Jennifer Stewart, JAS Potential
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There are many things that impact our lives: our moods, outlook, the news, our relationships, and the stress of daily demands and activities. Sadly, while we do not always have control over the impact, we do have control over how we respond!
Here are a few tips and exercises to help raise your spirits, and keep you on a positive path: 1. Give Thanks!It is simple, yet also extremely powerful. I encourage my clients to get a journal and dedicate it as their Gratitude Journal. Each night before bed, write three things you are grateful for. At times you may struggle to find them, but there are always things to be grateful for – even if you start off with being grateful for having a roof over your head, food in your belly, or being a healthy individual. Eventually you will become grateful for the small things and this is when you will notice that the little things help us understand what really matters in our lives! Gratitude journals keep our perspective focused; it also simplifies things, and it helps us appreciate the people and things we have in our lives.
2. Create “Happy Cards.”
This is a valuable exercise that can change a stressful day around with just a few words. On index cards put inspiring words, phrases, and positive thoughts; aim for 10-15 cards. Then take some time—in a quiet spot—and go through the cards (especially the ones that will make you happy). If you are having difficulty coming up with positive phrases, here are a few to get you started:
- SMILE: You are LOVED, RELIABLE, INTELLIGENT, DEPENDABLE
- You are incredible
- You are beautiful inside and out
This is such a simple yet important thing for us to do. I encourage clients to do the smile exercise every day, because it does become a natural habit. When you wake up in the morning – SMILE; when you leave your home – SMILE; when you are walking down the street – SMILE at those passing by; when you greet your co-workers – SMILE. You get the point. Smiling can release feel good hormones and endorphins, and can instantly improve a mood for not only you but for those who are the recipient of the smile! What’s even better is that smiling improves your mood, and chances are those around you will be positively impacted as well!
This is a big one! My children used to hate it when I got them to stop for a moment and breathe. However, they do this automatically now, because it helps them relax especially when they are feeling anxious or stressed. All you have to do is focus on your breathing. Close your eyes and take a breath; now take a big breath in through your nose, slowly count to four, filling your lungs; hold that breath for another count of four (slow); lastly, exhale slowly through the mouth for a count of eight or until you are completely out of breath. Do this five to 10 times (or more if needed). It’s amazing how calming this is, and for those of you who find it difficult, keep going; just remember that you have to be quiet when you are doing this. I realize being silent can be difficult, but I cannot overstate its importance – you can’t breathe deeply if you are talking.
This is an obvious one; however, are we as active as we should be? It’s a great time to be outside. We are now on the cusp of summer, sun and warmer temperatures - an automatic pick-me-up for most of us, but especially those who suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Find ways to exercise outside, like working in the yard, gardening, or walking. Moreover, think of ways to add extra activity throughout your day; take the stairs, park farther away. There are many simple ways to get exercise, and if you are up for a little challenge, add bursts of cardio in your walks – sprint for 30 seconds every few minutes. For those of you who are really courageous, add burpees or lunges. There are thousands of ways to incorporate exercise into your routine; take some time to determine what you enjoy, what you can commit to, and remember to have fun and include both cardio and strength exercises.
I cannot emphasize enough how amazing meditation is for your mind, body, and soul. Meditation clears our blockages, and makes us more accepting and loving. Furthermore, mediation also helps us find solutions to problems. There are many methods of meditation; however, it doesn’t always come easily, which leads to people throwing in the towel. Quieting the mind does take patience and persistence, so don’t give up! If your mind starts wandering, use a mantra to keep focused, or you can also concentrate on your breathing. Another simple exercise that I love is taking a “five minute vacation.” Close your eyes, visualize a favourite vacation spot, and focus on what you see, hear, and smell. Put a smile on your face and pretend you are there for five to 10 minutes.
Yes, bubbles! I realize this sounds silly, however, I guarantee that you will be happy when blowing bubbles! I have given friends, family, and clients bubbles, and when they used them, they instantly felt more relaxed, so give it a try!
These are just a few ways that can alter your frame of mind and let you focus on the good things in life. Remember, we are 100 per cent responsible for ourselves and our behaviour, and we can either have a positive or a negative impact on those around us: Choose Well!