Smooth seas do not make skillful sailors.
~ African Proverb
We all have bad days. But feeling bad is not productive. It can cause us to attract negative experiences and invite negative people into our lives, and can even make us feel ill. Stressful events cause agitation, anxiety or anger—and this can exacerbate stress! This vicious cycle can continue unless you do something to shake it off.
So what’s the secret to beating the bad day blues? Here are seven ways to turn a bad day good.
Walk it off. Put on your walking shoes and take off. Walk for at least twenty minutes. Walk briskly and with purpose. Focus on the movement of your body and your breathing in order to tune into the moment. Imagine that you are walking away from your stress, leaving it behind you. Choose a mantra for your walk; repeat to yourself, “I attract positive experiences into my life!” Or, “I am happy, healthy and well!” Your mantra can be anything, so long as it is positive (i.e. avoid mantras that begin with “I don’t want” or “I don’t like”).
Sweat it out. Go to a gym or pick up your own weights and give your muscles a workout. Research suggests that when you engage in weight resistance training with weights of 20lbs or more, your body responds by releasing youthful, energizing hormones (such as testosterone and growth hormone). Work out until you sweat—and for at least thirty minutes. Be sure to throw in about ten minutes of cardio to elevate your body core temperature. And push yourself. You’ll feel better and stronger in no time.
Dance the blues away. I do this quite often. If I am in a funk or having a bad day I grab my iPod, turn to a great song and start to move to the beat. There are certain songs that instantly make me want to smile and groove. You can do this in the privacy of your home or your office. Close the door, crank the tunes and just dance! No kidding—it really works.
Have a cuppa. In my book, 52 Ways to a Healthy You, I devote an entire chapter to the benefits of drinking caffeine in moderation. Drinking coffee elevates dopamine levels in your brain. And studies show that regular coffee drinkers have higher tolerance for stress than non-coffee drinkers. Sounds crazy, but it’s true! So the next time you are feeling down, swill a cup of espresso or black coffee. Add skim milk, stevia or agave as desired, but try to forego the high sugar, high fat alternatives. And remember: no more than two cups of coffee per day is recommended.
Pasta baby, pasta! Eating carbohydrates can elevate serotonin levels in the brain. So if you are one of those people who avoid carbs like poison, every now and then you might think about eating a bowl of pasta. Pasta won’t elevate your blood sugar as quickly as bread will, but it provides a nice slow release of glucose into your system. Carb addicts might want to use this trick as a last resort!
Laugh. I am a huge advocate of laughing and smiling. Did you know that when you smile blood flow increases to your brain, literally cooling down those hot-headed moments? And when you laugh, stress hormones are lowered and feel-good hormones are elevated! Do what you can to laugh, smile and make yourself happy. Fake it until you make it, as they say!
Beat Hormone Hell. Sometimes, hormonal fluctuations get the best of us, in spite of our best intentions. If you feel your moods are out of control, be sure to consult with a primary health care provider for treatment. I lean towards alternative health care, so I consult with a doctor of oriental medicine and take the supplements she recommends to keep my mood swings in check. Sometimes just a tweak of the brain biochemistry can make all the difference in the world.