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How about helping yourself by preparing for the inevitable. The inevitable being, there will be times that are not the best. You may just feel down in the dumps one day, for no apparent reason. The stressors in your life may reach a point where you feel overwhelmed. Or, perhaps, you do not feel well for a specific reason---something has gone wrong, you have a thorny problem, or you've sustained a loss.
In any case, doesn't it make sense to put a plan in place in advance of something going awry in you or in your life? This means that you have things ready to go to when you feel bad. Once you already feel bad, it is much more difficult to figure out how to help yourself.
So, how do you begin to make this source of sustenance for yourself? First, just begin noticing the things that are particularly nourishing (psychologically) for you. This will be quite individual. No two people find the same things to be sustaining. We have discussed the difference between introversion and extroversion, as defined by Carl Jung, in earlier posts; it's an easy example of a sort of broad-brushstroke-difference. Some people will find it relaxing and encouraging to be with others, in a social situation, or, at the very least, out in the public, at a coffee shop or wherever there is activity and people. On the other hand, some will find time to themselves a relief and a way to recuperate. This is a basic propensity you will want to know about yourself. (which way is your natural inclination)
~But, what else? What can you do?
- Does music help you? Make a CD of happy music---music that makes you feel especially good.
- Do words inspire you? I have a list of words that put me in a positive frame of mind; it is ever-changing, but here are a few of those on my current list: health, beauty, spirituality, counseling, personal growth, insight, light, rested.
- Most people find that physical activity raises the levels of good-feeling chemicals in their brain, so a work-out, (probably when you least feel like it!), would be very helpful.
- Robert Sapolsky,PhD, who has been studying stress for many years, has recently found that the affiliative individual in a group (work? family? board position? etc.) has lower levels of stress hormones in their system than those who behave in an "alpha" manner.
- Pay attention to your body signals, just to be sure something is not amiss physically.
- Have you found certain books that really ring true for you? I have. I keep them in a special stack, for comfort if I need it.
- Some people find that a practice of meditation works as a balancing factor and serves to prevent or reduce the incidence of feeling down. "A regular practice of meditation affects everything in your life for the better." Tom Clark, LCSW
- Listen to your self-talk: Are you repeating, automatically, in your own mind, self-denigrating thoughts? Stop them. Use kind words when you speak to yourself.
- Do you have a life plan? Review it; get yourself back on track.
- "Stop paying attention to something no good or not right. Pay attention to things that are good or right." Tom Clark
- When good things happen, it is worth taking the time to record them---in your calendar, as I mentioned I do (see the post titled, Reverse Charting), or in a journal, or even make a special log that you keep along with your other items that are set up for you to help yourself when things get tough.
- Take a long, slow, deep, breath---it always helps.
- Review your accomplishments. Why not? You worked for them---reflect on them to give yourself a boost.
- Dress up. Some people find they feel better when they look well.
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