Based in Sydney, Australia, Foundry is a blog by Rebecca Thao. Her posts explore modern architecture through photos and quotes by influential architects, engineers, and artists.

Five things you can do in under 30 minutes that will seriously lift your spirits.

Five things you can do in under 30 minutes that will seriously lift your spirits.

No matter how hard you work at living your best life, there are just some days that are harder than others. Everyone has off days, when you wake up with the best intentions but for one reason or another, things just won’t go your way. 

I am no stranger to days like this. In fact, like many of you, I’ve experienced weeks and months at time where something ‘felt off’, out of control or things that would normally bring me joy and happiness just didn’t anymore. 

And I’ve learned that it simply doesn’t matter how mentally tough you are, how good or bad you have it in life, or if you’re actually doing all that you can to turn things around… funks do not discriminate; they happen to all of us and they can creep up on you at any time. 

Stress, vitamin deficiency, hormone levels, a lack of support and much more all play a role in how you feel. And unfortunately, an imbalance in any of these areas can be really easy to miss or overlook. 

But in today’s post, I want to focus on how we can help ourselves. Specifically, I want to share the five things I do to get out of a funk fast. Most, if not all, of the ideas I talk about here are quick fixes, and may not be the answer for more serious conditions or disorders. With that said, I do believe that if exercised consistently over time, every habit here can help just about anyone get into and sustain a healthier, happier mindset. 

Get outside and go for a walk

With smart devices in our pockets, on our wrists, in our laps, etc. we can order food, clothes and movies; have remote offices in our home; and skip the  gym in favor of an at-home workout. While making our lives easier in so many ways, technology makes it possible to never leave the house.

And while being indoors may not be the cause or reason that you’re feeling down, being cooped up inside all day certainly doesn’t help. 

What will help, is something as a simple as heading outdoors and going for a nice leisurely walk. 

Multiple studies have found evidence that being in nature can profoundly impact our brains and behavior, and help us to reduce our stress and anxiety, and increase our creativity. 

So whenever I find myself down and in my feelings, one of the first (and easiest) things I will do in an effort to lift my spirits, is get up and head outdoors for 10-20 minutes and just walk up the street or around the block. And I’ll do this without my phone (or you can put it in ‘do not disturb’ mode if being alone without your phone makes you uncomfortable). Exposing your mind to all of nature - the sights, sounds, smells, etc. - is absolutely crucial if you want to truly experience the restorative impact of this practice.

Try free-writing

When I’m having a bad day or find myself in a funk for an extended period of time, it can be tough to talk about with other people - even the ones I trust the most. And when it seems like there is no one I can talk to, life starts to get pretty lonely and I can become overwhelmed by my negative thoughts and emotions.

When this happens, I need to find a way to release these emotions. For me, one of the most effective ways to do this is free write

To do this, all you need are your thoughts, a pen and a piece of paper (or several if there’s a lot you want to get off your chest), and for ten minutes simply write down anything that comes to mind - without any judgement. 

The point of this exercise is not to form cohesive thoughts or write about your feelings in an eloquent manner; it is simply to release them so that they hopefully stop burdening you. I don’t look at what I’ve written, or save it to read at a later date. I literally throw out the pages right then and there.  

Deep-seated negative feelings can be unnecessarily harsh, debilitating and sometimes even humiliating. And since we are what we repeatedly think and do, free writing, for me, has become a means to release these emotions so that I can make room for newer, healthier ones.

Free writing is an exercise that can be performed daily or as often as you feel you need it. Either way, it is one of best ways to rid yourself of thoughts and emotions that don’t serve you. 

Meditate (or something like it)

Full disclosure, I am not someone who meditates daily or with any real consistency. That being said, there have been several times in my adult life when I have leaned into various types of meditation (mostly for a few days or weeks at a time) and have felt a profound positive impact on my mood.

Meditation is simply an act of elevating your state of awareness. It is a way of observing the connection between our thoughts, feelings and actions and considering all that a positive, open mind is capable of. 

There are many ways that I like to meditate. And simply knowing that there are in fact many ways to do it, may help you form the habit that you need in order to lift your mood. 

You can do guided meditations using an app; a one-minute daily check-in (which I wrote about here); or read daily passages like those found in one of my favorite books A Journey to the Heart. It really doesn’t matter. It’s been my experience that, when it comes to the mood-enhancing benefits of mediations, doing something, anything, is better than nothing. 

Engage in your hobby

In addition to everything else, there have been many instances where I’ve found that the cure for feeling crappy is simply to distract myself.

While this is not a long-term solution to more serious conditions, it can be a surprisingly effective way to lift your spirits when you’re having a bad day.

As you know from following my blog, I love to cook and create recipes. And when I find myself consumed by negative thoughts or feelings, cooking is something that truly takes my mind off of whatever I’m thinking about. Because preparing a dish requires both physical and cerebral engagement, cooking allows me to 100% focus on the task at hand, which naturally means that I cannot possibly be thinking about anything else while I do it. 

And it’s not just me. This works for my husband too, who plays the guitar almost daily. While he loves to play just for the sake of it mostly, he often comments on what a great distraction and mood lifter it is after a crappy or stressful day.

Sometimes the best way to feel better is simply to find time in your day to do something that you love. 

Talk to someone who knows how to make you feel good

Over the years I’ve learned that there will be people in your life who, despite keeping around, don’t always have the best intentions. And you may be right to not let these people get too close to you, especially when you’re feeling down.

But, hopefully, all of us has at least one person who we can confide in without fear that we are being too vulnerable or judged for feeling a certain way. They’re the ones who listen to you instead of talking at you or down to you; they’re the ones who, after you see or speak to them, leave you feeling valuable and important; they’re the one’s who consistently have great perspective; they’re the ones who talk about ideas rather than people; they’re the ones who practice what they preach; they’re the ones who lift others up without wanting anything in return; and they’re the ones who are always happy to see you succeed. 

I am fortunate enough to have two people in my life who fit this description. Both my husband and my brother are friends that I am able to confide in and rely on to help me feel good when I’m stuck and can’t seem to help myself. It doesn’t matter what I’m going through. Sometimes they’ll just listen and try to understand; other times, they’ll offer perspective and remind me what I’m capable of. But all of the time, they will stop at nothing to make me feel better.

None of this is meant to imply that we’re capable of always feeling good, because, well, that’s impossible. The point is to simply understand that, while bad moods and funks happen to all of us, there is no reason to feel stuck or helpless, or to wallow. Know that there is always something you can do to help yourself (or others!) feel better. And often times, it’s a much easier than you think.

Easy Spicy Tofu and Black Bean Sofritas

Easy Spicy Tofu and Black Bean Sofritas

After six years on a strict plant-based diet, I decided to eat eggs again. Here's why.

After six years on a strict plant-based diet, I decided to eat eggs again. Here's why.