Hey, you with the broken smile, the half-hearted laugh, the one with the question “Why me? Why now of all times?” — and those of you who are struggling to find joy and happiness — can I tell you something? Smile; it shall pass. I know you feel lost and feel like the world won’t ever bring you happiness and joy again. Well, I want to help you find that joy with six simple suggestions. Can you let me do that?…Thanks! I hope that these will help.
Tip #6: Slow down and take a deep breath.
Find yourself a quiet place where you will not be disturbed for about two minutes. It can be your tree house, your closet, your bedroom, your secret hideaway , or any place that makes you feel safe. Now just do some breathing. Take a deep breath in, and imagine your lungs are balloons. Fill them all the way up and hold for one second before letting it all out. Then you can do it again. Repeat till you feel relaxed. You can do this in the school bathrooms, too. For those who need something more, do a count of four. It goes breathe in, one-two-three-four, breathe out, one-two-three-four. Use your fingers to help you keep track. Doing this will help relieve stress and anger by making you focus on something that your body needs.
Tip #5: Find yourself a hobby or favorite something to do.
Believe it or not, some of you may need to redirect your feelings into something else to take your mind off of your sadness. Those of you who have a creative sense, taking up the fine arts is one way of doing it. Dance, painting, crafts, sketching, and poetry are just a few examples. For those who are not so crafty, try and find something that will make you feel better, such as practicing your favorite sport or cooking your favorite cookie recipe. It may seem silly, but it does work. It will keep you a little busier, too. It will give you a sense of accomplishment when you finish the hardest dance routine, successfully bake a tasty new recipe, or complete a painting or a sketch of an amazing picture. This can help make a difference in the way you feel at the moment.
Tip #4: Laugh with friends and family.
When was the last time you laughed? I mean really laughed, like a Santa’s belly laugh or the one that makes you bend over or the one where you start snorting? While you may not be in the mood to laugh now, that joke that was just told was kind of funny. That funny face your friend makes when she is trying something that she insists she doesn’t like is super funny. Or when you are having one of those family nights where your parents are sharing embarrassing photos of themselves or telling stories about something Grandpa or Grandma did when they were younger. Just laugh. For those who do not know how to get started, fake laugh. Do it with friends or family because you can try to outdo them with the best fake laugh. By the time you guys get into it, you will be actually laughing.
Tip #3: Go get moving.
Getting out of the house and getting fresh air is always good. Go to a nearby community park, or go in your neighborhood and go for a long walk or run. You can even do your breathing, laughing, and hobby there if you would like. Spending time in nature is a good way to relax for some. Sit on a bench for a break and count how many squirrels or birds pass by. Cloud watch if that is something you like. Take your dog for a walk if you have one; they will most certainly enjoy that time with you. Also take time to find yourself something to smile about in the park.
Tip #2: Write it out.
Believe it or not, some of you may need to write out what you are feeling. It is a great way to express yourself if you have a hard time talking about how you feel. Write it all out. You can take your time. Everything needs to get out. Write it in sections like a diary, write in different colors, write on different colored papers, or find some other method to help you keep it organized. According to a friend of mine, K. Griepentrog, writing in different colors or on different colored papers can help if you can only write so much at a time, or it can help you keep track of the different time periods that these things have happened.
Tip #1: Talk (and cry) it out.
This is my top recommendation. This tip works best if it is an in-person conversation, but if that is hard to do, then by phone is alright as well. It may hurt to talk about it, but it is not good to hold it all in either. L. and J. Wieland, friends of mine, recommend talking to someone who is close to you and who understands you, such as a close parent or friend. Expressing yourself and getting it out there is good for you and for those around you who may not understand how you feel. Start off the conversation by simply saying, “Can I talk to you? It is really important that you hear this and not judge but just listen,” or something like, “Hey, it is really important that I share this with you. Do you have some time?” Take it slow, for it will not be easy at first. If you end up crying on the person’s shoulder or in their arms, it is okay to do so. Crying can be a great release for built up sadness and frustration. At the end, thank them for listening and then listen to them as well. They may have questions while you tell the story, have advice on what to do next, or will simply be able to tell you that it will be okay. That reassurance can do a world of good.
An encouraging saying that has helped me and my friends through some difficult times is that “God gives his toughest battles to his toughest soldiers.” So don’t give up. I know that you may feel lost and joyless right now, but it can start changing as soon as you take the steps to achieve that happy, joyful life that you want to live. I am not saying that it will happen overnight, but it can and will happen over time if you let it. Hopefully you’ll be smiling again before you know it.