Cheryl's Blog

Week 33 – Change Direction: How to shift a downward spiral


I’ll be taking some time off over the next couple of weeks and will be rerunning a few past newsletters, trusting that you’ll get what you need :).

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Have a great week!



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Topic of the Week

Act Now!

“Only one thing has to change for us to know happiness in our lives: where we focus our attention.”

–Greg Anderson

We all have those days when life hands us one frustration after another, as though we’ve been possessed by some kind of negative force that brings mayhem to even the simplest tasks.  I’m sure you know what I mean.  You’re running late for a meeting when your child’s school calls to say your little boy is sick.  You grab your paperwork on the way out the door, trip and drop the files all over the parking lot, curse yourself and rush to the car (and of course, you can’t seem to get the key in the ignition fast enough). Finally, on your way to pick up your son, you get stopped for speeding and realize that you left your wallet back at the office. By this time it feels like you can’t do anything right.

Sometimes the tailspin begins with something small like an upsetting phone call or an e-mail that pushes your buttons. One moment everything seems fine, and the next thing you know, your mood has quickly taken a turn for the worse. Fortunately there are things you can do to change your mental direction. When you find yourself feeling out of sorts, try one of the following actions and see what happens:

1. Clear the air. Do something to shift your energy.  Take a shower, change your clothes, or tidy up your office.  If you’re at home, vacuum the living room, open a window, or even change the sheets on your bed.  As you take these simple actions, imagine yourself clearing energy blocks that might be fueling the bad cycle.

2. Get into motion.  One of the quickest ways to change your mental state is to get up and move your body.  For example, when you’re feeling overwhelmed, resist the temptation to work even harder to get organized. Instead, take a brisk walk or go for a bike ride.  When you do, you’ll find that exercise enhances your ability to focus making you better able to tackle your situation later on with clarity and ease.

3. Shift your thinking. If it’s true that our thoughts create our circumstances, then you’ll want to shift your negative thoughts to positive ones as quickly as you can.  Recall a favorite childhood song and start singing it out loud (Trust me, “Row, row, row your boat” or “Twinkle, twinkle little star” will make you laugh).  Or, you could pick up an inspirational book, open to any page and start reading.  For some people, taking a nap can do the trick.  Sometimes it helps to shut down your mind for a while, so you can wake up feeling refreshed and clear-headed.

4.  Put on some music.  There’s nothing that shifts my mood quicker than music.  I still remember the days when I felt stuck or anxious while writing “Take Time for Your Life” and I’d put on the “Mambo Kings” and dance around my office.  The wild rhythms were like a secret prayer that always restored my creative power.

Finally, while there are many things you can do to shift a temporary bad mood, sometimes we need to honor the fact that a low mood may be an indication of something deeper.  For example, if you’ve experienced a recent loss, you may need to have a good, long cry.  Or, if you feel frustrated or angry about a negative pattern in an important relationship, you might need to rant and rave before engaging in a discussion with your loved one.  Just like a wound that needs time to heal, sometimes our moods are an indication that our heart needs space, rest, or the loving support of someone who cares.

Take Action Challenge

Over the next week, notice when you seem trapped in a negative cycle and use one of the items above to stop it.  Be adventurous and try different techniques.  By the end of the week you should have at least five examples of things you can do to get yourself on the right track!

Life Makeover For The Year 2009 (sm) is written and produced by Cheryl Richardson. If you have any questions or comments, or for reprint permission of this newsletter, please email: © Copyright 1999-2009. Cheryl Richardson, P.O. Box 13, Newburyport, MA 01950. All rights reserved.