As the summer starts drawing to its inevitable close, many people find themselves feeling a little glum. And who can blame them? There’s something about warm wind and long, lazy days in the sun that seem to make time slow down. And for a few short months, it seems we all gain the ability to mentally stand still for a moment. We stop fretting over the past, and worrying about the future. We get outside more, we see friends and family more, and there are endless opportunities for pure, unadulterated fun! For a change, we can be light, carefree, and almost entirely in the present. Whatever gets you down here and there, it’s worth noting that everyone feels a little ‘blue’ at times. In moderation and when proportionate, it’s as natural a part of the human condition as almost any other emotion. Slight downturns in mood usually pass within 1 or 2 days, and this reminder in and of itself is often helpful. In those moments where we could use more of a pick me up, here are some tips for a booster shot to your neurotransmitters:
1. Pay someone a compliment. Ever stood in line at a store waiting to pay and notice something interesting about a person standing nearby? Perhaps they are rocking a great pair of shoes, or a fabulous tie. People often notice nice things about other people…but it seldom moves from their heads to their lips. Tell them. You are going to make their day – or least their hour – and you’re going to feel great.
2. Write down three things you are grateful for each day. When doing a grateful list, steer clear of broad categories like Family, Friends, Health, etc. Instead, take it down to a simpler level. Notice the little things in an individual day that you can be grateful for, such as lighter-than-usual traffic, or the free flavour shot you got in your coffee. Taking note of the little positives in life day by day – especially the unexpected – is what adds up to a whole lot of happiness in the longer run.
3. Take a long walk. Any form of exercise is great for getting out of the doldrums, but a long walk is quiet time with yourself with almost no distractions from your emotions. And in consciously ‘hanging out’ with your thoughts and feelings, you can learn to cope with them.
4. Book a ‘date’ with a family member. We often spend time with family as a group, but how often do we initiate individual one-on-one time with them? Call up your brother or sister (if you have one) and if not, call up one of your parents and make plans to have lunch or dinner. Then make plans another time with the other one. I guarantee you will learn new things about the other person that you might not otherwise have known, and your relationship with them will truly be enhanced!
5. Organize your stuff. Mess = Stress! Everyone is at a different place on the “cleanliness” spectrum, but even the organizationally-challenged can benefit from this. Cleaning, clearing, and general de-cluttering have long been revered. There’s a real satisfaction and sense of personal accomplishment that can come from organizing and tidying up a home or busy office space. At a basic level, the more “stuff” there is lying around, cluttering up a room, the more visual stimulation there is. And that means more for our sensory system to take in, process, select from, and discard . Grab your broom!