Please note: For this post, I am addressing a general sense of temporal sadness and depression felt by every human being at some point or another. I am NOT, however, talking about debilitating, chronic depression, especially that accompanied by thoughts of self-harm or destructive behavior. If you are experiencing depression like the latter, PLEASE seek assistance immediately. Also, reach out to someone you trust and let them know what you’re going through. They will want to help more than you know.
Hack #1: Blast Those Tunes!
Music, in my opinion, is the ultimate emotional experience. Nothing comes even close to inciting an emotional response, whether good or bad, like music. Whatever your preference, music is almost guaranteed to help with elevating any low mood.
Personally, I’m a major metal head who also has a soft spot for instrumental piano and guitar. So, when I’m angry, a good Chevelle scream fest in my kitchen is the perfect medicine for helping me overcome the urge to hit someone (not that I ever would…). On the other hand, when I’m just plain sad and need something comforting to get me through, I love turning on Pandora and playing soft piano solos. There’s just something so warming about a quiet piano piece when I want to cry.
Listening to instrumental tracks by David Gilmour are amazing for these times as well. Gilmour’s ability to make me feel the sounds of his guitar as he plays is awe-inspiring. Here, here, and here are some of my favorites. *swoon!*
Music really is such a gift!
So whatever your preference, the next time you’re dealing with unbearable emotions and need a quick fix to feel better, turn on your favorite music and let the healing begin.
Hack #2: Eat Your Favorite Healthy Meal
Okay, so I’m sure the majority of you reading this have heard the saying that “food is the number one most overdosed drug”, or something along those lines. So, this suggestion may seem a bit counter intuitive, but hear me out.
Yes, when I am having a bad day, it is sooooo tempting to reach for that delicious triple chocolate brownie and a crisp, succulent coke (*drools*); however, thanks to my intermittent fasting lifestyle, I have discovered that I feel A-MAZ-ING after eating a healthy, nutrient-dense snack or meal. So, I had an idea one day when I was struggling with feeling useless and overwhelmed: what if I just ate some celery and one of my mom’s bran muffins instead of my daughter’s Christmas candy?
Well, I put it to the test and, sure enough, I felt noticeably better. I wasn’t mentally craving sugar and junk food any more AND I was comfortably satisfied without the sluggish brick in my stomach. Even better is that I always get a sense of control back when I implement this hack, knowing I was capable of mentally overcoming one of my most primal urges. Since then, I’ve continued with this hack if I need an extra push to get over an emotional pit fall. It’s great!
Hack #3: Get Your Blood Pumping
Exercise. Love it or hate it, we all know that it does the body good. But, it also does the mind GREAT. I don’t know how many times I’ve been out on a run, blasting Alice in Chains in my headphones and suddenly had a massive grin crack my face mid sprint. It’s such an amazing feeling! Call it endorphins or adrenaline or whatever you want, there is no denying that physical activity, especially the kind you love and are willing to do, provides a very nice mental pick-me-up on those not-so-bright days!
For this hack to work, it absolutely does not have to be intense exercise (although, if you’re really mad, the more intense, the better). Just going on a short walk in the sunshine or doing a few dozen jumping jacks while watching tv can be just as effective. If I don’t have time, but I need a little pick-me-up, I jog up and down my stairs ten times and always feel better afterwards.
Just find what works for you and give it a try.
Hack #4: Talk to Your Favorite Person
As an introvert, this beat the blues hack came as a surprise to me. I’m admittedly very awkward in social situations (think slurring my sentences, running out of air, random blushing type awkward) and really don’t do well with maintaining relationships beyond my own family.
But, I remember one day very specifically when I was having a reeeaaalllyyy bad day. Like, it just started as a crap day and nothing was going to make it better. By the end of it, I was basically crawling around pining after bedtime so that this rotten day of hell would be over.
Then, I got a call from one of my sisters. I was seriously so tempted not to answer but I hadn’t talked to her in a long time so I figured I’d better. And, let me tell you, I’m SO glad I did. We talked for over an hour about absolutely nothing, but we laughed and reminisced and made plans and it was all exactly what I needed at the end of such a cruddy day. Honestly, I don’t even think I talked to my sister about having such a bad day. But, I didn’t feel like I needed to, either. I just needed to laugh and focus my energy on something other than the day I’d just endured.
Whether you’re a social butterfly, or a bump on a log (c’est moi!), you have people who love you and care so much about you. Let them in and allow them to help you during the hard times. As the poet John Donne penned so eloquently, “No man is an island” so don’t try to be one.
Hack #5: Find Someone to Serve
Last, but in my opinion absolutely most effective for overcoming a bad day is finding someone who could use your help. I don’t know why this one is so effective, but trust me, it works wonders.
To give an example, my husband and I lived in Pocatello, ID for the first fourish years of our marriage. After having our first baby and becoming a stay-at-home mom, I began to feel more and more secluded in our living situation. My family all lived an hour north and Phil’s job kept him away from home hours at a time (he’s on call 24/7 so we can never plan anything specific). It got to the point that I began to just wallow away my days in front of the TV, missing out on so much of my daughter’s precious first year.
Then, one day, the relief society president in my LDS ward asked me to visit an elderly sister who lived across the street from me at the time. This visit turned out to be the first of countless opportunities to serve in my ward and community. As I began this path of service, I began to notice a significant shift in my focus. Rather than commiserating with myself each and every day about how lonely I was, I would instead get up and head off to help someone move or make dinner for a new mom or take my daughter out in the stroller to go clean up garbage somewhere.
Looking back, this was one of the happiest times during my years living in Pocatello. Just knowing that I had something of value to fill my time pushed me forward and started me in the direction of changing my circumstances rather than allowing them to just happen to me.
I’ve remembered this experience often and try to always volunteer when I am offered an opportunity to help someone, definitely not because of what I’m doing for them, but because I know that one of the blessings of service will be an increased ability to feel joy.
We all live in our own communities and I can guarantee there is a need to be filled in your own. If you’re having a hard time (or even if you’re not!), get up, go out, and look for a need to meet. I promise with all my heart you will not regret the effort.
Hack #6: Give Yourself Time
This last hack really isn’t a hack because it kind of goes against the whole point of this post. However, it must be added. Sometimes, nothing will work to speed up the healing from sadness or bad mood. And it’s not always going to be medically necessary to seek professional help. In these instances, just give yourself time, let yourself feel the sadness and allow the emotions to process and work themselves out. The old adage “Time heals all wounds” is definitely applicable here. Until then, you can utilize these and any other tricks you might know of to help you in that healing process.
Sadness is part of life, yes, but it’s wonderful to know that we are not meant to live a life filled with it. We have been created to experience joy. And this life definitely has so much of it to offer that its important for us to learn how to process the sadness in order to know when we’ve reached the joy.
I’d love to hear from you. If you give any of these tools a try and have success, please comment below or share with me through my email. Or, if you have any tricks of your own that you think I should add to the list, I’d love to hear about them.
As always, thank you for all you do.