I don’t know why I’m typing this method up so early in this series, since I don’t use it as often as many of the others, but it was on my mind, so here it is.
Go for a run.
There are several benefits to this one. First, it gets you out of the house so that your brain has to process less familiar scenery, thus tying up neurons so that they aren’t engaged in the mental negativity that’s going on. Second, getting sunshine helps your body balance your serotonin and dopamine levels, which is good when you’re going through hard stuff. Third, the physical exercise is good for you. Fourth, running cause your body to release endorphins, natural pain killers that make you feel better, and can help stabilize your mood.
If you have an IPod/MP3 player/phone that will double as one, I recommend taking it with you when you run (and earbuds/headphones too). Put on happy, upbeat music. Even though the music will feel jarring because of the mood I’m in, it always helps me change my mood. Playing sad or angry music only reinforces those emotions and won’t help you get things straightened out any faster. I learned this one the hard way. Abandoning my Evanescence et al. was one of the best things I’ve done.
If you’ve done any running, then you know that your brain will start to sync with the rhythm of your stride, or to the music your listening to. Often, I find myself going over a phrase over and over again, like a chant while I run. When this happens, If it’s a bad thought, I make myself change it to something like, “I can do this,” or, “this too will pass,” or “I’m alright,” or, “I’m not alone.” Anything that is positive, true, and comforting will do. Part of how I pick my phrase is the rhythm that I’ve got going. Sometimes I need a sentence with a particular meter.
Only run as long as you are comfortable running. Don’t push yourself past your limits. The run is to clear your mind and help control your emotions, not to punish yourself in any way, and not to train for longer runs. You need to come out of it with energy left over to help you continue to stay in control of your emotions, and to be able to complete all the other things you have to take care of (job, school, kids, cats, what have you).
I suppose you could use a treadmill or an elliptical if you have one, but I think getting out of the house is good.
Be sure to drink plenty of water when you get back. Your mind might be going through the rough stuff, primarily, but your body is being affected too. Take care of both these parts of you.
I personally find running to be one of the most effective turn-your-day-around methods. I’d do it more, but it’s hard to find time between work and class. My right knee also protests running vehemently, despite the fact that the rest of me likes it. I have to be careful not to over do it when I run.
Hope this helps!