Bad days. We all have them. I had a string of them this week that revolved around my gym, my refuge.
The one place where I can usually leave my troubles behind has become a gossip mill and place of relationship battles so bad, it makes the current political debates look as peaceful as floating in a pond of lilies.
The details aren’t important. But in my more than 35 years of gym attendance, this is the first time I could not figure out how to stay away from annoying people.
Drama. Lots of drama, backstabbing and questions like, “She said what about me??”
It wasn’t one, single thing. More like death by a thousand paper cuts.
As much as I rely on my sense of humor and conversations with real friends to get me through, by the time I left the gym, I felt as if a fist-size rock sat in my gut. And it didn’t move all day, like when you eat a protein bar on an empty stomach.
Do you know that feeling?
The logical part of my brain tells me I’m being ridiculous and I need to go about my business and ignore this childish nonsense.
The emotional side tells that part of my brain to shut the hell up and that yes, this is a real crisis that will become worse than a teenage horror flick if ignored.
It’s a constant battle to keep things in perspective. Usually the logical side loses.
I listen to a radio show that features a game called, “First World Problems,” where the radio host invites listeners to call in with their “silly” problems, such as Starbucks putting too much foam on your mocha latte, the housecleaner showing up late, or a situation such as my gym chaos.
They then tell the caller a recent news story about someone with a serious, real-life catastrophe, such as a woman who lost a leg in a tragic accident.
The host then asks the person which problem she’d rather have, too much foam on her coffee or a missing limb.
Of course she chooses to keep her own, now seemingly ridiculously small, problem.
Thing is, often when you’re in the middle of a bad situation – petty or not – it can seem like a huge obstacle.
And then you obsess over it, ruminate and run over the scenario so many times in your mind you’re unable to focus on anything else in your life. Everything suddenly sucks. Work becomes overwhelming. Loved ones are secretly plotting against you. Even your cat is more aloof than usual.
Or maybe that’s just me.
So what can you do?
If you’re like me you lick your wounds by heading straight for retail therapy, specifically makeup shopping.
Problem is, I end up with a perfect shade of Pouty Pink, a waterproof brow pencil and $100 credit card bill on top of the aggravating situation.
Result: worse than ever.
Clearly, that’s not the answer.
A better idea is to take action that gets you out of the obsessive quicksand of your mind and moving forward so you can get on to more important things in life.
Here are ideas from happiness experts that help me and may help you, too:
1. Do something good for someone else
Helping someone else out can do wonders for your own feelings of worth. Even though they’re not “technically” people, it’s why I volunteer at a cat rescue. No one talks back to me, spreads rumors or gives me a hard time. And I leave knowing the kitties have clean water, fresh food and got a little exercise.
2. Find a distraction
Instead of mulling over the situation at hand, go to a movie, take a walk with a friend or get lost in a book. Usually whatever’s bothering you will seem smaller afterward. Just be careful you don’t do something that allows you to further obsess, such as in the case of taking a walk alone with nothing but your thoughts to keep you company. That could backfire.
3. Look into the future
Ask yourself what will this matter in a month? A year? Five years? Chances are, it will be lost or long forgotten by then. When I remember to do this it works exceptionally well.
4. Write about it
I confess, one reason I wrote this post was to get it out of my system. Writing about whatever’s on your mind can shine a light on it and bring some relief. It works for me.
5. Fake it
I know it sounds crazy (as if that’s a first for me…), but acting friendly and putting a fake smile on your face can actually help you feel better. Research shows going through the motions of being happy can lift your mood.
Do you have a way that works to turn around a blue mood? Let me know in the comments section below… or post if you’re going to try one of these tips this week.
Other posts you may find helpful:
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Go forth and be your happy, Ageless awesome self!
Your Ageless Body Coach,