Try: Telling Yourself a Pump-Up Story (with Soundtrack)

rockydown.jpg

When I truly need mojo...I put on the Rocky 4 soundtrack. According to a highly unscientific poll I conducted (with friends and acquaintances born in the 70s), this Cold War Rocky made a strong impression on many people who continue even to the present day to dip into "Hearts on Fire" or "Burning Heart" as needed.

Rocky 4 was not high on subtlety.

Rocky 4 was not high on subtlety.

Listening to Eye of the Tiger -- which was originally released in Rocky 3 and then "recycled" in Rocky 4, Wikipedia notes -- doesn't only make fans like me recall a heated Man vs Machine showdown, or an unparalleled training montage (and yes, you should watch all 7 minutes of this video):

It also harkens back to the story of a young and poor Sylvester Stallone trying to sell his script. A born underdog with a paralyzed face, Stallone managed to sell the script and himself to the studio.

(The backstory is up for debate. This 1979 New York Times profile tells one story. Snopes suggests there's another.)

I use the young Stallone chutzpah as a lever to help myself out of rejections and failures. I slap an abbreviated Rocky 4 onto Spotify -- there really are only 5 songs worth listening to -- and imagine myself running through the snows of Siberia. Yeah, I can face the job search again. If Rocky can chop massive firewood with a beard, I can do this.

Feel free to use Rocky as needed, or think back to a story that pushes you back into mojo. Preferably it includes music too. Then watch your fortunes turn around.

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Try: Changing Your Body Temperature

Henri Matisse, Seated Woman, Back Turned to the Open Window, 1922.

Henri Matisse, Seated Woman, Back Turned to the Open Window, 1922.

I've found that when I'm stuck in cyclical thinking, or just feeling stuck changing my body temperature actually makes a difference. A hot bath is one way to go, but lately I've been finding a cool breeze is often what I need most.

Try removing a layer of clothing or opening a window when you're stuck in your thoughts. It’s simple, but it actually helps bring you back into the moment. The goal is getting grounded. Changing your body temperature helps.

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Try: Mixing A Nature Soundtrack

Shack rain, calm fire, and beach rushing water, though unlikely, could be your actual soundtrack.

Shack rain, calm fire, and beach rushing water, though unlikely, could be your actual soundtrack.

I like Moodil because you can wait for the bad weather in your head to pass by creating your own mood-perfect nature soundtrack.

I tend to like the meadow nighttime sounds (as shown by the moon and stars) along with a calm fire and thunderstorm. But who cares what I like? Experiment your way into a relaxed background while cooking, working, or falling asleep.

I use the desktop version but Moodil is an app, so it's meant to be used on phones.

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Try: Spritzing!

Everyone loves a spritz.

Everyone loves a spritz.

About a year ago, a friend gave me a fancy makeup gift that included this great "mist" that prepares fancy people's skin for fancy makeup. Since I am neither fancy nor a makeup person (unless forced, like a little boy in a Sunday suit), I ended using the mist more than everything else. I realized the cooling feeling of water on my skin along with the gentle smells would distract and change my thinking. It's almost like a mental Pavlovian trick. You don't need to buy this mist to get it to work. I bet even rosewater in a little spray bottle would work. 

This is where you can find  mine , but others work just as well, I'm sure.

This is where you can find mine, but others work just as well, I'm sure.

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Try: Cooking One Day of Healthy Meals

healthy stress relief

Breakfast

  1. A fast, dairy-free, high fiber Coconut Chia Seed Pudding by Din's Emily Olson LaFave

  2. Put 2 tablespoons of chia seeds into a jar with a sealable lid.

  3. Add 1/2 can of coconut milk (7 oz) and shake well.

  4. Wait 20-30 minutes for the seeds to expand.

  5. Top with nuts, seeds, fruits and serve.

healthy lunch

Lunch

Farro + Kale Salad by A Beautiful Mess's Emma Chapman

  1. Boil 2 cups farro in 4 cups of salted water for 20 minutes.

  2. Drain, rinse in cold water, and set aside.

  3. Chop leaves of kale into small pieces and massage with olive oil to soften.

  4. Chop a cucumber into very small pieces.

  5. Combine farro, kale, and cucumber with some sunflower seeds and cranberries in large bowl. Coat with some olive oil.

  6. Make dressing by combining 3 tbsp balsamic vinegar and 1 tbsp honey.

  7. Dress salad and season with salt as needed. Makes 6 servings.

Dinner

We roast a lot of chickens in our house. That sounded violent. Let me say it another way. Perhaps a nice roasted chicken with a side of veggies for dinner?

We do this often because it's actually really easy. It makes the house smell great, and you get really useful leftovers. 

My approach, in sentence form: Put fennel, multi-colored carrots, broccoli, or other root vegetables under a dry chicken in a baking dish. Bake at 475 for around an hour. The veg act as a rack as well as making the whole thing a one-pan dish. 

If you're more comfortable with a step-by-step, go with the Molly Ringwald chicken I linked to above, or Gabi Moskowitz's 3rd date chicken. Both will treat you right.

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Try: Taking a Bath with a Podcast

listen to podcast.jpg

Reminder: these are good things, both together or separately. If you're lucky enough to have the time, why not become happy woman with her massive headphones & bubbles? 

Also, books are always there, ready to change out your mind's broken record. Here's a novel recommendation if nothing's coming to mind: The Brothers Sisters by Patrick Dewitt. Man, was that a great book.

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Try: Taking a Walk

Easier said than done. But just getting up and going for a 10 minute walk can melt the snowball a bit.

The Human app helps you to be active for 30 minutes a day and tells you if you've hit that 10 min walk level with a pretty design. I find that having a small goal--just go to the library--can get me out of the house, and that's what it takes to start feeling better.

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Try: Making a Playlist

make a playlist

I find that getting immersed in a project helps switch my mind out of the overthinking mode and into a feeling of flow.  My wish: that it were possible to attach cover art to the music I'm putting together to create a mood, the way we used to back in the 80s/90s. If that were easy to do on Spotify or Apple Music, I'd recommend that you create art on an app called LogoScopic. That's fun to do anyway, why not? It gets you creating.

If you don't feel like making a playlist, fear not. You could give this one a tryIt's the OFFICIAL Beautiful Voyager playlist. I'm psyched about it.

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Try to: Seek Out Art

art

Nearly every book about meditation, mindfulness, and anxiety says the same thing: Bear in mind that you're not alone. It's a hard thing to feel, though. Does reading these words on the page from me, or even knowing I've felt some of the things you have, really make you feel less alone?  This is where art like music, reading, or theater help (at least, those are the things that help me--everyone is different). In the past, I've pushed them down the priority list. Putting this on the list is a way of saying: for me, art is key to turning down the volume knob on anxiety. 

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