25 January 2010, 08:24
I love that phrase — “putting the light back in your heart” — which was emailed to me by a nonpareil asking me how she could do just that. Her boyfriend recently broke her heart & so she is looking for ways to make herself feel better. I’m sure she’s not the only one who needs it, either! Whether you have the winter blues, are hard up for cash or just feel a little out of step with yourself at the moment, we could all use some ideas to cheer us up!
Why do we feel like this? Sometimes it’s because we’re too busy looking inward, & forget to think about the world around us. Other times it’s because we’re dwelling on what we wish we had, as opposed to appreciating the many things we do have. Sometimes it’s just a case of boredom & malaise, but whatever the source of our unhappiness, there are lots of ways we can fix it!
Here are some of my thoughts. I asked my nonpareils on Twitter about their favourite ways to get happy too, & mixed them all together. I’d love to hear what you have to add!
“We either make ourselves miserable or we make ourselves happy. The amount of work is the same.”
Write yourself a recipe for a perfect day, & then make it happen.
Sometimes you really need to take time for yourself, & when you do, it should be as good as you can make it. We all have different ideas of what constitutes the ideal day, but it might be something like… Watch the Virgin Suicides while eating strawberry pancakes; take a long bath & re-read your favourite book; lie on the floor & wriggle around; eat ice-cream in bed & watch reality television; talk to your best friend on the telephone; have a long, blissful sleep. Whatever it is, put aside some time & make it real.
Watch the Shiba Inu puppy cam.
Real, live puppies! Wriggling on webcam for your viewing pleasure! Surely an unbeatable combination. Nothing can be that bad when the world is so full of cute!
Call a friend & reminisce over the good old days.
There’s something wonderful about doing this. All the ridiculous happenings, strange people you’ve encountered over the years & inside jokes come spilling down the phone line, leaving you both laughing & breathless. As well as remembering the funniest bits of your past, it gives you a new appreciation of where you are today, & how far you’ve both come.
Have a snugglefest.
Anyone & anything is fair game, from cats & dogs to boyfriends, stuffed animals or cashmere throws. Just hunker down & get cozy! Stay warm & have a daydream.
Clean your room like a wild banshee — then sit down & admire your work.
Cleaning up or tidying with loud music playing is pretty fun (are my Virgo roots showing?!), but it’s even better to flop down on your bed, exhausted, & delight in how good everything looks.
Load up one of your favourite music videos on Youtube & then try to learn the choreography.
You’ll be passed out with delirious laughter before long, I swear!
Plan a holiday.
Even if your bank account wouldn’t even begin to cover a holiday right now, you can always plan one in your head! Think about where you’d like to go & what you’d like to do. Camelback riding across a majestic desert? A tour of all the waterparks in America? 5 blissed-out days lying on your back beside a huge turquoise swimming pool? Whatever floats your boat, do some research, & start to make it real — even if you won’t take the actual holiday for years.
Spend quality time with a puppy.
If you don’t have one, ask if you can go see a friend who has one. A few minutes of chasing each other around, playing tug-of-war with a chewed-up piece of rope & some vigorous tail-wagging will have you feeling like new in no time. Plus, they’re so adorable before they grow into their oversized feet!
Experience a sunset.
Don’t just glance at it from your window — really experience it! Sit on a balcony or rooftop, take a blanket & a hot drink if you need to, & watch the colours in the sky change as the sun disappears. It’s a beautiful show put on by the universe every night, it’s 100% free & even better, you are always invited!
Get dressed up & go out!
Call a friend & organise an outing. It doesn’t have to be anything grand (unless you want it to be!), but just getting out of the house will make you feel so much better. Wear bright pink lipstick to the movies or wear heels & eat hamburgers. It’s a great way to get out a puddle of stagnant energy.
Even if you feel too exhausted to get through an entire session, just a few minutes will help bring you back to your centre & get you grounded again. If yoga isn’t your thing, try taking a few deep breaths. Concentrate on it as you do it. Go slowly. Breathe all the way into your stomach. Try to make the length of your inhale the same length as your exhale. As well as being a proven way to beat anxiety attacks, this is also a wonderful way to fall asleep if you’re having trouble — it works for me every time. You can read more about your best breath here.
It really is good for you, even if you don’t think you’re any good or don’t have any ideas. A great place to start is by writing, “Hi. I don’t really have anything to say.” Then just let yourself go. Allow yourself to vent, to dream, to be someone else. If you have a rad old typewriter, this is the perfect time to use it.
Go through your iTunes & organise the songs by the number of times played. Then listen to the songs you’ve never played before.
Every time I do this, I discover absolute gems. Right now, in fact, I’m listening to Knonam, who I had somehow never heard before, & it’s great! Alternatively, play all your favourite songs! Loud!
Jump on a trampoline.
As well as being fun & boosting your energy, it also helps to increase the circulation of your lymph system, circulates more oxygen throughout your body, slows down aging, helps prevent cardiovascular disease & provides roughly a billion other amazing health benefits. It really does help to elevate a bad mood, too.
Sign up for OKCupid.
I have a soft spot for OKCupid, as it has given me hours of entertainment & is, in fact, how I met The Dish! You can take tests, find compatible matches & even meet people if you want to get reeeeeally wild! Ha!
Get on your bicycle, grab the car-keys or catch a bus & go somewhere else. When you get there, spend some time walking around & looking at things. The travelling time will be good for your head, too. This is something Alain de Botton has written about — travelling helps to clear your head & reset your perspectives in a way nothing else can.
There are few things I enjoy more than leaning back in a swing, kicking my legs up & flying back & forth!
Rummage through the back of your closet & see what wonderful things have been stuffed back there & forgotten. Put on a pair of heels & see what new outfits you can come up with. It is absolutely true that wearing an outfit you feel good in boosts your confidence & level of happiness!
Do something good for somebody else.
Help Haiti, give blood, volunteer at an animal shelter, deliver meals on wheels, help at a soup kitchen, donate old clothing, spend time at a women’s shelter, get involved in your community or even just help your parents out. It’s one of the absolute best ways to get your mind off your own problems & open you up to what is really going on in the world.
Spend time in a used bookstore.
One of my favourite places! There’s nothing better than walking out with a stack of great books for less than $10!
Remove negative influences — no matter how small.
Fire your negative friend or most annoying client. Stop reading the magazines which make you feel bad about yourself. Ban yourself from checking your ex-boyfriend’s blog. Block the phone number of the person who only ever calls you to complain. You cannot imagine how much better you’ll feel!
Draw moustaches on the faces in magazines!
Hahaha. Thanks @CaitHagar!
Buy something fabulous & cheap.
I recently bought a this Swarovski crystal ring for less than $10 from Eternal Sparkles on eBay — major bling for minor cash. It’s cute & it makes me smile. Sometimes, retail therapy really does work!
Yes — kiss someone! Kissing causes the chemicals in your brain to change. It drops your levels of cortisol, which is a stress hormone, & increases the levels of oxytocin, which makes you feel good & gives you a feeling of connection.
Eat ice-cream & watch trashy television.
It sounds silly & overly simplistic but it really does work — at least for me! A tub of Ben & Jerry’s Half-Baked & some rubbish lined up makes for a great mental holiday. My favourite trashy fare? Paris Hilton’s My New BFF, Girls Next Door, Sex & The City, Entourage, Secret Diary Of A Call Girl, Skins, Top Model, Greek, Daisy Of Love, The Rachel Zoe Project, Say Yes To The Dress or Buffy. Perfect.
Stay overnight at your best friend’s place.
How long has it been since you had a same-sex sleepover? Too long I bet. There’s nothing better than a night of conversation, laughter & silliness with someone you adore.
Make yourself a super-healthy meal.
The feeling of accomplishment & knowledge that you’ve done something good for yourself is an almost unbeatable combination!
Concoct a special hot chocolate.
Add cinnamon, whipped cream, nutmeg, chili powder, candy canes, marshmallow… Make something special & delicious. Even better, make a huge Thermos & take it to work or school to share!
Flying around a rink at high speed with blades or wheels strapped to your feet is so much fun… & a big bruise on your booty can only be seen as a badge of bravery (& testament to how much fun you had)!
Slice up your fashion magazines & make a style collage.
From a candy pink pair of stilettos to a girl sitting in a gilded birdcage, take your favourite looks & mash them all together. Pin it up next to your wardrobe as extra inspiration when you get dressed in the morning, & let it serve as a reminder to try new things!
Watch a documentary about someone incredible.
If Lagerfeld Confidential, I’m Going To Tell You A Secret, Valentino: The Last Emperor or This Is It don’t inspire you to live life to the fullest, take control of your future & start changing things, nothing will!
Go wig shopping.
Take a friend & rock that wig parlour! You’ll both emerge with smiles on your faces, & hopefully a Marie Antoinette-inspired coif in your shopping bag!
Have a raucous karaoke session.
Drag someone along with you, hire a private room, & have a sing-off! Also, ask if your favourite karaoke place has a happy hour. A lot of them have lunchtime specials to get the punters in when it’s usually quiet. One of the best ways to spend your lunchbreak, for sure.
Pay someone to touch you.
Sounds weird, I know! But what I’m actually talking about is getting a massage, reflexology or even a really good pedicure. Sometimes having someone else touch you & take care of you is just what you need.
Start a new project.
I don’t think I am the only person who really enjoys beginning a new project. Everything is so full of promise & you can take it in any direction you like. It’s all creativity & experimentation all the time. What could be better?!
Get organised for the next week.
Work out what needs to be done, & get a head-start. Do your grocery shopping & laundry, plan social engagements, work out what you’re going to have for lunch. When you feel on top of your daily life, you feel more in control of everything else.
Learn to do something you’ve always wanted to.
From whistling with two fingers to learning how to talk dirty to working out if you’re a shaman or not, you can learn anything you like! The internet is a treasure-trove of information just waiting to be discovered, so don’t be shy! Get researching!
In public, out of tune, at the gym, wherever! If you feel like singing, you should just do it! Don’t be embarrassed & don’t allow the looks other people may shoot you stop you from doing what you want! I think singing in the morning should be an essential part of everyone’s day…
As in, the verb. The doing word! Talk to your plants, water them, re-pot them. Buy a new one. Or even go to a park & lie down on the grass. Getting up close with flowers & plants makes people feel good, which is why gardening is such a popular hobby.
Bonus points for skinny dipping or swimming in the grotto at the Playboy Mansion. (Have any of you ever done this?!)
There’s something about making a tangible object that is so satisfying. I am convinced that just moving your hands & using your brain in a different way is extremely good for your mental health. Bedazzle your cellphone, knit a sparkly scarf or make a little monster for a friend! It will shift the way you think & make you smile.
Draw pictures of all your friends & then post them out.
Even if it doesn’t come out very well, your friend will still be completely delighted to receive it. Who doesn’t want a picture of themselves drawn by someone who loves them?!
Research & read about the life of someone who improved the world in some way.
You’ll find out that everyone goes through hardships at one point or another. Nobody’s life is perfect, & if it was, how bored would we all be?! People have been through much more horrific things than you will ever experience, & still managed to triumph. Never lose hope.
Print pictures of you & your best friends, & put them all over your house.
There’s nothing better than reflecting on good times & smiling at goofy photos.
Invite a friend over for dinner.
It doesn’t have to be fancy. Even if you only eat fish & chips while sitting on the floor together, it’s still good company, it’s still a shared experience, & it’s good for the soul.
Read the best of Craigslist.
No explanation required.
Write a list of all the good things in your life.
Usually when we feel bad, it’s because we’re thinking about the things we don’t have as opposed to the plethora of things we do have. If you have a computer & can read this, you are already so much better off than most people in this world. Recalling everything you have to be grateful for is a foolproof way of improving your mood… which is why I do it every Thursday!
Dye your hair!
“I don’t know how to tell you this… But your hair looks like an easter egg!” Put a semi-permanent colour through your tresses. It’s inexpensive & won’t last long, which makes it a super-fun & easy way to change your appearance — at least for now!
Watch travel documentaries.
This is one of my favourite things to do, especially when it’s a documentary about India! It’s so easy to forget that life outside our own neighbourhood can be so fabulously different. A good travel documentary will amaze you, surprise you & remind you that there is a whole world out there just aching to be explored by you.
What’s your #1 favourite foolproof way of making yourself feel better when nothing seems to be going right? Tell us!