The other day I was feeling out of sorts. Every misstep—big or small—placed a weight on my psyche that I wasn’t able to shake off. I hadn’t slept well for a couple of nights. I found out I didn’t get yet another job since we relocated. And I didn’t have a plan for dinner (seemed like a really big deal at the time).
As I went through the motions of my daily routine, everything was forced, and I wasn’t productive. Still, I needed to complete some things whether I was “feeling it” or not. In this frame of mind, I needed to rethink, re-read, and redo most of my tasks. Egad!
When I paused in the midst of this frustration, I heard my inner voice say: Go outside and move. Not feeling like I had time for such luxuries, I put my head down and tried to power through. My results continued to be less than stellar and, again, the voice poked at me… Get up and do something.
Fine, I thought. It isn’t like I’m accomplishing much here.
I put on my sneakers and headed out for a walk. This felt forced in the beginning, too. My legs felt heavier than normal—still wrapped up in my misfortunes. Determined, I put one foot in front of the other and focused on where I was going.
As my legs loosened (and lightened) up, I moved more quickly and my breathing deepened. With each deep breath, my brain chilled out a little more and my thinking became clearer. I saw that the job I didn’t get was one I didn’t want. While it would have been nice to cross that off my “to do” list, I would have dreaded every day.
Oh, that feels better.
Next, I moved right into why I hadn’t been sleeping well. My self-health reading showed me what I’d been doing differently. I hadn’t been prioritizing physical activity. We’d had some gatherings where I made questionable food choices. And, later nights had led to me ditching my normal bedtime routine. Still, sleep makes everything better, and optimizing it deserves to be a priority in my life.
Dinner came together as I visualized the refrigerator and pantry closet contents. The only requirement is that it be nourishing and properly prepared, right? It doesn’t have to be gourmet or inventive every time. When in doubt, go with an old standby that everyone always gobbles up. It’s amazing how a table full of finished plates can give your confidence a much-needed boost. (Revisiting one of my favorite kitchen tools, the weekly meal plan, will keep this task from seeming like a burden, too.)
By the time I arrived back at our front door, my psyche was feeling much lighter. After thanking my inner voice for its suggestion, I went about my day crossing tasks off my list much more efficiently.
Getting up and moving (exercising), has a brilliant way of shifting your mood and helping you think more clearly. According to researchers at the University of British Columbia, exercise tends to “reduce inflammation and stimulate the release of growth factors—chemicals in the brain that affect the health of brain cells, the growth of new blood vessels in the brain, and even the abundance and survival of new brain cells.”
The fact that it will improve your sleep and reduce your stress levels is nothing to brush under the rug either.
On a day when you’re having trouble seeing solutions, it can be difficult to convince yourself that “wasting time” exercising will help. But I encourage you to pick an activity you enjoy (e.g. dancing, jumping rope, playing hide-and-seek with your kids, kickboxing, yoga), and make it a priority for a week. Then take a look at how it has affected your mindset. Getting up and moving just might help shift your mood more than you expected.
Take the next step: Pair this with a nutrient-dense way of eating and you’ll be setting yourself up for a stronger, more resilient outlook on life.
Image from iStock/x-reflexnaja.