THE 7 POWER-SKILLS
1. Thought Shifting
Most of us aren't even aware how often we worry or think about things that keep us in a bad mood. It's like Muzak in an elevator we've gotten used to. Women are especially prone to rumination, a type of thinking that keeps you stuck in a bad mood. (Take the quiz, "Are You A Ruminator?") The problem begins when we believe thoughts are facts. Become your own lawyer. With the help of Thought-Shifting, you put your thoughts on trial and cross-examine them. "Is it true I'll always be alone?" or "How do I know for sure I'll never find a better job?
Did you know that 96% of the time, you can predict how a conversation will end by watching how it starts. If you start with a criticism like, "Gee it must be nice to sit around the house while I clean," you'll probably end up with a fight. Instead, first calm yourself. Why? If your heart rate is more than 100 beats per minute, you won't have a helpful discussion. Next, describe how you feel about the situation like, "I'm really overwhelmed by all there is to do here, and I'd like us to work on it together."
3. Mindfulness Training
People often think meditation is difficult or time-consuming. It's neither. It's just a matter of bringing all your attention to one thing. like your breath, and noticing it without judging it as good or bad. This simple act, practiced regularly, can change your moods. When I taught women at UCLA to meditate, many were amazed at how much happier they felt, even though their busy lives hadn't changed at all. Scientists are now learning that a regular meditation practice can literally rewire your brain for happiness. Click here for a sample meditation.
4. Emotional Writing
Writing about your bad feelings can change them. People who write about their deepest emotions when they are upset are less depressed and more positive about life than before their writing. Getting your upsetting thoughts on paper can help get rid of them. As one woman told me, "It's like taking out the trash." But to get a boost from emotional writing, you must follow specific guidelines. Click here for an emotional writing guide.
5. Physical Movement
When you move your body, you can change you moods. I call movements that shift your emotions, "Emotional Exercise." It can take many forms like: dancing, yoga, running, even walking your dog. Unlike exercise to improve your heart health or lose weight, you only need to move for 10 to 20 minutes to get an emotional boost.
Having someone to confide in when you've had a tough day is not only great for your emotions, but it's also great for your health. People who make time to help and be helped by family and friends age more slowly than people who don't. And you don't need an army of support to reap the benefits; just one person will do. Stay connected with people you care about. Go to a movie with your mate, email a friend, or help a neighbor. Want more connection? Click here to find out how to start an Emotional Toolkit Discussion Group.
Psychotherapy can be a powerful part of your Emotional Toolkit. If you feel bad no matter what you do (maybe you've talked with friends or tried other emotional tools), or your unhappiness is interfering with your life (performing your job, taking care of your kids), you may want to talk with a therapist. Studies show that most people who go to therapy say they're less anxious and depressed and have better relationships than those with similar problems who don't go to therapy.