Sunday, March 3, 2013

DIY Happiness

This post is written with a very dear friend of mine in mind. This is the sort of friend that you think about at least once a day, talk to probably every other day on the phone, and even the sort of friend that you get annoyed with one minute and then forgive the next. Basically, she's one of my best friends. She is going through a really rough patch lately, and as I have had her on my mind trying to think how I could help while living so far away, I thought I would start by dedicating this dumb little post to her.

If you've read my blog, you know I'm all about the DIY. Do-it-yourself painting, re-doing, refashioning. If I can figure a way (even in a hack job way) to do something by myself, you're going to find me trying. Sometimes it works, sometimes it goes badly (remember the polka dot bucket project??? Shudder, I hope not....) So while I was trying to think of some words that might go towards helping to cheer my friend up, I thought, why can't I do a DIY way to happiness? And maybe in the comments you can chime in and tell me the ways that you have found to get yourself through a hard time. That would be so awesome.
macgyver. the original DIY'er in my opinion. he could make anything out of anything. in fact, he probably made that rocket out of chewing gum and Chuck Norris. This post will be like the MacGyver of happiness. Hold on to your seats.

So, here are my own self-proclaimed dorky and rooky things that I do to get myself out of a funk or through a really hard patch. In no particular order:

1. pray. this one is easy in theory. but when i am really down, i make myself go into a room alone and pray out loud. sometimes i do it in spanish if i really don't want to feel embarassed about someone hearing me (because obviously talking out loud in a foreign language when no one knows what you're doing is way less embarassing but hey it works for me). really pour out your real worries and let yourself cry. also, work in some repentance and think of ways to do better without drowning yourself in additional sorrow. trust that God loves you enough that he will let your shortcomings go (and wants you to let them go too. Really, he does!)

2. call a friend. even if you think they don't want to hear about your bad day, do it anyway. just hearing their voice and laughing about their hijinx will make things better.
if this is an example of the sort of hijinx your friends regularly do, then please ask them to be my friends too.

3. deep clean something.  I read this on one of my favorite blogs (clover lane) and I laughed out loud. I thought--"That is just ridiculous! What an overachiever!" But then one time I was feeling really low and I decided that even though I didn't feel like I had the energy or strength to clean that day,  I was going to try it (I was willing to try anything at that point!) and it WORKED! Suddenly when you take control of your surroundings, your worries seem like they are not in control of you. Making order from chaos makes you feel like you can accomplish anything. This is just deep cleaning. Toy pick up sorta kinda counts, but you'll feel depressed once the house gets messy again. But if you know that the house is sanitized and de-crumbed, the clutter from kids won't get you down as much. Try it, tell me if it helps you someday!
that's right, you too could look like a cleaning ghostbuster

4. get some alone time. this isn't always possible if you have kids. but thankfully I get some time when Grant is napping. I take that time very seriously as me time. I will either shower, or nap or eat a nutritious lunch that no one else would like except for me. Usually that's a big salad with some delicious bread, a tall icy drink, and peace and quiet. If I have time, I take a nap. Having kids is tiring, don't feel guilty!

5. treat. yo. self. If you don't know what this means then you need to watch this video. I love parks and rec (except when it is dirty, but you know what I mean).
basically, do something nice for yourself. it doesn't have to expensive. I like to treat myself to some orange pellegrino every once in a while. Or maybe I'll take the time to paint my nails or buy a cardigan. Treat yo self is good fo yo soul.

6. change your perspective. If I find myself starting to get overwhelmed with anxiety I start asking myself some useful questions. "Can I change what is causing me worry right this second?" -If yes, then I do something about it and feel better about it being done. If the answer is No (which is usually is), then I tell myself that I am allowed to forget about it until I can do something about it. Worry rarely ever makes things better. Being positive almost always makes things better, for example, it usually helps your stomach lining. I will also ask myself how I can change my own attitude. if my attitude is really bad then I revert back to number 1 on the list and pray about it.

7. serve. we all know this one, and that it helps our burdens seem easier to see what others are going through. it won't necessarily make things better in our lives, but it will help with that change of perspective sometimes.

8. change something about your appearance. this one is really superficial, but sometimes if I am in the bad weather doldrums I will perk myself up by buying a new lipstick or brushing my hair a new funky way, or getting a trim. don't be afraid to try something new, hair grows out people! life is too short to be so afraid!

9. learn something new (recipe, song). If I am feeling down because I'm bored, I try to do something new. I'll try to find new music that I like (pandora is great for this) or read a new book or bake a new recipe. I am the queen of easily getting bored, so this one is one that I struggle with constantly. I try to look at things in a different way, including parenting, and make it into a challenge of how i can make something really lame into something funny or interesting (like playing with playdough for the five millionth time or playing kitchen. I actually try to think of how to make the games more fun for me!) My kids love it when I am able to stop being such a grinch and they learn how to play more imaginatively too. It's rare when I can pull it off, but it makes the day go by much faster when I change my attitude from blase to making something into a challenge. one last example of this is when Maddy wanted to play dolls and we decided it was the doll's birthday. we made a birthday banner, a mini pennant banner out of paper and tape and string. we googled how to make miniature cakes for dolls and made those, and we even fashioned sleeping bags so they could have a doll sleepover. by the end, I was having as much fun as she was!
note: our's didn't turn out this cute, but it was still really fun! (I couldn't steal a photo from John's instagram to post our version here)

10. paint. this one probably only applies to me, but painting furniture or walls is therapy for me. find your thing that brings you pleasure and do it. i hear excercising is good at this too. ;)

11. remember that everyone's life is just as challenging. it's easy to assume that because people's lives look amazing on blogs or facebook or from the outside, that they are easy. sure, they may have some things easier than you, but we all struggle with something. sometimes to make myself laugh I take this idea and run with it and make up all of these outrageous, couldn't possibly be true, things that may be going on in people's lives that I don't know about (like, Wow, she really baked such a gorgeous cake....but I'm sure she is struggling with something I don't know ghosts). ha. also, having a sense of humor should be on the list, but hopefully the picture below expresses that well enough.

12. read your journal or old blog posts. they make me remember what things are really important to me, and they help me remember when things were harder than they are even now! they remind me that God is at the helm and that he has helped me so far, and he won't abandon me or you now.

13. listen to music (but not the kind that makes you moody). music can be awesome, but beware the moody stuff when you are down. I recommend something snazzy.

14. go outside and get some sun. let your kids run around even if it is cold outside. just bundle them up and then all go out together. it will do you a world of good to get some vitamin D and some fresh air. the kids need it too.
don't you feel better just looking at this picture?? like a big sigh of relief. aaahh

15. eat vegetables.

16. spend money on a family experience (that isn't eating our or a movie). i nix eating out and movies because those are such normal things to do. I like to think outside the box. plus, honestly, eating out with my two kids is hardly ever relaxing. unless it's chik-fil-a where they have the promise of playtime afterwards. save the good restaurants for date night I say!

17. look for new things to do in your town. we have a butterfly house I want to visit. and this saturday we went to a horse farm just to look at the horses (we called ahead and were told it was fine).

18. read a conference talk. or a devotional. this was sent to me by a dear friend during a hard time and I re-read it several times a year. she was an answer to my prayer without even knowing it.

19. make your bed. and then try not to get back into it. hardest part.

20. vent on facebook and then delete the vent hours later. actually I don't recommend this one, it just seems to happen to me occasionally. awkward. :)

21. cry. it's okay, you'll feel better afterwards. if you don't, the cry some more.

22. try to remember the things that you genuinely do well and appreciate yourself. we are our own worst critics. turn off the mean girl voice in your head and just list the things that you do well. and then try to thank yourself for doing a good job. some days it is easier to do this than others, but it's a good thing to do occasionally. (especially if you're a mom and feel like a bad mom most days).

23. if you're married, hug your spouse. a lot. and talk to them and cry with them, and if they are a priesthood holder, ask for a blessing. if money is stressing your marriage, sit down and work it out until you no longer feel fearful. respect each other. depend on each other. be on each other's team.

that's about all I got. there are so many other things. to my dear friend, i hope you feel better soon, but until then, I love you lots.



luvnmy10 said...

Wow! You came up with a lot of really good ideas. I usually cry-alot, then sit and stare out the window. Then I am mostly back to normal within a day or two. I don't talk about my feelings.. Wish I did, I think it's a martyr thing.. Like "if anyone loved me they would know why I'm sad", so dumb to think that way! I don't handle hard times emotionally, very well. Grateful I don't have down times that last long. Great advice to your friend, I hope she feels better soon! Love you!

Kelly said...

I have a good feeling that your ideas will help your friend! Sometimes it's just knowing that a friend wrote a special blog post just for you! Such a lucky friend! Many of tears were had today, and many lonely moments, but then moments like the one you just gave to me remind me that I have at least 2 people who care! Thank you Jennifer! I love you and your cubbly cuddlers! Ps that video gave me my first laugh today! Thanks!

Missy said...

Love this! I want to pin it, if you don't mind. :) For me, the thing that helps me the most is to just go to bed! Napping sometimes helps if its in the middle of the day, but usually a good-night's rest helps me a ton! It's a new day and usually I can tackle it better. I loved that clip too and love that idea. :)

Carrie said...

All were excellent suggestions! It reminded me of things I used to do that I had forgotten about. They all made me smile, reflect on my difficult times and reflect on the good times that came after the dark times.

I used to listen to Disney music...for some reason it made me smile and feel happy as I sang along. Conference talks were big too. Everything was big!! Good job, and here's to your beloved friend and brighter days ahead :-)

Lindy said...

This is awesome, just like you. Seriously, thank you for typing this all out. It will be helpful for many others as well as your friend. Love you!

jane said...

I just sent the devotional link to my friend who became a widow last week, because it inspired me, and I hope she will find it comforting. Actually, I think maybe I'll send her the whole blogpage....

The sunshine photo is my friend who gets the seasonal blues, and me.

Tuck this in to your *gifts* list. Just wish I'd figured some of these out about 40 years ago.....

One more cheering idea for you...try using the internet links to plan out your favorite dream vacation: check out the rooms for a stay in a castle, enjoy a boat ride down a narrow canal, see the tulip fields in Holland, look through the virtual tour of a grand museum, click on the animated Bayeux tapestry--just go! Everybody needs a good vacation now and then!


Emily Foley said...

I think you posted a link to that talk on my blog or Emilie's blog once and I listen to it (I love his voice so listening is better than reading for me) ALL THE TIME. All the time. And I give it to other people who are having a hard time too. One of the best talks I've ever heard. So, thanks for that.

For me, shopping almost always helps. Unless the stressor is money, then it makes it worse. But for real, just getting a new pair of shoes or something small--something from Sephora or something--it really does help me. I wish it didn't since I live in a place where that's not really possible, but it seriously does.

Katamaran said...

Hahaha Jen I clean when I'm sad or angry! <3 my husband jokes "I should make you mad more often"