How to keep yourself smiling.

Life gets tough. I think we can all admit that some days leave us feeling used and bruised, and all we want to do is curl up into a ball and forget that day even happened. Maybe we cry a few tears or scream into a pillow or light something on fire… (Just me, huh?) Or maybe we internalize it and keep it to ourselves, because it’s easier to hide the problems than allowing ourselves to be vulnerable as we share them. If we pretend everything is going exactly as it should, we can ignore the bad.

But rarely does that help. Usually it just ends up piling up around us until we can’t see past the stress and frustration and problems. We begin to drown from our attempts to push everything into compartments, forgetting that the longer we ignore the bad, the more overwhelming and stressful it becomes.

Now, I’m not an expert at this by any means. I’m the queen of powering through, hoping that if I don’t acknowledge a burgeoning problem in my life then perhaps it will resolve itself. It’s naïve and immature and it never works, but sometimes there are things we just aren’t ready to deal with. Maybe we don’t know how to deal with them.

We’ve become stressed out, high-strung, caffeinated messes (but still beautiful messes, of course) who don’t know how to take time to care for ourselves.

We forget to have fun in the midst of the stress. We forget how to smile and love life. We are worth more than trudging through this world day after day with nothing more than work or school or bills or relationship drama or family emergencies to occupy our minds. We deserve to have some time to enjoy the life we’ve been given. We only have one life, and we should live it to the fullest.

So based on my experiences, here are a few ideas on how to keep yourself smiling as you deal with the hard times. Nothing major or fancy or requiring an excess of funds. Just little things to take your mind off life’s frustrations.

Movie night!
I’m all about movies. I’ve been watching them since I can remember, a gift and love my dad shared with me. And I will watch anything. Whether it’s treating yourself to the movie theater for a solo date (my favorite thing ever) or curling up in bed with some eighties classics or inviting friends over to see what’s on Netflix, it’s hard to be worried when you’re immersed in a good film.

Girl’s Night (of Guy’s Night) Out!
It’s easy to dwell on the all the things you have on your never ending to-do list when you’re stuck at home alone. So I would encourage you to get out with some friends for a couple of hours, eat some good food and have some good conversation and just enjoy being with people who make you laugh and care about you. Take a break and surround yourself with the best company while you recharge.

Take a walk!
Few things are more refreshing and invigorating than going out into nature and breathing in the fresh air. With each step, you can let go of all the extra things bouncing around in your mind and focus on just being present in the moment. You are alive and free and surrounded by gorgeous trees and the lovely flowers, and that is a reason to smile. It’s a moment to appreciate the world around you, to stop and enjoy the beauty. To simply be.

Chocolate!
One of my favorite quotes by Jack Kerouac reads “For some reason or other a Hershey bar would save my soul right now.” I love that. Because sometimes it takes something as simple as a bar of chocolate to bring us back from the darkness, to bring a smile to our face. Or maybe it’s a glass of wine. Or a pizza. Or a bubble bath with candles. Or giving yourself a manicure/pedicure. Sometimes you need to enjoy the finer things, because you are worth the good things in life.

Read a book!
This is my go-to when I’m in a state of disarray. Something about reading a story that an author has crafted from nothing, from the corners of their imagination brings me peace. Allow yourself to curl up in your bed or find a seat by the window in a coffee shop and lose yourself in the story. Let the words of an old favorite or new discovery wrap around you and thaw the stress in your life. Perhaps the words will inspire you in a way that nothing else has, giving you the strength you need to press on.

MUSIC!
Stress seems to melt away if you have the right playlist at the right time. Maybe you need something with a rock edge to give you the energy to tackle the day, or something light and lyrical to leave your heart and soul at peace. Or maybe you want to have a dance party in your room to the Pitch Perfect soundtrack on repeat. Whatever your preferred artist/band/genre, plug in your headphones and lose yourself in the music.

Create something!
My mind is kind of a weird, crazy, hot mess. Lots of thoughts and ideas swirling around, rarely quieting itself long enough to let me breathe. When it becomes too much to handle, I try to make something out of it; I try to create something beautiful out of the ashes. So pick up a pen and write, or a pencil and sketch, or a paintbrush and paint something gorgeous. Lose yourself in art, in your creativity, in your brilliance.

In the end, you are human. You are strong and amazing, but everyone gets tired, overwhelmed, and stressed out. You aren’t a superhero with magic powers (sadly…that would be awesome). So while I don’t recommend running away from your problems (they WILL catch up with you, the jerks), every so often we need a break. We need to step back, give it over to God, and take care of ourselves; not because you’re weak, but because you know you are worth happiness.

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Thank you for reading! And maybe (definitely) follow me on Twitter >> @cassiclerget.
I’m pretty entertaining.

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