Do you ever get that “blah” feeling? You know that place we as normal humans tend to drift to where we’re just moody, tired, mentally/emotionally drained? You know, those times when the beat of our own drum is off a little? Some may experience this more than others, but it’s those hopefully fleeting moments when nothing seems just right in our worlds that we need to draw particular attention to. It’s important to notice when these feelings arise, or the first signs of our spirits weakening, because if these “small foxes” go unnoticed or untreated, they can easily grow into full on depression. And ain’t nobody got time.
I believe that if we pay enough attention to ourselves, we can notice when our moods are shifting, and catch them before they drift too far into the abyss of long-lasting melancholy. Granted, there are times when our mental and emotional states are simply out of our hands and we need some outside help, but I also think we can attempt to stop that train before it gets there and I want to share one of the things I’ve learned to do that helps.
As I strive to be more intentional about my happiness, I’ve recently started making my very own “happy chart.” Life can get so busy that sometimes doing the things we need to do, keeps us from doing stuff we just like to do. I created an actual chart/spreadsheet with a list of things that I know makes me happy or simply adds to my wellbeing. In this chart, there’s a column for the activity, the date of the last time I engaged in it, and when I’d like to engage again. The items on my list range from coffee shop time- what I consider to be one of my happy places, to gym time (exercise literally releases happy chemicals called endorphins to the brain and knowing that you’re getting finer should make you happy anyway).
Also on my list is meditation time which I try now to do daily. For me this process is faith centered (no pun) and I use this time to not only quiet my mind of all the racing and sometimes not-so-pleasant thoughts, but to refill it with the thoughts I actually want in there- reminding myself who I am and who I want to be. I also have time with friends on the list as I’ve come to realize how much I need it. One of my best girlfriends came to visit for the weekend and I know that I am healthier mentally and emotionally due to her visit! Family time is definitely on my list, as every now and then, that blah feeling is just me getting a little homesick. Sometimes you just need a hug from your mama- straight up. Not ashamed to say that lol. Items on my list also vary dramatically in ‘size’. A trip to my favorite DC donut shop and a trip overseas are on the same list and no one’s gonna check me 'cuz it’s MY happy chart *smiles*.
One thing I've noticed in doing this is that in keeping an eye on this chart, I'm able to schedule things around items I know I need to do for my wellbeing. I'm much less likely to over-schedule myself with all the must-dos when I'm actively incorporating my wanna-dos as well. This chart helps me balance all of that. Make sense? Anyway, those were just a few of the things on my list and I add to it as I identify new things that do my heart, mind, or body well. I recommend creating your own list, if not to check it everyday, to simply keep a mental note of things that keep your heart pumping.
A bonus tactic I use is simply tweaking what I absorb. I understand that everything I take in during this blah period is crucial and could impact how long I remain in that state. If I'm feeling blah at all, one of the first things I do is turn on my personal playlist of music that I know boosts my spirit! Listening to music that speaks to how I want to feel, and doesn't allow me to wallow in how I might currently feel, helps out a lot. So keep a nice lineup of songs that help get you outta your funk!
As important as it is to know what lifts your spirit, it’s equally important to understand what/who drains it. Part of exercising that happy muscle is simply abstaining from stuff that makes us unhappy. This may sound easy but it isn’t always, especially when we’ve developed an affinity for the very thing that attributes to our despondency. It’s very possible and even common to like/love things and people that aren’t good for us. For example, I enjoy social media but I’ve come to recognize when I need breaks from it. Similarly, I’ve had to cut ties with people that chipped away at my peace, whether they intended to or not.
The point of this post is to hopefully convey that we don’t have to let our emotions control us. Just like you can often sense when you’re ‘coming down with a cold’ before it actually hits you, I think we can stop our lethargy in its tracks by giving ourselves a boost of stuff that makes us feel good. But we have to be intentional about it because these things won’t always come on their own or fit into our busy schedules. In as much as you can, take hold of your mental/emotional state. Know that there are things you can do be and stay relatively happy. Protect your peace, yall. Fight for your happiness.