February was a long month. That sounds counterintuitive, I know, because it’s actually the shortest month in the year. I can’t argue with those missing days on the calendar, I can only tell you how it feels to me. And it feels like it was a long month.
The thing is, I live my life in peaks and troughs. I’ll get peak periods of energy where I feel like I can conquer the whole damn world, and my mind is full of positive affirmations like get it girl, you’ve got this, and who run this mother! These are the times where I decide to fuel my body with only the best food, and I enter the working week with swagger, and I take on all these crazy projects to fuel my creative mind.
Like one Saturday in January, when I randomly decided to buy an art diary so I could spend the afternoon painting on my balcony. Except I failed to buy any actual paint, so I improvised by creating this weird mess of food colour and dishwasher detergent, and now I basically have these horrible, colourful scraps of paper lying around that I wouldn’t even use to clean the barbecue.
At least Joe seems to find them interesting.
The point is, I had the energy for that sort of thing. But then come the troughs, where entire weeks pass in a blink and it’s like I’m standing at the bus stop watching the bus I was supposed to catch drive away like, wait, was that my bus?
Or, if you’re not a fan of metaphors: how did an entire month pass without me making any progress towards my goals?
I guess it makes sense: the world itself runs in cycles. Seasons, tides, the economy. Even breathing. It’s all peaks and troughs.
Maybe it’s entirely natural to live in cycles. But one result of living in this social media age is that we are only ever exposed to the peaks. This sucks when you’re going through a trough because, according to Instagram, you’re the only one who’s not out there crushing it or side hustling or wanderlusting all over the place. You’re left with this severe FOMO, watching all those people out there peaking.
And what am I doing? Oh, I’m just watching Miss Congeniality 2 in my pyjamas at 3 pm while eating nachos. (True story.)
Error: image not found. I guess I didn’t want to document that.
So I’ve been thinking a lot about these peaks and troughs, and how best to ride out the trough without coming out of it feeling like you’ve just been dumped by a deceptively large wave. And there’s one thing I’ve started doing which I thought would be cool to share on the blog (and because frankly it’s about time I wrote another of those things).
I call it my Happiness Failsafe – a list of actions I can take that are proven to lift my mood and energy levels. If I’m feeling low, these are the things I can rely on to have a positive impact on my wellbeing. (Eating nachos and watching bad sequels does not make the list.)
So here it is, my ever-evolving Happiness Failsafe:
- Spend time in nature. Leaves, sky, sand, grass: these things literally recharge my batteries. Even when everything else sucks, it’s good to remember that the natural world is still beautiful, and we should be grateful.
- Practice yoga. Whether it’s a full-on class or just me on my deck, I always come out of yoga feeling better than before. It helps clear my mind (something I desperately need sometimes) and makes me feel connected with my body in a truly positive way.
- Go for a walk, or just do anything active. This can also knock off numbers 1 and 2. Fresh air and exercise endorphins work wonders.
- Take a hot shower. Something so simple, but it’s like a reset button. I always emerge from the steam feeling better about life.
- Phone Mum. No matter how old I get, sometimes I still need to have a little cry to my Mum.
- Hug someone. I read somewhere that holding a loved one for 30 seconds or more can really improve your mood. And it’s true. Sometimes you just need a hug.
- See a friend in the flesh. Sunlight, human interaction, joy. That’s a quote from We Bought A Zoo, one of my favourite movies, but it’s a pretty good Happiness Failsafe in itself. And, come to think of it…
- Watch one of my favourite movies. We Bought A Zoo, The Blind Side, 500 Days Of Summer, Pocahontas. Doesn’t matter what genre, just can’t be Miss Congeniality 2.
- Turn off the TV. This seems in conflict with item number 8, but it’s important to be mindful of screen time. One movie is fine, but if I’m not careful, suddenly I’ve sunk 6 hours in a Netflix show I wasn’t even enjoying. And that never feels good.
- Make something. Doesn’t matter what – misguided food-dye paintings, a keepsake travel photo book, an exotic meal, even adult colouring-in: the act of physically producing something always lifts my mood.
The first time I cooked Tofu (after being vegetarian for almost a year). Luckily I’m much better at cooking than I am at painting.
I’m still tweaking the list and discovering new things to add, but I’ve found it so helpful to have this failsafe in my back pocket for the times I’m feeling exhausted or rundown or just low. It’s empowering to have some ammunition for those trough periods, when life isn’t all sunrises and brunches and wanderlust photos. And I’m willing to bet that many of us would have similar things in our Happiness Failsafe – so I’d love to know, what’s in yours?