A short glimpse of the news, a call that a friend is sick, another friend is stressed over a car accident or even a glance at the long list of to-do’s that don’t seem to get done – all are things that trigger the stress response in our brains. If we dwell on these thoughts for even just a few moments, especially if there is nothing we can do to help make them better, we start the flow of “fear chemicals” in our bodies.
Not too soon after that, we don’t feel so good.
As nature would have it, when our bodies think we are in danger parts of our brain shut down so we can be focused on the fleeing or the fighting that might be necessary for survival. Problem is the part of the brain that shuts down is the very part we need to make some new choices and lift ourselves out of the doldrums.
That’s why I suggest you create a “Love List” and keep it handy for the moments when you need to shift your mood from dark to light.
Get a beautiful bound book, or a fun box, jar or other container. Write down (and update often) the things that make you happy, things that calm you, nourish you, ground you, excite you, thrill you and things that build your energy. Write them down in one place, and keep them accessible. When you find yourself in a mood that doesn’t feel so good, put your hand in the jar, or flip the pages in the book and do something nice for yourself.
There are things on my list as diverse as “a cool drink of water”, “a 15 minute walk”, “breathing exercises”, “watch a funny video”,”meditate”, “eat a piece of dark chocolate ..slowly” and “sing out loud”. I like to make sure the things on my list are easily accessible and doable even in the middle of a busy day. There are certain people on my list that I know can help me with a quick “reframe” or just make me laugh.
Each of these things helps me get my mind off of what bothers and if I pay attention to being in the moment with each one, and encourage a feeling of gratitude, helps my brain begin to send the “chemicals of calm.”
I believe it’s important know what inspires you, what enlightens you, what enlivens you, what moves you and to drink from that well often.
When you are feeling down or blue, look at the list of things that produce positive emotions of any kind. Dwell on those emotions. Use the items on your list. If one doesn’t work, move on to another until you find your way back to a more relaxed state.
Be kind to yourself. Do things that make you feel good and increase your capacity for joy and bliss. Each time you do you are helping to build a stronger neural pathway in your brain, making your track to happiness easier each time.
“Too much of a good thing can be wonderful.”
PS – my first Love List became a book “54 Ways to Stay Positive..”