By Amy Brenneman—
Physical movement and exercise are what I’ve continuously heard experts say are important for one’s mental wellbeing. When I had the blues years ago, a surprising thing happened. I was able to overcome depression by using boxing as my tool. A family friend had introduced me to a legendary boxer, Roy Jones Jr., who showed me some fun boxing techniques. The sport had never interested me before. However, after Roy Jones Jr. taught me how to jab, cross, hook, uppercut, bob and weave, I quickly learned that boxing was uplifting and exciting. Simply putting the gloves on would change my mood and add an extra spring in my step. After pulling me out of the blues, I began to have a mind shift about this sport. I continued training over the years and learned that this new way of exercising through boxing helped play a positive role in many aspects of my life.
Physically Pushing The Blues Away
Maybe you’re already a boxing expert—or perhaps this sport doesn’t resonate with you at all. Is there another physical routine that’s appealing to you? How about Qigong (pronounced chee-gong)? It’s an ancient Chinese exercise and healing technique that involves meditation, controlled breathing, and movement exercises. Tai Chi, a form of Qigong, is a Chinese martial art that teaches defense while offering many health benefits as well. Tai Chi is a lot like shadow boxing. Doesn’t this sound like a fun way to exercise? It could be a perfect solution for chasing the blues away.
Listening To Avoid Depression
Music is another way to help propel you into a positive mindset. Maybe there is a musical instrument that intrigues you. Have you thought about taking lessons and learning to play it? How about dancing? You could take dance lessons or you could move along to your favorite tunes anyway you choose. Simply putting on music that makes you feel happy or nostalgic in some ways is certain to help boost your mood. Music and dancing can be both physically and emotionally uplifting.
If you find yourself feeling down, think about a particular song you could use as your go-to whenever you need a lift. It could help tremendously if you already had your happy song in mind to play whenever you needed a boost of energy, some inspiration, or a little pick-me-up.
Music plays into our emotions while dancing encourages physical wellbeing. By blending the two of them, you can learn to feel happier and healthier. How about making it a daily or weekly routine? Set aside a day and time when you can listen to your favorite music, dance, or do both. I truly believe music is a sure-fire way of allowing positive vibes to reach your soul.
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Rewiring Your Brain For Positivity
Do you think it’s possible to rewire your brain? I sure do and the latest research supports this. For the past several years I have been using positive self-talk and journaling to help retrain my brain. It simply isn’t enough to tell someone who has the blues to just think positive and everything will be okay. Your brain needs to learn how to do that first.
What I have learned that helps defeat negativity and the crippling words “I can’t” is to repeat a positive phrase such as “I will” or “I am willing to.” This is a phrase I used with my students that led to remarkable positive changes in their behaviors and attitudes. Instead of telling yourself you can’t do something, ask yourself what you are willing to do to get the job or task done. It can put a positive spin on an otherwise self-destructive mind set of “it’s too hard” or “I can’t do it.”
Along with positive self-talk, it is also extremely helpful to journal your feelings of gratitude. When you can look at the things in your life and describe what you are grateful for, it helps rewire your brain and can turn a negative thought into a positive one. Here are a couple of examples: If you had a bad day at work, write down three things you are grateful for that your job provides. If you were frustrated because it took you longer to reach your destination due to traffic, write about the songs you were happy to hear while driving, or the scenery you were able to view out your window, or the quiet time you got to experience if you were alone in the car. You might even feel grateful that you had a vehicle to get you where you needed to go safely.
Have you ever felt jealous wanting something that others have? Jealousy is a negative emotion that doesn’t leave you feeling good inside. But you can turn that around. If you are feeling upset because you want something that you don’t have, write down what you are willing to do to obtain it. Better yet, journal about the things you do have in your life you are grateful for. I guarantee your life will start feeling more abundant than insufficient, if you can begin to look at things with gratitude.
This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice from your doctor for diagnosis or treatment.
Amy Brenneman has worked in education for more than 20 years and is the author of Boxing The Blues Away.