creative joy, notice, love and hearts, 2012

Lately, I’ve been having a tough time. My mood has been low, and I haven’t been feeling my best. The details don’t matter. What does is that I’ve been feeling down.

And a down mood can easily leave one vulnerable to a down body image.

In other words, when we feel especially tense, anxious, upset, frustrated, confused or exasperated, our body image can suffer.

The answer? Some good coping strategies!

So today let’s talk about how to lift our moods and perk up our body image. Here’s a list of 40 ideas.

1. Get outside and enjoy the beauty of nature.

2. Participate in a fave physical activity.

I haven’t been active in several weeks now, and I can feel it. I feel it in my legs, which are hurting and super stiff. Clearly my mood has been affected, my anxiety is up. And even my concentration is waning. My body is crying out for activity, and I have to answer the call.

3. Phone a friend.

Preferably someone who always makes you giggle!

4. Write in your journal and let those feelings spill out onto paper.

5. Get a manicure or pedicure.

I don’t know about you but either doing my nails or getting them done is just a small boost that brightens my day.

6. Take a few deep breaths.

It doesn’t sound like much, but it works wonders in calming you down and easing the tension.

7. Read lines from your fave inspiring book.

8. Make a gratitude list.

When your feelings are basically in the crapper, this can be hard. But even the smallest of thank-yous can work.

Even if you just think of one thing you’re grateful for like “I’m glad I’m breathing” or “I’m glad that I didn’t break my leg today” or “Thank goodness for deodorant” or “Thank goodness for the show Bridezillas, which always puts life into perspective for me.” Whatever it might be, go with it.

9. Make time to watch a funny movie.

10. Take a nap.

Sometimes, your body desperately needs a break.

11. Take a shower or bath and apply lotion.

Not only does a shower or bath help you feel refreshed, but applying lotion is a treat for your body, and has a way of soothing your mind, too (and if it’s been a few days, there’s nowhere to go but up!).

12. Make yourself a yum meal.

I rarely take the time to cook for myself. First of all, I’m not very good. Secondly, I gloss over it, thinking that it’s a waste of time to spend 10 to 20 minutes making breakfast or lunch during the workday. But it’s not!

And cooking gives you some much-needed alone time, and time away from technology to smell, savor and bask in the beauty of fresh food.

13. Put on your fave fast song and start dancing.

Pull out moves from way back when. I distinctly remember when my cousin introduced me to the running man. We thought we were so cool. Now no one can tell me that doing the running man won’t inevitably make you erupt in laughter.

14. Put on your fave outfit and head out the door.

When I’m in a bad mood, I sulk around the house in sweats (or more accurately, tights, which are the greatest invention ever). But wearing the same tights day in and day out (yes, unfortunately, that’s not an exaggeration) leaves me feeling disconnected from my body and not enjoying my closet full of cute clothes.

Even if you’re running out to grab coffee, browse a bookstore or return something you bought, get dressed up and get out there.

15. Go somewhere new.

Novel things are interesting and exciting and they remind us that there’s more to life than a foul mood. Maybe this is checking out a new restaurant, a new exhibit at the museum (or one you’d normally never attend), a new band or even a new type of food.

16. Ask yourself why you’re feeling this way, and consider how you can solve it.

While you can’t control others or really most things in life, you still aren’t helpless. No doubt, there’s at least one step you can take to get at the root cause of your down mood.

17. Do some arts and crafts.

Sound silly? Arts and crafts actually remind me of childhood, fun and play – and that’s a great thing. It’s joyful to do something creative and let your mind, body and soul all participate.

18. Play with your pet – or if they’re 16 years old, just pet them.

Aside from the occasional sprint to the door to slip out even though he’s not supposed to, my cat doesn’t do physical activity, and he never liked those cat toys as a little kitty either.

Somehow my cat knows when I’m upset, and he comes right over and purrs, looking at me with his huge green eyes. Now that is an instant mood booster for sure.

19. Volunteer your time.

20. Work on creating your self-esteem file.

21. Do one thing you love, love, love every day.

It’s easier to cope with stress or a swinging body image when other areas of your life bring you joy, even if it’s something small like 10 minutes of drawing, reading, running, scrapbooking or whatever.

22. Let yourself cry.

I was never much of a crier. I hate crying in front of family, and close friends have seen me cry on several occasions tops. But I’ve realized that crying helps a lot in extinguishing emotion and anxiety. I still don’t like to cry in front of others but once alone, I open up Niagara falls and let my eyes leak. Crying does soothe the soul and ease, at least a bit, the heaviness in your heart.

23. Hug.

There’s something about touch that makes you feel better, so get or give a hug.

24. Comfort a loved one when they’re feeling crummy.

It’s a win-win for both of you.

25. Try out a new hobby.

Sometimes, a bad mood isn’t exactly the result of blues but more like boredom. Life is short – what have you always wanted to learn to do?

Take great pictures, participate in a race, get an article published, start your own blog, learn to play tennis, take dancing lessons? What is it?

26. Meditate.

27. Smile at a stranger.

28. Give someone a genuine compliment that goes beyond physicality.

29. Take an all-day trip somewhere relaxing.

Maybe that’s a picnic at the beach in a nearby town or a hike in a park.

30. Try to get enough sleep.

Sleep deprivation drags your mood and your body image along with it. (On a related note, avoid sleeping with your laptop because that’s definitely not helpful for healthful sleep.)

31. Eat a juicy piece of fruit.

I’ve rarely met a fruit I didn’t like (except kiwis, which make my stomach turn). Fruits aren’t just full of nutrients; they somehow help you feel rejuvenated. They have all my life.

32. Sing along to a funny song.

33. Connect with a friend or family member you haven’t had a chance to speak to in forever.

34. Walk among tons of flowers, even if it’s in a floral shop.

Don’t know what it is about flowers but with their fragrant smells and vibrant hues, they just put a smile on your face.

35. Browse blogs you love.

36. Donate your stuff to charity.

Every year, my mom and I clean out our closets and give anything we don’t want or need to the Salvation Army.

37. Take your camera to one of your favorite places and capture the beauty around you.

Don’t have a camera? Take pen and paper and record what you see, smell and hear. Love to draw? Illustrate your surroundings instead.

38. Get a massage from a partner or the spa.

It’s a great instant way to take out any tension.

39. For 10 minutes or so, sip on warm tea or a cool beverage.

Just savor, and nothing else.

40. Accept it, and be kind.

I know this has become like my motto or mantra, but don’t forget that body image is a process with ups and downs (similar to your mood). Accept that you aren’t feeling that great right now, and be gentle with yourself. No need to beat yourself up and force yourself to feel better. Be flexible, try a few activities and be kind to yourself along the way.

What helps you in boosting your mood and your body image? What would you add to the list?

P.S., I went to my regular Pilates class this morning, and I feel so much better about life. In fact, I feel alive.