Are you feeling anxious?
And are you taking it out on the people you live with by being moody and irritable?
I get it. It's hard right now. I don't recall a time in my life--and I am getting on up there as far as life experience goes--when there was this much uncertainty about what the future might hold. I have personally lived through multiple recessions, for example. They weren't fun, but I made it through them. And I was never fearful of my physical safety and health during those times.
This situation is absolutely unique.
We are experiencing the double whammy of a deadly virus that is as contagious as anything public health officials have ever seen. And it has had a catastrophic effect on the economy because we have had to shut everything down to help save lives and keep people out of the hospital. I remember when I first heard the caution that we should not overwhelm our health care workers. That's when I understood the importance of staying home.
And to be honest, for many of us, staying at home is not that hard. I have enjoyed working from home since 2013. But when you are told you can't go anywhere whether you want to or not, that puts a new dimension on it. What is it about human nature that we want to do the very thing we are told we shouldn't do?
Do we ever grow out of that, I wonder?
Everyone is dealing with this situation differently. And, frankly, some are coping better than others.
As time marches on, however, and the weather starts to get warm and beckoning, we are all going to feel like we are going a little stir crazy.
And we may start to get on each other's nerves if we live with other people.
That's why I think these seven habits might be helpful in the days and weeks to come.
Making these habits a part of your life can help boost your mood and make you easier to live with (including living with yourself).
1) Get Moving
Make exercise a part of your daily routine.
Physical activity helps you emotionally as well as physically. While you have nowhere else to be--or at least nowhere to go--you can take a good brisk walk around the neighborhood. Make doing that a new part of your new routine for now.
You should consider taking a walk--or two--a daily habit anyway.
Start with walking at a slow pace if you haven't been physically active until now. As you build your endurance, you can take the pace of your walking up a notch.
Maybe you can even work up to working out a little more vigorously using one of the many apps that you can find on your phone or TV.
The main thing is to get off your butt and move.
You'll develop a better outlook, and you will feel better about yourself. No one enjoys feeling like a slug.
So, make an effort. And while you see the benefits in your waistline, notice your mood improving, too.
2) Get the Seep You Need
We all need to give our brains time to rest, especially now. So get the rest you need each night.
Sleeping enough hours to be fully rested each day enables your immune system to function at its peak, too.
In addition, people are more alert and in a better mood when they have had the right amount of sleep and rest.
If getting to sleep is causing you trouble, try drinking a glass of warm milk at bedtime. Or check with your physician to see if taking melatonin is safe for you to try.
If you wake up in the middle of the night and have trouble getting back to sleep, try a soothing meditation or sleep music that you can play on your phone.
3) Start Journaling
Using a journal to unload your thoughts and emotions can help. Journaling can help you process how you are experiencing this situation.
It has the benefit of getting your thoughts out of your head and onto paper.
Are you having a bad day? Write it out. Are you feeling thankful today? Write out the reasons why you feel grateful for it.
Keeping a gratitude journal has proved to be an effective way to stay happy. It helps you to keep a positive disposition every day.
Perhaps it would help to write about how you are dealing with your feelings during this time so your children and grandchildren can read about your experience later. They will be curious about what it was like during this time. You could help them understand from your point of view.
4) Eat a Healthy Breakfast
There is a reason they say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. You need to eat a proper breakfast in the morning to fuel your body and mind for the day.
Skipping breakfast can play havoc with your blood sugar levels. Therefore, it can play havoc with your mood. People who are cranky and irritable are often hungry or are experiencing low blood sugar levels.
Consult with your doctor about the best foods for you to eat for breakfast. This is especially important if you are diabetic or have an adrenal fatigue issue. But regardless, you need to eat a healthy breakfast in the morning. For most of us, that would mean some sort of protein with fruit or toast. Avoid fruit juice and eat the whole fruit instead.
5) Use Social Media Less While Still Staying in Touch with Family and Friends Virtually
I like Facebook and Twitter and Instagram, along with all the other platforms, but let's be real about them. Sometimes, all they do is offer a cesspool of negativity. If you have a lot of whiny friends who are bringing you down with their negativity, you can choose to snooze them for a while. I have done that, and I am glad I did. I don't need their negative energy in my life, and you don't need it either.
Now, of course, you can find some wonderful uplifting messages there, too. And who doesn't love all the puppy and kitten pics?
But don't let yourself get sucked into the negative vortex that is only all too ready to take you hostage.
We have all learned to find ways to stay connected with family and friends by now, I hope. I have hosted a virtual birthday lunch and a virtual Easter get-together with family. I have hosted two virtual Happy Hours with some close friends. And I have attended seven Toastmasters meetings so far.
The point is you can and should stay connected with family and friends right now. I know it's not the same.
I don't think I will ever take another hug for granted.
But we have to do what we have to do right now to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe, healthy, and well.
6) Go Outside!
Being with nature is an immense luxury that not everyone can get access to. If you live in a big, crowded city, you may not have access to a park where you can walk safely and still keep your social distance.
But going outdoors and taking a refreshing walk goes a long way toward revitalizing you mentally.
And it can boost your mood instantly.
Appreciate the blueness of the sky or the texture of the clouds. Feel the sun's kiss on your cheeks. Listen to the sounds of nature as you take a leisurely stroll or sit on a blanket and enjoy the sights and sounds of nature. When I was a kid, I lived on a farm near a small creek. One of my favorite summer activities was to find a shady spot near the water and listen to the sounds of the water moving at a steady pace in its bed. Other days, I would lie in the grass and look at the clouds imagining them as different animal shapes.
Getting out in nature may help you get in touch with your inner kid again. That might be a good thing!
7) Use Time Management Skills
It sounds so basic, I know. But with so many distractions in front of us, more and more of us are wasting more and more time on the wrong things.
This can either be due to not being organized or feeling overwhelmed with trying to do too many things all at once.
Remember, though. We always have a choice in every moment about how we use that moment. We can make the most of it, or we can squander it.
If you feel guilty about misusing your time on a consistent basis, maybe it's time to look into your time management skills. You are the only one who can manage the time you have, after all.
Just remember. This situation will pass sooner or later. We can gripe about it and make ourselves and everyone around us miserable, or we can choose to accept it as graciously as possible. Working on having a good mood and tolerating the situation with as much good humor as you can manage will help everyone, including you.
Until next time.
In case you didn't hear, I have decided to offer an encore presentation of the webinar workshop I offered last weekend!
This is the workshop that asks, "Do You Want to Go Back to Your Job When Things Get Back to 'Normal'?"
During this time that you are not engaged in your normal activities, you have had an opportunity to reflect on lots of things, including what you want to do with your life and your career.
Do you really want to go back to your old job when you are [finally] allowed to?
Will your job even be there when this is over?
And if you don't want to go back to your old job, do you know what you would want to do instead?
Do you know where and how to start a job search?
Do you know how to set yourself apart from all the other people who may be job hunting in the next few months?
I can help you with that if you don't.
But to start, why not attend the webinar workshop to see what I have to say there.
It will be on Saturday afternoon again, April 25, 2020, at 1:00 PM EST.
Register using this link: https://event.webinarjam.com/register/6/ow284up
I hope to see you there.