Life. Yoga. Joy.
Inspiring a life with smiles...™
Photo credit Samantha Eve Yoga. Copyright 2019.
“If you don't like the weather in New England now, just wait a few minutes.”
It seems like the weather here in Boston can't make up its mind. One minute we have pouring down rain, chilly winds, and clouds so thick you can't see the city skyline, and the next moment I'm lounging at my pool soaking up the sun in the smallest bikini imaginable to get as much Vitamin D as possible. (And to be honest, to minimize tan lines...hey, I'm human.)
The other night I taught a yoga class to my friends and neighbors in my building. As people shuffled in I could feel the low energy.
"This weather is just gross." said one friend.
"I felt so down and trapped in my office," commented another.
After class, a friend mentioned that he too felt just beyond depressed. Especially since he had also been working with terminally ill patients that day.
"How do I lift myself up so that I don't pass along these feelings to people who need me to be my best and most positive self?" he asked me after class.
Such a great question...read on for my tips on raising yourself up when outside factors have got you feeling down.
1. Give yourself permission to feel down...for a moment or two.
Sometimes we spend so much time beating ourselves up for not feeling our best, that we make things even worse! And by doing so, we lose sight of the fact that we ...are...human... There will be moments when life happens, the weather is crappy, or the day didn't go the way we intended. Take three deep breaths, say, "Alright, I'm having a moment." And allow yourself to just feel whatever you are going to feel for a minute or two.
2. Identify why you are feeling this way.
In my classes, I often tell my students that the most important question you can ask yourself is "How am I doing?" And if the answer is "LOUSY. I feel horrible or depressed or angry or worn out" take a moment to identify why.
Perhaps the weather is getting you down. Maybe you didn't get enough sleep or nourishing food. Sometimes you may feel frustrated by whatever circumstances you are dealing with. And occasionally you may be having trouble letting go of whatever bothered you earlier.
But once you have identified the cause of the emotion...
3. TAKE A FEW BREATHS IN AND OUT - ideally through your nose with a big exhale through your mouth.
Often when we are stressed or depressed or angry or hurt, we unconsciously HOLD our breath or begin to breath shallowly - sending ourselves into a state of panic!
So before doing anything else. Stop to BREATH.
If you have the time, stand up and do a few stretches by inhaling the arms overhead, exhaling folding down and then inhaling back up. Try going for a walk, a workout, or simply do some jumping jacks. Movement of all kind has been known to increase the chances of having a positive outlook!
Want to really start to effect change in your mood? After breathing or stretching, go to a mirror or use the selfie feature on your phone and SMILE. Literally make goofy smiling faces into your phone! Science has shown that the contraction of the muscles in your face into a smile sends a signal to the brain to release endorphins - the feel good hormones! So fake it until you make it!
You always have a choice. So make a change.
Once you've identified the root cause of the feeling, make a conscious choice to change the present. If work is getting you down, take a break for a few minutes, go outside if you can, or even commit to looking for something else to do that makes you feel happy.
The weather seeming too gloomy for your taste? Change your perspective on it by dancing in the rain, getting big rainboots to splash through puddles or treating yourself to a big cocoa with marshmellows.
Having trouble letting go of a past issue? Remind yourself that it is DONE. You only have the PRESENT to live in and that issue does not have to continue to cause you suffering, you have control.
Reach out to COMMUNITY.
Repeat after me: "I am NEVER alone in this world."
Often when we feel low, we start to tell ourselves stories:
The other night I was feeling HOMESICK for about 10 different places on this planet where many of my good friends reside. Looking out my window at the gorgeous view of the city I felt SMALL and terribly alone. So I did all the steps above, got on my phone and with the magic of texting, Facetime, WhatsApp, Snapchat, Facebook messenger, and Instagram DM reached out to my tribe around the globe saying "I love you and I miss you. Sending hugs and positive mojo."
Within minutes a flood of messages came back filled with questions about my life, uplifting stories, exclamations of "I miss you too, how did you know I needed to hear this message?" type responses. I spent the next hour catching up with friends that I rarely get to speak with and soon was happily dancing about my flat and going on with my evening.
We all have moments of feeling down. And weather or external forces can affect our mood. But I've learned that we always have a choice of how to respond to these external forces.
So the next time the weather in New England brings you down, look out the window and remember that the rain truly does make the flowers grow....and maybe get out those rainboots and dance in it.
Samantha Eve, a