Day 1: Feeling blue

As mentioned in my last post, my goal this month is to follow the December prompts on BlogHer. The theme this month is ~JOY~. I think I’m a fairly joyful person but I’ve been less than joyful lately when dealing with my day job. I think exploring joy for the month of December is a great way to channel my Zen and refocus myself. I’m also hoping writing based on prompts will help me explore some ideas I might not otherwise write about.

Day 1: What do you do when you’re down to bring yourself a little joy?

As much as we might not like it, we’re all human and that means we all have feelings. Sometimes these feelings elevate us and sometimes they break us down. Sometimes we can manage our feelings and sometimes they’re overwhelming. Someone told me once, “it’s not that you shouldn’t have negative feelings, you just can’t let them paralyze you”. I have found this to be crazy useful advice when working with young children but I also keep it tucked away for those days when I might need it in my own personal life.

So how do you keep from letting negative feelings paralyze you? For me it comes down to the “three Ds”; denial, distraction, and decontamination.

  • Denial – This is my first line of defense for very low level bad moods. For example, if I have a terrible night of not sleeping I’ll often wake up with a stomach ache. This is something I just know about my body and it passes once I get going and get involved in my day. Instead of whining about it I acknowledge the root cause and deny myself the negative feeling. It’s an act of turning feeling back into fact. My stomach hurts because I didn’t sleep well. Once turned into fact there no longer need to be negative feelings attached.
  • Distraction – Sometimes turning a feeling into a fact isn’t enough to wash the negativity away, or sometimes a feeling doesn’t have a reasonable fact to attach it to. For example, run of the mill grumpy moods. Sometimes I wake up on the wrong side of the bed and feel more annoyed than usual by the little things in life – someone talking on the subway, someone chatting at work, etc. For this type of grump there typically isn’t a good fact to pull out. It’s usually just me being a grumposaurus. So for those cases I try to distract myself until I don’t feel like being grumpy and/or I’ve forgotten what made me grumpy in the first place. I might put on some music, pick up something to read, indulge in a trashy tv show or even go take a nap if I’m feeling particularly grumpy. Taking a walk, chatting with a friend, or doodling on a piece of paper can also be nice distractions. Anything to pull me out of my temporary funk.
  • DecontaminationThis big bad mama jama is reserved for more involved negative feelings. The navy blues, if you will. When feeling to fact doesn’t work, and the negativity persists through distraction (or returns later), I deploy the emotional outriggers and start de-tangling my problems. I’m not always the best at compartmentalizing my feelings so this often means negative feelings invade and contaminate all areas of my life. Persistent negativity requires a little bit of investigation to find the root problem, and work to scrub the unrelated areas that have been contaminated. For cases like this I have a go-to song that I play to calm myself down, and then I will write, doodle, or talk things out (with another person or just with myself). Having a calm conversation allows me to clean things up emotionally and work through the negative feelings.

Oh, and brownies. Those will almost always cheer me up. And hugs. Brownies or hugs. 🙂