The 5-Step Happy Plan

>> Tuesday, February 17, 2015

About a month ago, I declared that “IT STOPS TODAY” -- and I meant it. The “it” was this deep funk I have found myself in and it’s impact on how I’ve been caring for myself. In the 30 days since, I’ve really taken charge of my mental and physical health. But I didn’t have high hopes for its impact on my day to day life. Strangely enough, I’ve discovered that even a few small modifications can turn your life around or at least set you in a better direction. And it can all start right now!

I thought I’d share some of the steps I’ve taken toward happiness lately, and I hope you find them useful -- even if it’s only for a tasty green smoothie recipe.

#1: Move More

The winter is rough on me. Let me rephrase: THIS winter has been really rough on me. I do get a touch of SAD each year, so leaving the house and moving my body is important for my overall wellbeing. It’s been especially hard lately with the wind chills and snow, but taking time here and there to move around, stretch, and fight off stagnation gives me a boost. Doing Barre3 workouts has been a nice change in my day, even when I only do one for 10 minutes. Running has been somewhat elusive, but instead of feeling down about that, I’ve looked forward to the opportunities I have had to be outdoors, even if it means slapping on my cross-country skis.

#2: Drink Green Smoothies

This one sounds so silly and simple, but it’s worth doing. My diet isn’t terrible, but it could always be better -- especially in the greens department. I feel tremendous health and happiness in a green glass of frosty smoothie. Maybe it’s all the tropical fruits I’ve been filling mine with . . . but this is a habit I intend to keep up. Here are some of my tips for blending better green smoothies, as well as my favorite mix that serves two or three: 1 ripe banana, 1/2 to 1 cup mix tropical fruit, two large handfuls baby kale or super greens (Wegmans), 1 cup coconut milk, and then water to achieve desired consistency.

#3: Write and Play

I shared a whole post about how I’m using writing for healing these days. Getting my thoughts out onto paper or screen helps me sort my mind and make more meaningful plans for next steps. Along with writing, I’ve been leaning on other non-exercise mental health tools. For me, this means picking up my violin everyday to play for a half hour or so. Rather than sit and stew in my head, having some releases that I work into the day has been transformative.

#4: Banish the Negative

Refocusing my attitude has also been a big change. A hard change. I was getting this snowballing negative side of me, which is already easy to do since I naturally lean that direction. My self awareness was down, and I was finding it difficult to break out of being down and downright crotchety. To start, I stopped the activities that tend to bring out my snarky side. Checking Facebook profiles of frenemies, reading sites like GOMI, steeping myself in pregnancy forums, etc. At first, it was challenging to make the mental switch because I’d so automatically used these activities for sick “entertainment" in spare minutes here and there. After a month, I don’t miss them anymore. And I actually am feeling lighter.

#5: Refocus

Versus spending all my time zeroed-in on what’s causing me the most anguish, I’ve been trying to redirect and refocus my energy, attention, and efforts. Some of this has meant not spending so much time in self-pity and -- instead -- looking outside of myself. I’ve been spending time forging new friendships and getting out of my shell. I’ve been saying yes to opportunities I used to shut out. And I’ve been using the energy I do have to be productive about my goals versus pining for life to be different. I’m focusing on loving my life as it is, not hating what it isn’t.

Do you have any “steps” toward happiness you might add?

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