In this Episode
I’ve wondered about how good it’s possible to feel for a long time.
Several years ago, I felt lower than low. My moods were erratic. I was tired all the time and I felt like my life was spiralling out of control. Now I don’t feel that way anymore – or at least, I don’t feel that way very much of the time. I still have days like that but they are single days or possible two days back to back but that’s generally it.
What I’m curious about is whether or not it’s possible to go up a notch from here. I’m also curious about what that might involve.
This episode is the start of my exploration. Is it possible to bounce out of bed and have loads of energy all day? Is it possible to feel motivated, focused, happy and strong almost permanently? Is it possible to maintain control of your thoughts and emotions consistently? And if it is, what does it take? These are questions I’ll be answering later in the series but in this episode, I wanted to share with you the 5 habits or practices that have taken me from feeling erratic to feeling calm and from feeling depressed to feeling balanced and content most of the time.
If you are at the start of your self-development journey or you’re at the point where you struggle with depression or unwanted low moods, this episode could help.
5 Tips to help you feel better
1. Minimise or ditch alcohol
If you’re where I was 2 years ago, that’s not what you want to hear but I promise you, it will make the world of difference.
When I was drinking, I didn’t realise the chemical effects of alcohol on my moods. I didn’t realise that feeling good required a series of chemical reactions in my body and that alcohol interfered with those chemical reactions – ultimately leading me to feel bad enough to want a drink so I’d feel better.
Removing alcohol from everyday life turned out to be a game changer for me. My moods stabilised and I felt as though I was in charge of my mind rather than being a slave to it.
The process of giving up was long and, at times, difficult but if I can do it, you can too – and if you need help or want to talk about your situation, let’s book a call and have a chat.
2. Cultivate a stillness practice
One of the most wonderful gifts you can give yourself is learning the ability to access the part of you that is calm no matter what.
If someone had told me such a place existed within me a few years ago, I’d have laughed. Nothing about me was calm. I was hot-tempered, reactive and very easy to fire up.
Having learned to cultivate stillness, I have found that place and can often find it even when things are going crazy around me.
Stillness practices include meditation, breathing exercises and mindfulness practices. Which is best? The one you stick to. Just pick one you enjoy and do it every day – or more than once a day in some cases.
3. Cultivate the things you want
This is about shifting from a problem-solving mindset to an abundance mindset where you begin to attract into your experience the things you most want.
For example, I worry and get stressed about my relationship with my daughter. She was 7 years old when I met her and she is almost 12 now. I worry that our connection isn’t strong enough to see us through the teen years in a way that keeps her safe and ensures she becomes an adult who feels worthy of love.
Thinking this way draws my attention to all the times I get it wrong and then I feel worse. When I feel worse, I retreat. No connection when I retreat.
So I’ve learned to switch things. Instead, I ask, “How would I like to contribute to this relationship? How would I like the relationship to feel?” When I have the answers, I go about cultivating those things.
I learn more about how to connect with children who have experienced early life trauma. I learn about myself and my own triggers and I learn to manage them. I make decisions in the moment that allow me to connect with my daughter rather than take her for granted or push her away. And when things go off course, I notice a lot earlier because the feelings I’m aiming to cultivate disappear.
When you’re focused on the problem, things feel bad so you don’t always notice when they get worse. When you focus on cultivating what you want to experience, you’re far more likely to course correct early.
4. Pay attention to your gut
In my efforts to understand depression and anxiety and to help free myself and my clients from their clutches, every road has led me back to the gut.
That’s why cutting alcohol made a difference – chemical reactions in the gut were altered and that changed how the other systems operated.
This is a HUGE subject and will require several podcasts episodes to cover but for now, the rules of gut health are simple.
- Eat whole foods
- Eat local, seasonal and organic
- Minimise or cut out alcohol
- Cut out processed foods – if it has an ingredients list, don’t eat it.
These rules are great in theory but I still struggle to stick to them. This is the rule I’m hoping to investigate in later episodes – how strict to we have to be and how much difference does it actually make? How good is it possible to feel if you do all of this?
5. Lean into discomfort with curiosity
Admittedly I could have worded that better.
This habit involves being curious about your uncomfortable experiences – the difficult emotions, situations where you get defensive, times when you feel the need to eat, drink or shop your way out of a tough feeling, and all the other times you experience discomfort.
When you approach these experiences with curiosity and you learn to accept all your feelings, it’s amazing how much you can learn about yourself and how much you can learn. And the more you learn about yourself, the more steps you take towards feeling better.
Next week, I’ll share some of my tips for reducing or quitting alcohol as this can have such dramatic benefits for your wellbeing.