Last week I was in a total funk – after a week of fourteen hour days spent trying to get a new design working I had to cut my losses and revert every single change. It was a mix of trying to implement something a little too ambitious and being stuck with a large, relatively inflexible codebase that wasn’t receptive to the loving embrace of my new ideas. At any rate, it put me in a miserable mood. Let’s put things in perspective though – millions of people survive with no clean water on a pittance every day so whinging about some code that didn’t work is akin to complaining my big bag of gold bricks is too heavy. Boo hoo Dave.
My whinging aside, I thought I’d share a few ideas for dragging oneself out of a miserable mood and getting back to productive work/play/creativity/whatever-it-is-you-do.
– “The body is the outermost layer of the mind“. There is a wide body of research linking regular exercise to improved mood. Trying to pull off someone’s arms (in a friendly way) works pretty well for me, but any sort of activity that gets your heart rate up a little bit can really improve your disposition. Exercise clears the mind, lets you sleep better, reduces anxiety and depression, and can introduce to new friends.
Motivational videos and articles
– If you’re feeling sorry for yourself or just in need of inspiration, there are plenty of fantastic articles on the web that will reframe the circumstances you’re in and help put things in perspective.
The story of Dick and Rick Hoyt – The father who competes in triathlons and marathons with his quadriplegic son.
Randy Pausch’s Last Lecture – A dying man’s wisdom to his family, an inspirational story which has touched millions.
Any keynote speech by Gary Vaynerchuk – Gary works ridiculously hard, and brings passion and endless enthusiasm to his presentations.
Get to bed and sleep
– Admittedly this is going to sound obvious, but I’m a big believer in letting your subconscious mind take care of intractable problems. Have a nice glass of wine, watch something mindless on TV or read some light fiction and go to bed early. I find that I usually wake up with a new perspective on a problem or a handy solution that my brain has figured out which I was catching zees.
Get to bed and don’t sleep
– Alternatively, find someone attractive and go to bed with and don’t sleep for a while. While strenuous exercise releases endorphins (natural happy-chemicals) into the blood stream, so does sex. (Caveat: If the reason you’re miserable is because you have nobody to go to bed with, skip this step perhaps… ).
Consider the silver lining
– Every problem has an upside, no matter how slight. Take a moment to reflect on what the problem you’re facing has taught you, and then think about what’s important in your life. Don’t waste energy getting frustrated about things that aren’t that important, and don’t obsess about things you can’t change or have no control over. If you focus on the things that you can change, then taking even the smallest steps towards fixing the problems will have a great effect on your mood.
What are your favourite ways of dealing with stress and anxiety?