How To Be Happy
At 21, I was diagnosed with work related stress and anxiety. It was the lowpoint of my life, and I’ll never forget how it feels not being able to get out of bed for days and weeks and crying uncontrollably, for no apparent reason, on a daily basis.
I wasn’t technically depressed (at least I have never been diagnosed with depression) but for years (and sometimes still to this day) my life felt like I was balancing on the edge of falling deep into the darkness. From time to time, we all get a little down, but maybe some people are more prone to sadness than others. All I know is that for me, it can happen if I’m feeling overwhelmed, if I feel like I’m not doing well with my goals or something disappointing happens in my life.
When these situations occur, my first instinct is to nest up in bed, eat junk and not leave the house or talk to anyone for several days.
Since 2011 I have made tremendous progress as I realized that I have to make a concious decision to not let myself dwell in my sadness…
Instead, when those old familiar feelings start sneaking up on me, I do the following…
1. Cry Baby Cry
I find a quiet, safe place where I can be alone. And let the feelings of sadness, despair or disappointment consume me and, if I feel like it, I cry, cry, cry… Just let it hurt. And then I let go. I have an easier time pulling myself out of it after a good cry-session. I can see everything more clearly and usually I feel much better and ready to move forward.
I might also call someone who is really close to me, like my mom, and talk to her about everything. She’ll always support me and comfort me, and I know I can cry and repeat myself to her 1000 times and she’ll still be there to listen, because she cares. But she’ll also make me see the good in a bad situation and help me move forward in life.
Before, I would have tried to hold back my tears. I felt like crying was a weakness and if I had been in a difficult situation, I would feel like I handled the situation better if at least it didn’t make me cry. But not surrendering to my feelings just made the sadness and despair build up inside me. I tried to numb it with food and alcohol until I just couldn’t ignore it anymore. But allowing ourselves to feel your feelings is so vital to our internal and mental health. Don’t ignore your feelings.
2. Get Out
My second tip to get yourself out of the funk is to get out of the house!
Either just to get some sun in your face and fresh air in your lungs or, even better, to meet up with your fun friends (see next step)
When you’re sad, depressed or have anxiety, exercise seems like the last thing you want to do. But research on depression, anxiety and exercise shows that physical activity can help improve mood and reduce anxiety.
Exactly why it helps isn’t entirely clear, but regular exercise may help by:
- Releasing feel-good endorphins
- Take your mind off your worries and into the activity you’re performing
- Make you more confident as you reach your goals – even small ones count.
- Help you cope in a healthy way by doing something positive, instead of turning to alcohol, too much food or dwelling on how you feel
It doesn’t matter what you do, just get out and do something. Either on you own, with a friend or as a group!
Activity suggestions: Shopping trip, the movies, a brisk walk, gym sesh, spa day, the beach or pool, nice food, dress up and go for a few drinks with friends…
If you feel like getting out but don’t have anyone to go out with, I recommend treating yourself to a nice mani/pedi, hair appointment or shopping trip. It’s called retail therapy for a reason and when you’re sad it’s ok to treat yourself a little. Take care of yourself like you would take care of your best friend if he/she was going through a hard time.
3. Hang Out With Fun Friends
Make sure you meet up with friends who might understand that you’re sad, but don’t have time to listen to your sadness because they’re just too bubbly, energized and positive. Someone who will support you in your sadness and dwell in it with you is the last thing you need right now. I’m not telling you to dump the friends that might be a little less happy-go-lucky, but it’s essential that you’re also seeing friends that will lift your mood!
4. Feng Shui
Okay maybe you don’t have to go completely Feng Shui, but at least make sure your living space is clean and tidy. Few things are more draining than living in a messy, dirty space. If your house is currently a mess, take the time to give it an overhaul (good music goes a long way! Or just pay someone to do it…) and you’ll instantly feel more energized, happy and productive.
5. Eat Healthy
I don’t believe in restrictions, but overall, make sure your diet is healhty and rich in nutrients. Vitamins such as vitamin D, folate and B12 all have shown to have an effect on mood disorders and might possibly help ease depression.
For a natural source of Vitamin D, try getting outside in the sunlight for at least 15 minutes daily (without sunscreen) or add these foods to your diet:
- Egg yolks
- Soy milk
Most people in the northern hemisphere can benefit from adding a vitamin D supplement to their diet as well. 10-25 μg daily is usually enough to prevent deficiency, but if you suspect you’re already deficient go to the doctor and have it checked. He or she might prescribe a mega-dose of vitamin D for a while, to get your levels back up to a healthy range.
Folate is found in foods such as:
- Dark leafy greens
Vitamin B12 can be found in foods such as:
- Cottage cheese
- Lean beef
It can also be an idea to look at your diet if you’re generally eating a high amount of sugar and not a lot of fiber. Too much sugar on it’s own gives your blood sugar levels a spike, followed by a crash that might leave you feeling sluggish and more depressed over time.
Adding more fiber to your diet can help slowing down the absorbtion of sugar into your bloodstream.Some healthy fiber rich foods are:
- All types of kale
6. Personal Development
Feeling like whatever you’re going through is developing you as a person makes you feel like all the pain is somehow worth it.
Do some soul searching and allow yourself to question what truly matters to you. What are your dreams, goals and ambitions and how can you start working on achieving them? Sometimes we tend to forget what really matters and what isn’t important because we get caught up in our emotions. But some things just aren’t worth getting upset over, and when you realise that it’s easier to just let it go.
“Let go” is a very powerful mantra to adopt by the way. It’s incredibly liberating and empowering.
When you become more self aware and practice self-love, it’s a little easier to love your journey, even if it’s not always smooth! Life isn’t supposed to be easy and if we can accept that and use the pain to push us forward or redirect us in life, we are so much more likely to find what makes us happy in life!
I love my meditation journal from Alex Elle & I love doing yoga and going for long walks.
I also love working with different online coaches, depending on the problem I’m facing. If you feel stuck in your life try listenting to Style Your Mind Podcast and if you’re heartbroken or struggling with relationships, try following Matthew Hussey or Rori Raye on Youtube.