Your Everyday Guide to Sanity.
“You know those days when you get the mean reds? The mean reds are horrible. Suddenly you’re afraid, and you don’t know what you’re afraid of… The only thing that does any good is to jump in a cab and go to Tiffany’s.” ~ Holly Golightly, Breakfast at Tiffany’s
We all have those days. Days when the mean reds rise up inside and spill over into our atmosphere, coloring the entire day with cardinal, carmine and crimson.
Or days when the blues rain down from cobalt clouds, spilling slow sapphire showers. We all experience the ups and downs of the authentic life, but we can’t all catch a cab to Tiffany’s.
So… what do you do on those days?
Having dealt with the mean reds since I learned my colors, I’ve had ample occasion to try some things out. Some days I find the best I can do is add a touch of green as a complementary color, instead of trying to repaint the whole canvas into a rainbow.
In my efforts to repaint my days into something a bit more pleasing to the mind’s eye, I have found that a stockpile of varied tools — plenty of paintbrushes, palettes, pastels and pencils — is essential. Having an arsenal of armaments and art supplies can help add a splash of color to those monochromatic days.
In case your arsenal is running low, or if you’ve not yet accumulated enough effective armaments, I offer you the following magic color change tips to help turn your day around.
When you find the combinations and compositions that work for you, rest assured, my beautiful open-hearted human, you will find those days become fewer, farther between and much easier to forge through.
1.Write it out!
The simple act of putting pen to paper can be extremely liberating when it comes to dealing with a hard day. I have had more than a few days colored by fear, anger, sadness, jealousy and regret. In those days, I find I can leave my troubles behind by writing.
Expressing in words those things that are troubling me often lends an air of objectivity to the issue at hand. A letter, a list, a poem, an essay… each is an act of release, an act of putting your colors on the page.
When, and if, you revisit what you’ve written, you may find a rainbow reaching out from behind the clouds.
2. Dance, sing, play.
I’ve had a song swimming in my head since the moment I opened my ears.
Music allows us to express, enhance, exhort and embrace our emotions.
Let the music flow from your limbs, legs, hands, feet and fingertips. From your heart to your lungs, throat, lips. Feel your soundtrack tingling up through the crown of your head as you tap in.
Music has evolved along side humanity for thousands of years, reflecting our deepest depths, highest heights and everything in between. Use it as your muse, and let your spirit soar.
3. Tell someone your story.
Chances are, there is someone out there who is willing to listen. Someone safe, who cares about how you feel. Chances are, they have felt the way you are feeling, or they will at some point. If they cannot help you understand, they may at least lend an ear for a few minutes.
If you are lucky enough, you may find not only a willing ear, but a mouth wise enough to tell you something helpful, such as “… this isn’t something you did. This is something that happened.” Huh. There may be something to that.
If you experience those days more often than you’d like, or if you have a hard time finding someone to listen, check out this link for resources in the U.S. that may be helpful.
4. Have a good cry.
Crying, though sometimes viewed as a sign of weakness, is actually a healthy body process. Tears carry toxins away from the body and kill harmful bacteria. When based on an emotional response, tears release powerful chemicals such as prolactin, stress hormones, and endorphins.
It’s okay to have a cry, it really can make you feel better. Tears also cleanse and lubricate the eyes, resulting in improved visual clarity. And, really, what could be better on those days than the strength that results from enhanced clarity and vision?
5. Recall moments of strength.
Speaking of strength, take time to reconnect with those days when you demonstrated resolve, determination, steadfastness… and let yourself consciously remember what your body, mind, and spirit felt like in those moments.
Bring those instances to your current awareness and sit with them. Let them build you back up.
You are strength and wisdom incarnate, my stardust warrior! Arise!
6. Take a walk.
Move yourself, and let yourself be moved. Let the natural world take you back in. Rest in your Mother’s arms for awhile, enjoying the sun on your face and the call of birds in your ears.
Become grounded again with the earth beneath your feet. Sometimes spinning out of control just means that you have lost your footing. Which is okay. It is one way to gain ground and put your foot down somewhere new. Make a new path.
7. Cleanse yourself.
Take a long hot bath. Take a cold shower. Take a swim. Stand in the rain. Water is your friend—you are primarily composed of it, after all. And a good cleanse is… well… cleansing.
While you’re at it, drink a couple of large glasses of water…your body needs it, especially if you went with #4 on the list.
8. Find your core.
My core is my body. It roots me and holds me to this life. As much as my mind and spirit affect me, I am neither of these without my body.
Yoga connects me to my core… to my body. Yoga is one of the most beneficial activities you can give your body. Yoga leads to enhanced strength, lower stress and an actualized sense of serenity.
Find your core, connect to it, and use it to guide the movements of your body, mind and spirit.
Allow me to re-introduce you to the phrase laughter is the best medicine. Like crying, laughing is healthy. Endorphins and dopamine levels increase as a result of laughter. Laughing boosts the immune system, reduces stress, relieves muscle tension, and improves circulation.
Take a break from the mean reds or the blues to find something that makes you laugh. Read the comics. Watch a video of your favorite stand-up comedian. Watch children play, or even better, play with children!
One of my favorite laugh inciters, which is ridiculously simple and completely free, is the following: repeat one word over and over and over and over and over again until it is hilarious. Seriously, have you ever said fork 100 times? It dissolves into a group of sounds that make little to no sense. So do our problems when we let them.
Your powers to create are much greater than you know…until you begin to use them, at which point they become boundless. By reaching into yourself and using what you find there, you can reconnect with the basic principles of the universe to re-create your universe.
A broken heart does not consist of holes. A heart breaks open in order to be whole.
Opening up to the heart allows for its light and energy to reconnect to its origins. Use your open heart to expand and grow your world. Let your heart become whole by tapping into its creative nature. Pour your heart into your projects — your powers of creation are endless.
Even Picasso had the blues for a while…
11. Stop ruminating.
Replaying your pains, fears, longings, losses and letting them swirl into hurricanes within your heart and head does no good. Stop it. There is no changing the past. There is no telling the future.
Stop replaying your story in your head. Stop playing out future scenarios you cannot know. There is no peace in should’ve, would’ve, could’ve. Stop. Pay attention, instead, to Now.
If you have a hard time with #11, try meditating. I have been meditating for about five years, and though I am far from rigorous with my efforts, I have found that meditation practice is, itself, the culmination of effort. Developing the ability to sit quietly can bring peace to a difficult day.
One of the greatest benefits I’ve reaped through my meditation practice is the ability to quiet my mind. Using basic shamatha techniques, I can quiet my thoughts and reside in a state of calm abiding.
There are many great books, courses, teachers and instructions for introducing meditation into your life. A favorite reference of mine is the book Meditation: The Buddhist Way Of Tranquility And Insight by Kamalashila, which outlines shamatha, metta and other basic meditation techniques. A great secular resource also exists in the Mindfulness Based Stress Relief program pioneered by Jon Kabat-Zinn, which is appropriate to all faiths and ages.
13. Hug someone.
Embrace the nearest living animal to you. Dog, cat, child, spouse, stranger — if you dare! If there is no one near you, hug yourself. Wrap your arms around your own shoulders and give a squeeze.
Hold yourself tightly, cradle yourself. Rest in your own embrace and be reassured by your own warmth. Love makes the world go round — love for yourself included.
14. Be compassionate.
Be compassionate to yourself. Be compassionate with your thoughts about those persons, events and circumstances that led you to this day. If someone hurt you, chances are they are hurting themselves.
There is no better way that I have found to let loose my own troubles than by holding others with compassion and loving kindness. This can be difficult, to say the least. But it is worth it. It frees the heart from hurt by acknowledging the fragility of each one of us.
Handling others with care, even in your thoughts and wishes, is essential to moving towards a more loving and connected world, and can often turn the mean reds into a mellow mauve.
15. Express gratitude.
There is a good deal of truth to the saying ‘It could be worse’. It could. Find those things in your life that are going well, and be thankful for them. Do you have food and clean water to drink? Start there. That is something to be thankful for.
Are your basic needs met? Are you clean and warm? Express some gratitude for your basic comforts. Then move on…to your lessons, your talents, your support systems. Take a moment to thank the Universe for all it has given you. Gratitude is healing.
Gratefulness can expand your narrow view of red and blue into the visions of bright white light that fill us all.
16. Clear away the clutter.
I have found that my inner world often mirrors my outer environment. When my home is cluttered, my mind is often cluttered as well. On really red days, I clean out my closets and cupboards, removing those items that are no longer needed or wanted.
Take some time to get rid of the things that are in your way. Grab your mop bucket or your feather duster, turn up the music, and wipe away the cobwebs that are hanging around. Wash the windows and mirrors so that you may see yourself and your world more clearly.
Wipe away all obscuration, paying attention to the cracks, crevices and corners—those are where the deepest delusions lie.
Give something away. This is a good follow up to #16 (clearing the clutter), as you may find yourself with a garage full of clutter when you are done with your clearing. It is also a natural consequence of #15 (expressing gratitude), as gratitude often leads to thoughts of the less fortunate.
We live in a confusing world that is characterized by excesses and deficiencies living side by side. What greater way to find balance, both within and without, than to give of oneself for the benefit of others. Whether you give away your treasures or your time, the result will be beneficial to all involved.
19. Avoid intoxicants.
Simply put, bourbon rarely makes a bad day better. Trust me on this one.
Take a break. Have a cup of tea. Take a nap. It’s okay to check out for a bit. And when you wake, pull back the curtains, open the blinds and let the sun shine in.
“Every now and then go away, have a little relaxation,
for when you come back to your work, your judgement will be surer;
since to remain constantly at work will cause you to lose power of judgment.” ~ Leonardo da Vinci
21. Distract yourself.
If you simply must… then, by all means, hop in the cab and head for Tiffany’s! While avoidance can be detrimental over the long haul, a healthy distraction can be good medicine, especially when facing a significant hardship.
Shortly after the death of my beloved husband, I feared for my eldest, as my child seemed less affected by the loss we were experiencing than I would have imagined. I assumed I was witnessing my child’s avoidance of the issue of his death, as demonstrated by the inclination to continually fill time with friends, games, parties, books, and social activities.
On one occasion, while languishing in my own pain and simultaneously trying to determine if my child was on a path of effective coping, I asked a simple question. “How do you maintain your carefree attitude amidst the loss of your dad?” My Wise Child simply told me, “I distract myself.” My child was not ignoring the issue, had not forgotten or blocked out the obvious loss of the father from our home, family and lives. My child was not denying his death, but simply choose not to focus on it every moment of everyday.
My eldest chose, instead, to find activities, people and places that allowed for a break from the difficulty of the loss. A Wise Child, indeed, had he penned this piece, it may have included only this tidbit. For many of the other armaments in my arsenal boil down to just this.
Distract yourself. It’s okay not to give those days more attention than they deserve.
22. Let it be.
Step back, set down your paintbrushes and just have a look at your canvas. So… maybe this day’s color scheme is not a bright sunny yellow. This day’s composition is not a walk in the park or a sailboat on calm seas. Regardless of the subject matter or color scheme…
You are a work of art! Some days the colors get muddled and the paint goes every which way… but these, too, can be happy accidents. From different perspectives, different colors stand out. The truth is… all of your colors are beautiful, and together, they combine themselves into the most fantastic masterpiece of all: You.