Logy, low, and listless, at home with the flu, I thought about ways to brighten my day. I realized, that though my drapes were drawn, and my room was dark, the sun outside was shining. I reflected on the ways I normally started each day, including listening to baroque music, meditating, and doing Qigong. So, I opened my drapes, put on my baroque music, and meditated; within an hour, I felt better.
I wasn’t well enough to do too many Qigong poses. But, because Qigong is subtle, I could practice the more gentle ones. After breakfast, I popped back into bed with my trusty journal and a cup of warm, comforting tea, to write about my feelings - making sure to add all that I was grateful for, especially family and friends.
Here are the 11 tips that came from my introverted period:
- When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. Start your day by giving yourself a hug. It sounds silly, but touch is therapeutic, and so important to our sense of well-being. And because your unconscious doesn’t really know who is doing the hugging, you simply benefit from the experience.
- Listen to baroque music. Baroque music and binaural beats are syncopated to your heartbeat. Therefore, they have the effect of calming and soothing your mood and temperament, while giving you many of the benefits of meditation. Further, binaural beats affect mood, and have the capacity to shift states of consciousness and reduce stress.
- Practice meditation and breathing. Meditation throws more blood to the prefrontal cortex, while calming the body and soothing the mind. As a result, your mind is more efficient performing like an orchestra, and processing information in a more effective way. And focused breathing, the first step in meditation, balances and quiets the mind, thereby impacting the stress hormone cortisol. In fact, if you find yourself in an argument, or getting a speeding ticket, focused breathing can help relax you and keep your cortisol levels under control.
- Move your body. Qigong, yoga, dancing, and singing, are wonderful ways to unite the body and mind, as well as move you, psychically, through the energetic blocks within. These movements are also all healing therapies, which improve circulation, stimulate endorphins, and suppress the stress hormone cortisol, which can really wreak havoc with your body and your mind. Dance therapy, in particular, allows the body, in free form, to release and express freely the emotions within. And then, there is the exercise of your choice (running, weight training, aerobics, etc.) which takes the edge off, using up the excess cortisol generated by stress.
- Keep journals. Keep a day journal and a dream journal. One to express and reflect upon your gratitude, goals, deep thoughts, and feelings, and the other, to access your unconscious, through the language of your dreams. Both approaches are the inner work that move you forward, across the continuum of consciousness and individuation. For, to know yourself, and what your unconscious is trying to tell you, helps you live a more vital and healthy life.
- Get a pet. I always recommend, to people of all ages, to get a pet. A pet gives you unconditional love, is always there for you as your ally, and you can tell him anything without the fear of betrayal. Moreover, studies show that pets help children with self-esteem, millennials with a sense of purpose, and extends the life of seniors. Just their presence positively impacts asthma sufferers, lowers cortisol, and releases endorphins.
- Surround yourself with color & go outside. The color red is everyone’s go to color - whether they know it or not. It is the color of your blood, and therefore, infuses the atmosphere with power, and a sense of health and well-being. Yellow is an optimistic color, and I often put on gold or yellow when I am feeling down and out. Color has a huge subliminal impact on your sense of self, and is used successfully by banks, doctors’ offices, and schools to effect emotions - matching the color to the optimism needed, in each of these locations. Color leads me to plants and flowers of all kinds. Hospitals are now recognizing that patients do better when the outside can come in. There are even skylights in the operating theater in the North Hawaii Community Hospital – a very forward thinking hospital in Waimea, Hawaii – that also incorporates music and outside verandas in each patient’s room. And, spas and solariums have always used the sun as a vehicle for mental, as well as physical, healing. Just putting your feet in the grass, helps you to feel grounded, and part of nature. So, instead of caving in, when you feel sad or depressed – step outside, and put your feet on the earth.
- Have a hearty laugh. Laughing raises your antigen levels, almost immediately, and elevates your immunities, your endorphins, while lowering your cortisol. There is a very famous study by Dr. Norman Vincent Peale, which demonstrates the power of laughter, and its impact on health. While I was sick with the flu, several friends sent me jokes, and I read them through, three times each, surrendering to the wonderful feeling of laughter.
- Engage in random acts of kindness. Do something kind for others – it takes you outside of yourself, and reunites you with the divine within. By connecting to others, by extending a hand in empathy and kindness, you remember what it is to be human. And it is that inner smile that warms your heart, when you compassionately and unselfishly help another.
- Act. Aristotle said “to act.” When you take steps to help yourself, deliberately, you gain a sense of control and confidence in your own resource. This allows you to choose how to feel in relation to stressful situations, and it gives you the tools to your override your critical inner dialogue. Often, the negative things that happen to you – a fight, a divorce, the loss of a job, signals the end of something – while informing you that something new is about to emerge, a shift in consciousness. Thus, to step back when a relationship is over, or someone hurts your feelings, and reflect on what it means to you, instead of taking it personally, gives you the time out you need to move forward psychologically, transitioning into what life has to offer, that you have either missed or resisted in the past.
- Rest. It is so important to get enough rest. Children get cranky when they do not sleep enough, and so do adults. Rest also restores your sense of well-being, and allows your REM dream cycles to replenish your brain.
Though these 11 tips can help you move up when you feel down, they are also the steps necessary for reflection and inner work.