When we talk about our health, most people talk about our physical health. Our emotional health rarely makes the conversation. So I'm here to ask- how is your emotional health?
Feeling good? Great.
Not feeling so good? That's okay, too.
Wanting to feel better? Then let's talk about some things you can do to shift your mood.
The reality is that our physical and mental-emotional health are very intertwined. Our physical state affects our mental state, and vice versa. So when you're looking to feel better emotionally, and it feels so very out of your control, remember that you can make changes to your physical environment and self to help make that shift.
Sometimes our emotional health is in a place that prevents us from making that first move. Even when you know an acupuncture appointment or a walk would help make you feel better, even that can be too much effort and too big of a step to make. It can feel impossible to make a change.
Here is a list of easier, more subtle things that I find are helpful to shift mood:
- Journal -
With no judgement or expectations, journal your thoughts. Just word-dump it all out. Pen and paper not your thing? Try a dictation app to do the work for you. Thoughts and feelings can end up on an endless, repeating reel in our minds. Whether it's a to-do list, worries, fears, etc. By expressing those thoughts and feelings, you can give a name to them, give them a place to exist, and give your mind a break for a little bit.
- Cry -
Have you let yourself cry lately? Most of us have been told from a young age to stop crying. Whether in the context that we shouldn't be upset in the first place or that we should buck up and get over it, crying isn't very acceptable in our culture. But holding back those tears can sometimes add to that tension of emotional discomfort. In Chinese Medicine, that holding back adds to stagnation in the body. When you let your tears flow, you can initiate a release both mentally and physically. Did you know that emotional tears are even a different chemical composition than protective tears- such as those that are triggered by wind exposure or cutting an onion?
Let yourself feel what you're feeling (rather than ignoring or burying it), and let your body self-soothe as it knows how.
- Control your Soundtrack -
Music is a powerful way to control your physical environment AND your mood. Whether you want to chill out, wallow, cry, pump yourself up, move your body, or put a smile on your face- there's a song for that! I personally like keeping a stash of happy songs on hand. For example, I can't listen to "Candy" by Will Smith and not smile (try it, and don't judge ;) it's pretty ridiculous). But my favorite mood shifters change over time. This summer, I can't get enough of "Simple Song" by The Shins. I've laughed to it, cried to it, danced around the kitchen to it, and played it back to back on multiple occasions.
Pay attention to how you react both mentally and physically to music, and try using this information to your advantage!
Sometimes we need an extra hand to pull us out of a funk. Rescue Remedy is just that. This herbal tincture is focused on reducing stress and anxiety. Who couldn't use a little comfort and reassurance??
- Gratitude -
Have you slowed down enough to take note of all the things you have to be grateful for lately? Practicing gratitude can do wonders on your mood, attitude, and health. Maybe it feels like your life is falling apart around you, or maybe it feels like your body is failing you. But I bet even then there are countless miraculous mechanisms functioning properly in your body just so you can read this message here. Think about what happens when you're taking a breath- your body simply does it without telling yourself to, muscles simultaneously contract and relax, oxygen pours into your lungs, and is then transported via tiny blood cell carriers all over your body. This is amazing stuff! If you can, take a few deep breaths, think about everything that is working for you, and feel the tension seep out of your body.
Ready for the next level of gratitude? Pick up your journal again! Describe, or make a list, of all of the things you are grateful for. Make a big mega list that you can refer back to, or make it a daily practice to add to.
- You Time -
If our little shifts have accumulated into a big shift, and you're able to rally a bit more effort, I recommend setting aside some 'you time.' Find time to do something nurturing and nourishing for yourself. This will really vary for every individual, but I urge you to take just a little bit more action.
Maybe for you that looks like taking a bath, cozying up by a fire, reading a good book, cooking a meal, not cooking and going out to eat, getting your nails done, hanging out in your favorite tea or coffee shop, spending time in nature, or going for a walk.
There are times in our lives when we're able to take this time for ourselves, and times when we can't. Whatever it looks like, I just hope that you're able to make that extra bit of effort- because trust me, you're worth it.