Hey, as a cancer survivor, I’ve been there. We’ve ALL been there.
Fighting cancer is a full-time job
Sometimes it’s difficult to maintain a positive attitude. Add the stress of Covid, the ongoing mask controversy, an upcoming Presidential election, partisan fury, riots, looting and protests across the country… sigh. Is it any wonder we can’t get relief?
I have found what works for me as an attitude booster, and I’m going to give it to you straight. It takes real effort and concentrated determination to switch it up (turmoil for peace), but it’s possible and doable. It’s up to you, because here’s the thing…
Happiness is an inside job!
So, here are tools I use to boost my attitude and keep from sliding down that slippery slope. You know when it’s happening, so be wise and head those feelings off at the start. If one thing doesn’t work, try another. The key is to follow through. Works every time.
Listen to Music
When I’m in a funk I tend to go for Christian music, and here’s why. When you don’t feel much like praying, the music becomes your prayers. It’s a subliminal thing. As you listen to song after song, one will hit you, catch your attention, and your spirit is in agreement even if your mind isn’t. Soon you find yourself tapping your foot, maybe even singing along. There have been many times when I turned to music in despair and wound up twirling around dancing and even laughing at myself. I have also been moved to get to my feet and lift my arms high in praise. Even thankfulness! You just never know where music will take you, but if God is involved, you can be pretty sure it’s in an upward direction.
I listen to lots of genres of music, not just Christian, depending on my mood. Classical, jazz, country, pop, oldies, mellow, take your pick. Music is proven to have a tremendously relaxing effect on our minds and bodies. The type of music we listen to can actually slow our pulse and heart rate, even lower blood pressure. Upbeat music can lift your mood and make you feel happier, more optimistic. It’s even been known to help manage pain by activating sensory pathways that compete with pain pathways in the brain by stimulating emotional responses and engaging your mind. Don’t underestimate the power of music.
Before you get all huffy, I realize some of you aren’t able to exercise. But most of us can move in some way unless bedridden. I remember the days when to walk the hospital corridor was an overwhelming task, but I determined to do it. Then I walked to my next-door neighbor’s house, then three houses away, then to the corner. I built my stamina, not because I felt like it, but it beat sitting on the sofa feeling sorry for myself.
Exercise is the next step. It increases your overall health and sense of well-being. It pumps up your endorphins (your brain’s feel-good neurotransmitters). Being stressed and worrisome consumes energy and we need that energy to focus on health. You don’t have to become a runner and do marathons. You don’t have to join weightlifting competitions, join a climbing club or swim laps. Pick something you enjoy; bike riding, swimming, yoga, gardening… the key is you have to enjoy it so when you’re feeling down, it doubles as a mental escape. It’s recommended to do 30 minutes a day, and here’s more good news. Pop in some earbuds and get a two-for-one by listening to your favorite music at the same time.
Read a Good Book
There is nothing like getting lost in a good book. It’s way better than watching a movie or inane television because you get totally absorbed in the story. Your mind is engaged as you place yourself there. Your imagination is involved as you conjure up the characters. Your emotions are kindled because you care about what happens.
I am a voracious reader, and I thank my father for that. As a kid, our television needed repair and he refused to get it fixed for 4 years. You read that correctly, 4 years! He said, “No more TV, read a book”. So we all read, and If we asked for the definition of a word, his response was always, “look it up”. I thank him for that parenting, and to this day, the dictionary app on my phone is my best friend.
Take a Walk
Now in this instance, I am talking about just that, taking a leisurely walk. Go to a nearby park or nature center. Walk around a nursery and admire the flowers. Walk around the neighborhood and look at the sky, chat with a neighbor, listen to the sound of kids laughing as they play outside, stop at a ball field and watch the game.
This is about enjoying the moment. Take yourself out of your house, out of your environment and enjoy the simple but extraordinary gifts God put in front of you. The flowers in a neighbor’s yard, the smell of tomatoes growing on a vine, the bees buzzing and the birds chirping. Focus on the sounds and the smells of everyday life, the part we forget when we are obsessing over the “what if’s”?
You won’t feel like doing this but will be happy you did.
Help Someone Else in Need
This is the best one yet.
Did you know that when you help someone else, you are really helping yourself? That isn’t your motivation, of course, but that’s how it works anyway. Helping someone else doesn’t just make the world better, it makes you better. It makes you happier, especially when you see the positive results you’ve made in someone else’s life. It gives you a sense of purpose and satisfaction; a day well spent; a job well done.
Also, when you see and hear what someone else is going through, it gives you perspective. You realize the world doesn’t revolve around you and your problem isn’t unique or even the worst problem to have.
Once again, I learned this from my dad, who had two different types of brain tumors and went through three brain surgeries. He would walk around the hospital and visit other patients in their rooms for a chat, come out and say to my mom “I’m so glad I don’t have his problem”. That example of perspective stuck with me years later when I faced my own cancer battle. There is always someone else worse off than you are.
So, reach out and help someone else with their issue. It’s sure to come back and bless you in unexpected ways.
The next time you need to boost your attitude, do your loved ones (and yourself) a favor and give one of these 5 ways a try. Fight the blues! Go on the offense and get out of that funk! They are all tried and proven to work every time.