I woke up this morning in a mood. It happens sometimes, you know? I just woke up and immediately was feeling kind of out of place, maybe a little sad for no reason, unmotivated. Sometimes, I just let myself wallow in these days and do nothing but lay in bed or lay on the couch and binge Netflix. But today was not a day I could allow myself the space to do so. My next semester starts tomorrow, I’m taking two classes and student leading for a third, and the shop is launching in less than a month. There’s no time to spend a day in bed.
So, I got up, I made myself a cup of coffee, and did a little bit of journaling before hopping in the shower to make myself presentable for the day. I then packed up my laptop and headed off to explore a new coffee shop I hadn’t visited yet, journal some more, and get some work done outside the house.
Unfortunately, while I was trying to remedy my mood, I received some news that just pushed the mood a bit more than I needed today, and I suddenly remembered a Yoga Girl podcast from last spring about creating an Emergency Toolkit for Wellbeing.
I remember listening to this podcast just after it was released and thinking to myself that I really needed to create a toolkit of my own, for days like today. Of course, I never actually made one, so I’m doing it now, and hopefully having it in writing will keep me accountable, and perhaps help others that may be in a mood today, too.
Check out my post on mental health and zero waste here.
One of the first things I always do when I’m feeling stressed or anxious, or just in a mood, is focus on my breathing. Not necessarily mediate, although I do that sometimes too, but just focus on how I’m breathing.
In general, I’m a shallow breather, so when I focus on my breath - the inhale and the exhale - I take deeper breaths, bring more oxygen into my body and brain, and slow down my overworked nervous system. It’s a simple concept, but it’s great no matter where I am.
I’m not as good at doing this in the cooler months, but in the warmer months, when I’m feeling anxious, I just step outside for a bit. Even just my apartment patio that looks out to the parking lot helps. Something about the outdoors, especially combined with focusing on my breath, immediately brings my blood pressure down. Fresh air is sometimes the best medicine.
Yoga, or Stretching
I carry all of my stress in my neck and shoulders. Most days, I don’t really notice it, but on days like today it becomes highly apparent. I don’t practice yoga regularly (although it is one of my new year intentions to practice more), but even just a few poses that I do know for a few moments always seem to help.
If I’m not in a place conducive to yoga, a few quick stretches usually do the trick, too.
Photo credit: Jared Rice on Unsplash. How incredibly peaceful does this look?
Drive Around, Listen to Loud Music, and Sing Badly
This isn’t the most eco-friendly option, so I usually combine it with grocery shopping or some other errand I need to run, but it is one of my favorite tools in the toolkit. Music has a way of expressing the emotions we can’t find the words for, and saying the things we can’t. When things are bad, or when things are good, I turn to music. Sometimes I smile, sometimes I cry, but I’m almost always singing along, and quite terribly. It’s therapeutic, and combined with driving somehow helps even more.
Take a Bath
Taking a long, hot bath is the best. I usually have a glass of wine and a glass of water with me, light a candle, and throw on a peaceful acoustic Spotify playlist in the background. Our bodies are mostly water, which is why many of us feel at home in the water. Taking a bath has the same effect. I usually find myself calming down to complete peace within 15 minutes or so.
I’ll be honest, I have a bad habit of turning to coffee when I’m in a mood, but I recognize that’s not at all healthy nor helpful. I’d like to be better about turning to water instead, which is why I’m listing it here. I know that when I do drink lots of water, I feel so much better. I just need to do it more.
What’s in your Emergency Toolkit for Wellbeing?