Being an adult can be hard. And if you’re naturally a more serious-type person like me, life can feel real heavy, real quick.
When you’re handling an ongoing life challenge, struggling under the weight of it all can start to take its toll physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Maybe you received an unexpected diagnosis, are caring for an aging parent, are parenting a difficult child, or are struggling with your finances.
Stress starts to pile up. Relief is nowhere in sight. Life loses its luster. You lose your joy.
It sucks, I know. But it doesn’t have to. At least not all the time.
When life starts to feel heavy, and you find yourself falling into super-serious mode, it’s time to pause. Give yourself a break from the heaviness of life.
Here are 3 easy ways to shift out of ‘serious’ energy and lighten up when life weighs you down
Change your thoughts
When my inner voice starts its tirade of “this is too hard, I can’t deal with anymore of this, I’m so tired, blah, blah, blah,” I know it’s time to step in and 1) honor my feelings, and then 2) change my thoughts.
When your inner dialogue constantly tells you you’re a victim of your circumstances, and you blindly believe it, you’re going to continue feeling terrible and helpless. If you want to feel better, you have to change your thoughts.
Personally, I’ve found there’s an easy way to quickly shift your mood. When you catch yourself thinking negative thoughts, stop. Picture this inner voice as a grumpy, fearful, sad little being. Then say or do something lighthearted and ridiculous to it in your mind. The goofier, the better.
For example, (and I can’t believe I’m sharing this), I give mine a big ol’ bear hug and, in a sing-song-y baby voice, praise it like it’s one of my cats: “Who’s a good boy? You’re a good boy! I love you I love you I love you…” It squirms and squirms and tries to get out of my clutches, but eventually gives in and hangs there like a wet noodle while I love it up till it shuts up. Works like a charm.
The goal is to interrupt the chatter and catch it so off-guard that it has no choice but to be quiet, maybe even crack a smile. Keep up the inner ridiculousness until you find yourself actually smiling.
Do something childlike
I listen to the Disney station on Pandora when I need a break from adulting. Don’t judge me. It’s awesome. It’s awesome for many reasons, but particularly because it triggers my inner child to come out and play. If I have a bad day, I blast the music and sing along while chopping veggies for dinner or doing the dishes.
Doing something that you loved to do as a kid can help break you out of a funk. The key is to let yourself actually do it.
Grab an adult coloring book (I have several, and they are also awesome). Go to a park and enjoy the swings. Cartwheel through a sprinkler in your front yard. Run around the house naked screaming “Naked baby! Naked baby!” It doesn’t matter what it is. Let your inner child run your life for an hour, at least once a week. It’ll help balance out the heaviness you feel most of the time.
Find the humor
My first pregnancy ended in a missed miscarriage. Not only did we lose the baby, but my body still thought I was pregnant weeks after the baby had died. Surgery was required to remove the little bundle of love that we’d dreamed about for years. Talk about heavy.
In the moment, there was absolutely nothing funny about this horrible situation. I was devastated, heartbroken, furious, confused, and depressed for months.
Looking back, however, there’s one moment that now always makes me laugh.
After the surgery was finished, I was left in a hospital bed to wake up from the general anesthesia. My husband, Matt, sat by my side, watching and waiting.
As the drugs wore off, I started to stir.
Still in la-la land, and not aware of what I was doing, I whispered a solitary word to him.
Not “Hi,” or “Is it all over?”
If there was ever a time to eat your feelings, apparently this was it. My subconscious wanted Matt to be damn sure I got a spicy baja blackbean burger as soon as we escaped from hospital hell.
This simple unexpected word lightened the load not only in the moment but anytime I now think back to that experience. It’s a bright spot in an otherwise dark memory. It’s a moment that continues to bring me joy when the seriousness of infertility threatens to bring me down into a deep abyss of sadness.
It taught me that humor, even during the most challenging situations, is a miracle healer. It knocks you out of negativity so that, even just for a moment, you can feel relief from your pain. If you let it, humor can remind you that pain isn’t all there is.
So try to find one thing you can laugh about in your current situation.
Set seriousness aside and let the light in.
If I can do it, you can too. It takes intention, self-awareness, and practice, but it can be done. I believe in you.
Now go tell your drama-loving inner voice to sit on a cactus.