Moody Monday: How to beat a bad mood, part 1

Crappy moods. They happen to the best of us. Sometimes it’s because we are fixated on something, and that something is bad. This is called variously: brooding, ruminating, or stewing. In my family, we call this being a “worrier” and what it means is that you have the unfortunate habit of ceaselessly reflecting on painful experiences and fears about the future. Or mostly just petty annoyances. Now, full disclosure. I am a worrier and I come from a long line of worriers. My father was a worrier, his father was worrier before him, and probably the chain of worry goes back to the dawn of time and is somehow encoded in my DNA.There is nothing good about brooding, ruminating or worrying. According to people who should know, brooding actually stressful, paralyzing, addictive and fosters other negative behavior like drinking too much and eating disorders. Nothing good comes of it.

So how not to brood?  I guess if you are aware that you are doing it you can just force yourself to think about something else. But for me that’s like saying, “Don’t think about elephants.” which just makes it impossible to think about anything but elephants.

Recently, the NYT published a study that showed taking a pleasant walk in nature actually stops brooding. By this they mean it actually changes what is going on in your brain when you brood. I decided to try this out the last time I was particularly annoyed. I’m looking at you, American Airlines.  You, and your crazy carrier fees on BA.

Results, well, as a way to alleviate acute brooding, I would give the nature walk two stars out of five. It’s probably something that might be a good idea to do habitually to make your disposition sunnier — not as a way to alleviate acute annoyances. And, it’s not that I don’t love nature–nothing relaxes me like camping. And people who like camping as much as I do are a pretty small club.

But anyway a good playlist for walking. I think it’s upbeat, and quirky and interesting and has plenty of slightly weird stuff that should distract the average person from their internal monologue and help beat a bad mood.

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Music for Mornings – An Everyday Playlist

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So tell me the truth: do you lie bed in to the last possible moment, then leap up and run around in a panicked fashion, leaving a path of destruction in your wake, and barely catching the bus to work? Some people think that getting up a little early is a better way to live. I am not over-ambitious in the morning, but I have found that turning on a great playlist in the morning makes the whole day better.

These days I usually get up about 6:30 and drink some coffee. I sit quietly and stare into the darkness until it’s time to rouse the family and get the Owlets off to school. Then I crank up this Spotify playlist. It’s mostly dreamy songs about love, just to set a happy tone for the day.

Owl Muse Wake Up! Love < Listen on Spotify

1. Robot – Cue Fanfare

2. Lovefool – The Cardigans

3. Lovers Who Uncover – The Little Ones

4. New Years – Asobi Seksu

5. No Spare Key – Honeyblood

6. Beast – Ex Hex

7. Bedroom Eyes – Dum Dum Girls

8. I Turn My Camera On – Spoon

9. Violent Shiver – Benjamin Booker

10. Bang A Gong – T. Rex

11. Just One Drink – Jack White

12. Phantom Limb – The Shins

13. Up With People – Lambchop

I start my daily chant: breakfast-breakfast-breakfast-clothes-clothes-clothes-socks-socks-socks-comb-your-hair-hair-hair-brush-your-teeth-teeth-teeth-put-on-your-shoes-shoes-shoes–boots!!!! No flip flops please! It’s 5 degrees out!!! homework-homework-homework-coat-coat-coat-hat-hat-hat-gloves-gloves-gloves.GO GO GO GET OUT GET OUT OF MY HOUSE NOW NOW NOW. REALLY NOW. DOOR SLAMMED AND LOCKED. Haha, you aren’t getting back in here, babies! I don’t care what you forgot.

I have tried various approaches to get the Owlets out of the house–begging, bribing, shouting, crying, making elaborate posters, charts and multi-media presentations; dramatic re-enactments with stuffed animals, etc. Did that work? Yeah…Not so much. The best solution so far was a simple backpack checklist.

“I’m made you a list,” I said to the Owlets.

“Are there pictures on it, mama? ‘Cause you know I can’t read, remember?” says the little guy.

Touche, my boy! Oddly, it worked anyway.

  • Lunch
  • Snack
  • Water Bottle
  • Homework Folder
  • Gym Clothes
  • Gym Shoes
  • Hat/Gloves/Scarf
  • Snow Pants

Okay, it’s April already. We might be okay leaving the snow pants at home. We might. Also I broke down and signed them up for school lunch. I decided I would rather have them not-eat the organic, free range, healthy school lunch that not-eat the bag lunch I get up early to pack for them.

But the Owlets are getting better! And they pump each other up, “Let’s go get dressed–fast, fast, fast–NO distractions, okay? No distractions, go, go, go!”

Hope springs eternal.

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Rock n Roll Lifting – A Workout Playlist

My favorite playlist for weight training is on Spotify. People seem to agree that rock (or metal)  is the way go for weight training. I think the idea is that intense music supports the intense effort and concentration needed to repeatedly lift and lower heavy things.

The weight lifting mix  starts off with “Divine Hammer” by the Breeders, then “Lola” by The Kinks, Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” “Lust for Life” by Iggy Pop, The White Stripes’ “Seven Nation Army,” David Bowie’s “Breaking Glass,” “Sixteen Saltines” by Jack White. The New York Dolls’ “Personality Crisis” adds just a little punk to the mix, and “Foggy Notion” by The Velvet Underground finishes up the set. This list is 35 minutes long which is about right for me.

If you are a guy who works out, you probably have at least considered lifting weights. If you’re a girl, probably not so much. A lot of women avoid weight training and prefer cardio, for any number of bad reasons. Weight training will make your body more compact even at the same weight.

There are definitely people who really focus on weight training as the core of their fitness plan. I have tried this and I was not a fan, but I do try to get a “big muscle breakdown” session in at least once or twice a week and balance that out with cardio intervals, spinning, plyo and circuits. By circuits, I mean a alternating between cardio and body weight exercises. I like mixing it up because it’s fun and functional–that is I am stronger, more agile and slimmer.

My super simple weight training routine is as follows:

1. Squats – 3 sets x 6 reps, with a 3 minute rest between sets.

2. Bench Press – 3 sets x 3 reps, more 3 minute rests in between.

3. Deadlifts – 3 sets x 5 reps, with 3 minute rests in between.

…and you’re done!

Form is important, as is lifting heavy. I keep a little notebook to make sure I’m adding just a teensy-weensy little bit of extra weight each time.

 

 

 

 

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