Your first principle of mental fitness is to value yourself. This does not depend upon your achievements, but rather to extend to yourself “unconditional positive regard.” You’re not being asked to be perfect or never to have done anything wrong. You simply allow yourself to feel good about yourself.
What robs you of your joy?
- You may fall into a trap of serving other people’s needs at the expense of your own.
- You waste time on problems or issues that cannot be solved.
- You get into “moods” in which you focus on what you do NOT have or how difficult changing your life would be.
- You worry about “what if’s.”
- You allow other people to affect you negatively in part because you may seek their approval.
So how do you bring more joy into your life?
Joyful people report that they use strategies that enable them to navigate life with a positive attitude. Through experience, they have come to the realization that opportunities as well as emotions cycle through ups and downs. During hard times this awareness gives them the faith that “this too shall pass.” Because they recognize the preciousness of the good times, rarely do they lament about the past. Instead, they focus on moving through life with a sense of wonder and joy.
Whenever you feel really frazzled, it is helpful to take a 10-minute break in between stressful tasks in order to unwind. During this short break, perform the following activities to de-stress:
Breathe: Pay attention to your breathing. Whether sitting or standing, focus on your breathing. How full is your breath and are you breathing deep down in the bottom of your abdomen?
Tighten and Relax: First with your hands and then your arms, feet, and legs, tighten each part of our body and hold it tightly for about 10 seconds. Then release that area. Do this with each quadrant of your body—tighten and release.
Visualize: Think about a place or situation in which you remember feeling completely relaxed. Close your eyes and take yourself back to the scene and take a deep breath, focusing on the relaxing feeling you had there. Next, envision a stream of energy pouring through your body, washing away the stress, allowing it to leave your body with every out-breath.
Fresh Air: If you are working inside and it is possible to go outside, take a moment to breathe deeply some fresh air. If you are unable to do that or even in addition to fresh air, try smelling a few drops of naturally scented oil. It can rejuvenate you, particularly scents like peppermint and citrus.
Taking a break, even though short, can provide just the shift that you need to release tension and move into a more balanced state.