What do you do when your yellow sweater doesn’t work?
A few weeks ago I wrote a blog on some steps and tools you could use to help you with SAD during the dark, cold winter months; when the weather effects your mood and energy levels. One of those tips was to wear bright colors. Studies have shown that brighter colors can actually lift your mood and this works when you wear the colors and can see them in your field of vision.
So, maybe you have been using the tips I suggested. You’ve been sitting in the natural light from your special lamp, you’ve been getting outside for 10 minutes a day, you’ve been wearing brighter colors but you still have bad days. Perhaps you didn’t sleep well one night and that has effected your energy levels the whole day. Maybe it’s been raining for several days straight and it makes you feel down.
Just this morning I wore my yellow sweater deliberately because I knew I was going to need some extra help today. I traveled over the weekend, got back late on Sunday night and so I didn’t get as much sleep as usual and did not have time to do my meal prep for the week. I knew my day would be thrown off from being unorganized and being tired.
But, despite wearing my sweater and getting outside to walk, I have had a trying morning. I had to call a government office, was on hold for 10 minutes and the line got cut off. Because I was on hold for so long I was late getting in to work and it just spirals from there.
There will be days when you use your tools and you still feel angry or tired or sad.
So what do you do when that happens? Here are some additional tools to help you during a bad day when your regular coping mechanisms are not strong enough to help.
- Accept your feelings– accept that feeling angry or tired or sad is okay. Often times we feel worse because we try to resist the “bad” feelings. We don’t like the person we are when we experience them and so we label them bad and try to block them out of our lives. Anger, sadness, anxiety – they are all natural feelings. Everyone experiences them. They are not good or bad. They are just feelings on the spectrum of all of our feelings. There is nothing wrong if you are feeling angry.
- Allow yourself to feel – do not wallow in it and drag it on so it lasts all day but allow yourself to feel whatever it is you feel. If you are mad, BE mad. Yell if you want to, stamp your foot if it feels good, punch a pillow if you need to get some aggression out. Let it out. Feel it and then let it move through you. When you resist and deny how you feel, it lasts much longer than it needs to. An emotion will move through you within 90 seconds. As long as you don’t take it out on another person, you can feel that anger, you can feel that sadness or anxiety and if you just give in and feel it, it will be over in 90 seconds.
- Add some fun things to your ‘To Do’ list– when we feel down it is easy to feel overwhelmed. We think about all that we need to get done and it weighs heavy on our minds. We try to get through our long list of tasks we don’t want to do and then feel badly when we put it off or begrudge every second. A good rule of thumb is to add one thing you WANT to do after every 2 things you think you HAVE to do. For example, maybe you have to go to the bank and you have to mail some letters. After mailing the letters do something you want to do- even if it is a tiny little thing like reading some funny cartoons online or a brief little dance break.
- Be Gentle with yourself– know that you may not accomplish as much as you normally do. Give yourself a mental break. Let yourself sit on the couch and do nothing, or read a fun book, look at a magazine, take a bath. Treat yourself the way you would if you had the flu. Drink some hot tea, pamper yourself with kindness and gentleness. The added advantage is you don’t feel physically ill so you can really enjoy the little treatments you are receiving from yourself.
No matter how well we take care of ourselves and how much work we put into our emotional well being, there are still going to be days that are difficult. We are still going to feel sad, or anxious, or angry and grumpy. Know that those feelings are perfectly natural and allow yourself to be human. Try these additional tools for making yourself better. You are wonderful just as you are.