After an unbelievably tough day, I slump through the door. I should get to work on my assignments or chores, or at least eat a healthy dinner, but I feel way too defeated to do any of that. I just want to relax! I grab a bag of chips, flop on the sofa, and lose count of the number of “Breaking Bad” episodes that I watch. When my cell phone alarm goes off the next morning, I realize I’ve fallen asleep in front of the TV.
Have you ever felt too worn out to do what you want – or should – do?
We’ve all been there. When you feel buffeted by stress, it’s much more likely that you’ll become emotionally, physically, and mentally exhausted. When you’re depleted, you have less willpower (for more on willpower, read here). Less will power means you’re more likely to pig out, pick fights, sleep poorly, cave to negative peer pressure, and do other things you’ll probably regret later.
What can you do when life’s got you down and you’re susceptible to making poor decisions?
Use the Art of Distractibility to seek happy people! Everybody knows at least one Pollyanna – someone who persistently turns towards the sunny side of life. If you isolate yourself, it’s hard to evade the fatigue-induced negative chatter in your head. If you’re around other negative Nancies (or Neds), they’re likely to pull you even deeper into a downward spiral.
Even if you consider yourself an introvert, research suggests that being around other people – particularly ones prone to positive emotions – is an effective way to disrupt your negative momentum and move towards happier experiences. Here’s how to do it:
1. List the 5 happiest people in your life.
2. List the 5 people you most want to be like.
3. List the 5 people who make you feel worthwhile.
4. Reach out to people on this list until you get ahold of one. Consider using the mode of communication that the other person favors (Grandma via Instagram? Nah!). Even if you don’t reach someone, you may notice that the mere fact of reaching out helps you feel better.
5. Engage with that person in a genuine way. Whether it’s a conversation, or message exchange, or plan to get together, the point is for you to feel connected to this person. Show that person that you value their presence in your life and time you spend together.
When we feel beaten up by life, it’s hard to muster the willpower to blow away the blues. It’s much easier to feed off of the positive energy of other people. So, if you surround yourself with healthy, happy people, chances are very good that you will soon feel happier and healthier yourself!
Come back soon for another illuminating installment on how to artfully employ distraction for your well-being!