Thursday, April 5, 2012

Altering your perspective one day at a time

I've been in a funk over the past few days, and with that funk comes the inevitable deluge of negative behaviors: circular and unproductive thinking, laziness / inability to act, general crankiness. I'm not immune to these feelings and have been battling the moments when I concentrate on everything which is wrong instead of everything which is right.

Do you ever have those days? Or weeks? The attitude isn't productive, clearly, yet it's so hard to break out of a funk once you're there. Sometimes it takes a while to even realize the funk is there - sound familiar? I believe whole-heartedly in our abilities to shift perspective and find the good, but the mind absolutely needs to be in a receptive state first.

Last night I mentally sat myself down for a talk. Half the battle means releasing stress and calming the mind, the other half requires discovering the root problem or emotion. Here are the methods I'm using and a little on why they're so important for me:  
  • Breathe: There's a reason why the first thing we're told to do when upset is stop and breathe. Deep breathing helps to calm anxiety, quiets the mind, massages the organs, and helps to eliminate toxins from the body. No wonder I feel better after yoga class! 
  • Clear away the clutter and make a list: Remaining organized allows me to truly relax, as I'm not in danger of forgetting appointments or breaking my promises. Something as simple as a list of weekly tasks and goals provides direction and clarity, plus you can look forward to crossing items off! If you're not in the habit of making lists, give it a try. Next: don't beat yourself up if you don't get to everything on the list - be flexible.
  • Communicate: Recent conversations with co-workers and family have put my thoughts into words and simply the act of voicing them released a weight I'd been carrying. Is there something you're holding on to? Even tiny admissions require bravery and vulnerability - the more you talk, the easier it gets.
  • Get outside: I don't get outside enough during the workweek and my body suffers. We're meant to soak in sun, to move our muscles, and to breathe in fresh air. My closed-up office and space heater don't cut it! Once you're in the office, inertia sets in and makes it hard to get up and move around - ignore this and walk around the block. I always feel refreshed after even 5 minutes outside.
  • Find the root of the problem: What exactly is bothering you? I often find that if I give myself some time before reacting, that the real issue is very different than the surface would suggest. I've saved myself countless fights (and time!) this way.
  • Nourish your body: Whenever I get stressed or upset, one of my impulses is to eat something sugary or end the night with a glass of wine. These choices feel like a treat in the moment, but do nothing to boost my overall feeling of wellbeing for the day. Lately with this new diet, I've been turning to herbal tea, green apples and almond butter, or simply: nothing! If you close your eyes and count slowly to ten, the food craving will pass.  
  • Do yoga: Focus, strength, flexibility. There are days when the last thing I feel like doing is exercising, but remembering my end goals help me get my butt on the mat and I'm always glad I did. Feeling strong in your own body is one of the most liberating, amazing feelings.
  • Get some sleep: Our bodies truly detoxify and repair when at rest. I'm certainly not alone in the fact that I don't get enough sleep. However, the fact that I've been sleeping through the night recently is a true testament to this new diet - changing your diet really does affect everything!  
  • Pat yourself on the back: It's much easier to focus on your flaws than to recognize and appreciate what you've done well. Give yourself a much needed pep talk to remember all of those amazing qualities. Also: think about how far you've come! When I remember what my life was like in November compared to what it's like now, I'm amazed at how much has changed and I give myself a break.
  • Let go: One of yoga's yamas (Aparigraha) states in summary: "Let go of negative emotions, actions, grudges, fears, beliefs." Our physical bodies take a beating when we're holding on to negative emotions. Breathe, breathe, breathe and the rest will follow. :)

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