I’m having a bit of a bummer day today.
If you know me, you probably know that my inclination is toward sunshine, positivity, and being grateful for where I am at all times. A (not insignificant) part of this habit is about how I want people to perceive me, because I’m a damn perfectionist and require approval from everybody. This is not to say that gravitating toward the good is an inherent problem, but putting massive pressure on myself to hold up this wall of positivity for the sake of appearances while feeling icky on the inside doesn’t do anyone any favors. My point is, I’m learning to grant myself some grace.
Emotions are powerful. For me, denying them for too long tends to result in nasty outbursts directed at the people I love the most. But it’s important to remember that our feelings are not who we are. We can recognize and honor our emotions without letting them pull us this way and that like an endlessly changeable tide, guiding our actions and controlling our thoughts. The recognition part is important, because our feelings often carry messages we should be listening to. But detaching ourselves from our emotions, seeing them as temporary and outside ourselves instead of identifying with them, can make it much easier to let go of them when they don’t serve us.
So if today is not a great day, give yourself compassion for feeling the way you do. Recognize your feelings for what they are: not your truest self, but reactions of your mind. Use them as signposts to explore what’s really going on in your heart. And because a bad mood isn’t necessarily banished as simply as that, here are some practical strategies to beat the mild blues when you’re feeling out of whack:
- Go outside. Put your bare feet on the earth, touch a tree, dig in the dirt, sniff a flower, pull some weeds, sit on a boulder, lift your face to the sunlight.
- Hang out with an animal for a dose of pure presence.
- Make yourself a cup of something warm to drink. I suggest chamomile, lemon balm or rose tea, all of which nurture the heart chakra and emotional body and help to lift the spirits.
- Do something creative. It doesn’t have to be good AT ALL; just the act of making is alchemizing and nourishing to the soul.
- Clean up your physical space and light a candle, incense or palo santo. Fire is deeply cleansing, and palo santo in particular can help to purify negative energy (plus, it smells incredible and can be reused many times). Make sure it’s been responsibly and sustainably harvested. Sage has similar effects, but I prefer the scent of palo santo.
- Meditate for 5 minutes. If this intimidates you or you don't know "how" to meditate, just sit comfortably with your eyes softly closed and focus on the movement of breath in and out of your nose. If you notice your mind wandering, try not to get frustrated. Just gently guide your attention back to the breath. For more in-depth techniques, click here.
- Floss and brush your teeth. I don’t know why, but this always feels like a fresh start to me.
- Drink some water! Sometimes snappiness or sluggishness is just dehydration in disguise. For good digestion (which also deeply linked to mood), follow the Ayurvedic practices of hydrating between meals rather than during, and avoiding ice-cold water.
- Move your body. Do a sun salutation, dance to a song you love, or go for a walk in the fresh air.
- Create some good in the world. Volunteer for a cause you care about, use your gifts to serve others, call your Grandma and ask her questions about her incredible life, attend a rally and raise your voice against injustice, tell your best friend exactly why you love them, do something kind for a stranger.
- Scrub your entire body with this simple salt scrub! It helps to cleanse your energy field, exfoliate dead skin cells and keep moisture in the skin. Lavender essential oil calms the nervous system while grapefruit essential oil boosts the spirits. Stand in the tub or shower and scrub while dry, then rinse off, dry off and enjoy feeling silky, glowy and grounded.
SEA SALT SCRUB
3/4 cup fine sea salt
1/4 cup sesame, grapeseed, almond, olive or sunflower oil
optional: 10 drops essential oil of choice (I like a blend of lavender and grapefruit to bust the blues)
Place all ingredients in a small jar and stir well. The mixture should resemble pie crust; a little crumbly, not too oily. Feel free to adjust the amount of oil to your preference, though! This recipe is super flexible.
This amount should last about a week in the shower. Make sure to close the lid nice and tight to avoid too much moisture sneaking in.
All right, dear moonbeams. I'm sending you loads of light and love, whether you're currently sunk in a low mood or abloom with joy. Remember that emotions and circumstances shift, but your true self (and/or however you experience the divine) is steady and eternal.
(I am not a mental health professional, and this post is not meant to be a replacement for counseling or medication in severe cases of emotional imbalance, but a list of tools that I use to feel better when I’m stuck in a bad mood.)