Another mood-lifter

Fran, pre-haircut. I'm smiling, but feeling down.

I’ve told you many ways to lift your mood. Down in the dumps? Put some music on and get moving. Take a walk. Play with the dog. Cook one of your favorite dishes. All those are great ways to improve your mood. Another one? Get a haircut.

I’ve been growing my hair and growing out the color. But it’s been more than five months since my last haircut. My hair is out of control.

True, most of the summer it’s been up in a clip or in a ponytail to keep me cooler, but the bangs are in my eyes and the ends are in pretty bad shape.

So, I’m excited that I’m getting a cut tomorrow. I don’t know what it’ll look like when Jan is done, but it will be better. I’ve been seeing Jan for over 30 years! We’ve grown up together. I’ve seen her kids grow up, seen the joy and heartache. So it will be good to see Jan – masks and all.

Why is getting a haircut such a mood-lifter? I’ll still look pretty much the same. My appearance won’t have improved drastically. My hair will be in better shape, it’s true. But I won’t look that different.

Perhaps it’s just the act of doing something nice for myself. Sure – basic skin care, exercise and eating right are all things that we do for ourselves. But actually going somewhere and having things done for you is that extra layer of pampering.

These days, during the time of COVID-19 social distancing and mask-wearing, we all seem to be sucked into a whirlpool. We don’t know which end is up, what’s right, what’s wrong, what we should do about filling our empty shelves when there are shortages. I know many days I’m feeling lost at sea. So it’s a taste of normalcy to go out and do something that I used to do more regularly. To do something nice for myself, for a change.

Use these lazy days of summer to your advantage

The days may be warm, but you've got things to do

Yup – me too. Dog days of summer perhaps? Especially theses days, we see on the calendar an unending stretch of similar days. Not even the weather changes much. The last few weeks have been hot and humid. Not much precipitation. One after another.

Feel that sense of urgency?

You know you should be doing things. You just know that you’ll be sorry in three months that you let this stretch of days with no appointments, no urgency, no places to be end with nothing to show for it. So use these lazy days of summer to your advantage!

Set a goal!

How to snap out of it? Well, think of what you would like to see accomplished at the end of those three months. That’s a quarter of a year. Would you like to perfect a new dish? In 13 weeks you can prepare that dish at least 6 times without getting bored yawns from the family.

Want to lose weight?

Or would you like to lose 5 pounds? Completely doable. Figure out your eating plan for the next few weeks and exercise schedule. You’ve got it covered.

Would you like to learn how to crochet? You can order a few different size crochet hooks, some yarn and a beginner’s pattern or two, have them arrive and try it out after watching a few YouTube instructional videos a few times during this quarter year.

Want to be a writer? I did too. Now I have a published book.

Or how about writing a story? Completely possible. Write your ideas, organize the plot and start writing. It won’t take long if you devote just a half hour or so a day. For me, writing a non-fiction book about my training journey with my reactive dog Tango was both cathartic and rewarding. And I got it done in about 4 months. Tango: Transforming My Hellhound.

The point: anything is possible

The point is that anything is possible if you set your mind to it. The first step is to set a goal.

Next is to break that goal down into smaller chunks. And smaller. And smaller – until you’ve got about an hour a day of “work.” But it won’t seem like work because it’s something you really want to do, and an hour out of 24 is nothing. Writing your goals down, and then scheduling your tasks on a planner or calendar really help keep you honest.

Do what makes you happy

Do what makes you happy. Put a smile on your face.

At least once a day, do what makes you happy. Do something that will put a smile on your face.

Yes, these are hard times. We’re physically isolated from others, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be happy.

Happiness increases optimism. Optimism increases resilience. Only with resilience will we be able to survive this bleak period in our existence. With resilience we’ll be able to undertake new challenges. We’ll be able to resume pastimes that we can’t enjoy now. We’ll be able to go to restaurants, to movie theaters, to parks, to the mall.

So, how can we embrace happiness? For one thing, turn off the news. Take a break from social media.

Have a virtual conversation with a friend. We all have wonderful devices with built-in ways to make this happen. Even just call a friend on the phone. To hear a friend’s voice can be joyous.

Watch a favorite video. Or, go on a virtual tour of a museum or art gallery. There are plenty of those.

Catch a live stream from a facility that’s closed now. Lots of zoos are offering live streams. There’s a “Donate” button on many, but it’s not mandatory. On the other hand, if you can afford it, those facilities could use your donations. They’re not getting the admission fees or concession sales now that they were used to. A reduced staff has to be there, to care for the animals, but there are no actual visitors.

My favorite is the daily live stream from Dolphin Research Center on Facebook. Every day at noon my time (1 pm Eastern Time), they’ll go live with a session with dolphins or sea lions. It’s guaranteed to put a smile on my face.

Or, as I’ve said before, put on some favorite music and start to dance. There’s no one to watch you, so get crazy. You’ll enjoy the music, get some moves on and be happier.

So, for just a little while every day, do something that makes you happy.

Increase optimism, grow resilience

Yoga helped me regain my balance and increase my optimism today. That will help to grow my resilience.

In these uncertain times, we’re scared, we feel lost. The only way we’re going to get through this is to grow our resilience. One sure way to do that is to increase our optimism.

Most of the country is sheltering in place now, to try to “flatten the curve” of the COVID-19 virus. There’s no cure, it spreads like wildfire, and it’s dangerous to many who catch it.

The economy has come to a standstill, since many businesses are closed. Restaurants and theaters are closed. People aren’t buying anything (except, perhaps toilet paper and hand sanitizer). We’re told to maintain “social distancing” – stay at least 6 feet away from others.

It’s scary and we don’t know when it will end.

But it will end. One day, hopefully soon. And to get beyond this time with anything approaching normalcy, it’s crucial to grow our resilience. To come out stronger and happier.

How do we grow our resilience? One sure-fire way is to increase our optimism. When we’re optimistic, we feel happier and more able to look forward.

So, how do we increase our optimism? One sure-fire way is to exercise. The endorphins that are released help, and the increased oxygen and blood-flow are supporters too. I know, personally, that I always feel better after a workout.

Today I did a Yoga practice. Nothing too strenuous because it had been a while since I did Yoga, and I didn’t want to feel it for days afterward. But it sure felt great today.

Another way to feel happier and more optimistic is to put on some favorite tunes and move. Just get moving. The music and the movement all contribute to feelings of optimism and well-being.

Go for a walk. Pet your dog. Read a good book. Make your favorite meal (not too calorie-laden, though!). You’ll feel better.

And every time you do, you’ll increase your optimism that much more and grow your resilience.

Grow your resilience

The tree pictured has resilience. It is growing off of a ledge. Learn how to grow your resilience with my new ebook.

Fitness is more than eating right and exercise. I believe that fitness is holistic – that is, body and mind. Keep the body healthy, keep the mind healthy and you’ve got fitness nailed. But what happens when you encounter hardships? Can you bounce back? It helps to know how to grow your resilience in cases like this so that you can come back from those hardships better and stronger than ever!

So how can you grow your resilience? Contrary to what some people may think (those who wallow in their misfortune and say, “Woe is me,” or words to that effect) you can actually grow and improve your resilience. It is a skill that can be improved with effort.

Learn from misfortune

It’s important to look at what happened objectively and learn from the experience. Learn from your reaction to the experience. Were you reactive or proactive? Could you have been proactive to get a better outcome?

Choose your reaction

Whatever happens, take a moment and breathe. You don’t have to react immediately. Run through your options in your brain. “If I do {this}, then {that} will happen.” I know – sometimes it’s hard not to react to circumstances right away. But, it’s almost always to your benefit to wait a moment to react. That nanosecond may be just enough time to rethink a reaction that would not be appropriate. (Or to think of a better reaction even if your first inclination was not inappropriate.)

The point is that you almost always have time to think before you react or offer a comment.

Other ways to grow your resilience

There are other ways to grow your resilience. One is to be happier. Optimistic people can almost always bounce back quickly from one of life’s misfortunes. They seem to have the coping skills that are needed.

Want more ways to improve your resilience? Click here or the button on the right and get my new ebook, “How do you bounce back?”

It’s impossible

Balancing everything in your life is impossible. Prioritization and scheduling are key.

It’s impossible to do it all and achieve balance

It’s literally impossible to do it all. You’re trying to balance all aspects of your life, and there’s just too much. Work and family. Chores and friends. Clean out the closet. Read that book. Train the dog. Go grocery shopping. Sleep and everything else. Something’s got to give.

What gives is you …

There just are not enough hours in the day to complete everything. Usually when that happens the things that don’t get done are the things most important to you.

Should other things come before you?

You put family first. Your home. Your job. All those things are important, certainly, but without you, your health, your sanity, you won’t have those things.

Balance is the key

The only way to keep your sanity and stay happy and healthy is to have balance in your life. Balance work and family. Balance your chores with your friends. Don’t spend an hour a week training the dog when just a few minutes every day will give you immeasurable progress! Get the family involved! A shared load is an easier one. And if everyone helps, they’ll all have an investment in the outcome, ensuring its success!

How to get balance?

So, how do you achieve this balance? Prioritization is paramount. Write everything down that needs to get done. This will probably take the longest! Prioritize tasks. Make notes on who can help you with them. Call a family meeting and let everyone know that you’re feeling overwhelmed but that they can help you! You may be surprised at your family members’ willingness to chip in. Especially if you break jobs down into very small, specific tasks. If something seems like it won’t take a long time, it’ll get done!

A calendar will help

Now that you have your tasks, schedule their completion! A big wall calendar will keep the whole family on task. And if everyone writes in their jobs, their investment will continue and things will actually get done!