I’m over it. I know we are all feeling that way about what’s going on right now. But I’m also over another thing. Reading all of those pieces of advice. You know the ones. Overcome Your Stress! Overcome Your Anxiety! Honestly, they all make me feel more stressed and anxious.
Oh sure, I’ve done what the expert shrinks suggest. I’ve expressed my feelings. I cried when I felt sad and screamed when I felt angry. I expressed my gratitude for being able to connect with loved ones (Thank you, Zoom!) and my frustration with not being able to connect on WiFi (Damn you, Zzzz-oooo-mmmm).
Here’s the thing. In an attempt to reduce my stress and anxiety, I just kept focusing on my stress and anxiety. And any attempt to breathe and meditate it away made me hyperventilate. Which in turn led me to try a host of other techniques that should have taken away my fear but really only led to pandemic performance anxiety.
So I started experimenting with other approaches. Which actually started making me feel better. And hopefully they will make you feel better, too.
1. Take a Cold Shower
When it comes to feeling good, one of my favorites is a hot shower. While that may be comforting, studies show that a 30-90 second blast of cold water at the end of your shower can actually improve your mood. There are some claims that it can also boost your immune system, cardiovascular circulation and overall vitality. Cold therapy can improve the health of mitochondria (the “powerhouses” of the cell) through a process called “mitochondrial biogenesis.” Feeling even more daring? Try filling your bathtub with ice and taking a cold plunge.
2. Tell Me What You Want. What You Really Really Want.
Have you noticed lately that you might be focusing more on what you don’t want than what you do want? I was doing just that. Why? Because in the world we’re living in right now, we are bombarded with negative messages.
So I came up with an idea. What if…I focus on what I do want rather than what I don’t want? And what I do want (besides a bacon cheeseburger served to me in a restaurant) is to feel good. Or at least feel better. If you really want to feel better, then you need to replace your negative talk with positive talk.
Instead of saying, “I don’t want to be stressed” say, “I want to be calm.” Replace “I don’t want to get sick” with “I want to remain healthy.”
The more you replace your negative statements with positive statements—including your thoughts and internal self-talk—the better you’ll feel.
3. Put the “L” back in LOL
I missed the sound of my own laugh. It’s not that I have such a great laugh—it can be a bit loud and nasally and sometimes I even snort–but I missed it. And I longed for the feeling that accompanied that laugh. I missed feeling…what’s that word? Oh. Happy.
I wondered…Where did my sense of humor go? It seemed to be buried under the sheets of the bed that I no longer made.
In a world filled with a multitude of things to make me cry, it was a challenge to find things to make me laugh. At first I tried eating all of my comfort foods in the hope that it would make me feel better. Massive bowls of Rice Krispies with spoonfuls of sugar followed by massive bowls of applesauce with vanilla ice cream. And Skippy peanut butter. On everything. Then I stopped eating my comfort foods (mostly because I ran out of them…except Skippy).
So I decided to search out healthier options to make me laugh. After all, laughing produces endorphins that make you feel good, right? And sure enough, I started feeling better. I hope these will make you feel better, too.
What if…Instead of watching the news, you watch episodes of Some Good News with John Krasinski (meet his famous friends, too!), clips of SNL (Betty White and Tina Fey skit! Kristen Wiig and anyone else skits!), rom-coms more than twice (Isn’t It Romantic, Notting Hill and really any movies by Richard Curtis), unlikely BFF animal videos (A rhino and a lamb!), or better yet…make your own TikTok video with your dog! In the mood to read? Choose People, Buzzfeed, US Weekly, Star, The Hollywood Gossip and OK! In the mood to exercise? Don’t! (Lol.)
4. Come Play My New Game.
It’s called Setting Boundaries.
It’s actually an old game with a new twist. Since I’m living in a world where everything feels out of control, I needed to find a way to feel in control. One of the things I can control is what I’m reading and watching, the people I’m connecting with, and the amount of news I consume. You see, I tried to convince myself that reading and watching everything and connecting with everyone made me awfully well-informed, when instead I realized it just made me feel awful.
Here are the the rules:
-Set limits on your news feed and social media time.
I allow myself to check my news feed and social media for only 30 minutes in the morning, 10 minutes in the afternoon, and never before bed. I allow myself to watch funny YouTube, TikTok or puppy videos whenever I want.
-Set limits on what friends and family can share with you.
I allow myself to tell friends and family they can only send me emails and texts that are fun or funny.
-Just say No.
I allow myself to not engage with every single old friend who I haven’t heard from in years but who is bored and has decided to reach out to me just because.
-Just say No. Again.
I allow myself to just say “No!” to Zoom invitations that do not make me happy, even if they do involve cocktails.
5. Say “Thank You, Tree.”
Or “Thank You, Pizza” or “Thank You, Sky” or “Thank You, Delivery Guy.” Just say “Thank You.”
Sometimes the whole push for showing gratitude can be overly complicated. While writing in a gratitude journal or meditating on gratitude are wonderful for some, for others that can be too much work.
So here’s what I suggest. Just say “Thank You” once a day. Say “Thank You” to something or someone. Thank your cellphone, your toilet paper, your coffee or YOU. Thank your own Self for being you.
In the spirit of saying thanks, I want to thank my mom for inspiring me to write this article. You’re right! I do feel better.