A friend once said to me “Enough with the character building; we’ve got plenty of character.” And I do believe I have plenty of character, yet life keeps the lessons coming at me.
One of those lessons is that I need to make a practice of taking care of myself, and I’m not just talking about the physical parts (exercising more, and eating less garbage), although that is an element. I’m talking about taking care of the rest of me – the parts that make me me.
Most of the time, I can rattle off 5 or 15 things that I love to do and I know will lift my spirits. Most of the time. The rest of the time, I’ve learned to rely on The List. The list is an ever growing and changing document that I keep on my computer, and periodically print out a copy for my purse and beside the bed. I also usually have handwritten versions in my journals, along with notes of items to add to the master list.
What’s on the list? Little things I can do, that are mostly quick, easy and free or very inexpensive to lift my spirits. At first, it felt a little silly to keep a list of mood lifters, I mean, I know what I like to do, right? But in those moments when I need them most, that seems to be the time I can’t think of any of them. I also keep a list of healthy snacks handy, for those times when my discretion is at the mercy of my cravings, but that’s another post for another day.
I’m not going to post the entire list – just a short version of some of my favorites. These are just some ideas you can add to your own list if you see fit. I usually add an item to the list every week or so, especially as I find new hobbies in which to indulge. I’ve also crossed off a few items. People change; what lifts them up can change, too.
1. Get out the camera. Looking through the view finder forces me to look at the world with different eyes.
2. Change the lens on the camera. New lens, new perspective. Everything looks different.
3. Get lost. I love to hop in the car and drive. At every intersection, I choose the road with which I am least familiar until I’m lost. Then I find my way home. Instant adventure with a big bonus – I can do this while baby naps in her car seat.
4. Journal. There are two major approaches to journaling: to hold on to thoughts, or to purge them. Whatever works. I go back and forth between both forms of journal writing; it depends what I’m going through.
5. Toe wiggling. It is impossible to maintain a bad mood while simultaneously wiggling your toes for any amount of time. Try it. I dare you.
6. Take a bath. Yup, just wash the stress away.
7. Connect with a friend. Phone call, coffee date, 3 a.m. email, facebook message, tweet, late night giggle-fest, whatever… just reach out every once in a while. (This one is especially important for introverts like me. I wonder if extroverts really need this kind of reminder.)
8. Lend a hand. It frequently surprises me just how energizing and uplifting it feels to help someone else.
9. Exercise. Stop groaning, and just do it.
10. Giggle. Proximity to kids is good for this, or watch a comedy or comedian. Subscribe to the Bloggess, go back and look at pictures of yourself in the 80s. (ok, maybe that last one is a little frightening, but you get the picture)
11. Dance. This is much more fun than number 9, and if you do it right, it counts as exercise. We regularly have impromptu living room dance parties around here, and it always makes the day feel a little less gray.
And, if all else fails:
12. Ice cream.
EDIT: I was just asked about coffee. Of course, coffee is a pick-me-up for me, but as it is an addiction, there’s no need for me to list it.
What do you do for a pick-me-up?
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