Have you ever…
- felt like things were finally coming together and then got news that the person who was key to your success was unavailable?
- discovered that someone you love and/or trust betrayed you— again?
- got news someone else got the promotion everyone (including the person hiring) encouraged you to pursue?
- realized that reality is much more thoughtless and crueller than you ever imagined?
- felt like you couldn’t make a difference so why keep trying?
- tried another strategy and got puny results?
Like a punch to the stomach stifles breath so goes it for you when you feel disheartened—connection to and with others, confidence and hope for a brighter future darkens. You feel down, dispirited and sullen.
How do you find heart to so you feel heartened?
If time heals all wounds, do something intentionally heart-strengthening with your time. Revive connection. Inspire confidence. Magnify hope.
In this article, you’ll get thirty-two quick and easy ways to find heart and recover so you feel heartened. Do enough of these activities consistently and you’ll be in primo heartened shape.
Ready to find your pulse?
1) Take some time off from your routine.
Go ahead, take a vacation from the routine you’re living. Literally, take a real vacation away. Or make a small change like driving a different way to work, walking over break time, meeting a friend for lunch instead of eating at your desk, taking every other Wednesday off. What else is on your list?
Do it. Get out of your routine for a change.
2) Create a daily gratitude list.
My client keeps a spiral notebook in her car and makes quick notes of small and big delights during the day. For example, the driver next to her slowed down so she could move into the lane she needed; she stopped the negative self-talk and accepted that traffic was slower and she would be five minutes late; her husband quickly got up to attend to their 10 month old son while she was on the phone.
Gratitude lists are a quick and easy way to stay heartened during stressful everyday times.
3) Start something that makes you feel happy
I have a client who is struggling with her love interest’s ambivalence. She realizes she must change her focus away from him but doesn’t know how.
As she shared what she has been doing over the past year her face brightened as she described traveling for the first time internationally to Spain by herself!
Voila! She’s going to investigate opportunities to travel to other places with an organized group. Happy!
4) Laugh regularly.
Do you have friends who are funny? Or movies you laugh at no matter how often you see them? What about video clips from You Tube?
Hang out with those friends, watch those movies, like those YouTube videos. Here’s one that always makes me laugh:
Now let’s go get him some treats of his own!! Good dog!
5) Talk to someone who will listen and help you figure out the source of your discouragement.
If you don’t know why you’re feeling disheartened, do yourself a favor and explore possibilities.Talking with a professional therapist or coach can accelerate positive movement.
If you’ve been struggling for a while and wonder if you’re depressed, seek help sooner rather than later. Don’t let depression linger– it gets worse and there’s too much good help available.
Ask your doctor. Rule out any physical causes. If you have an employer, you may have EAP (Employee Assistance Program) benefits which match employees with licensed mental health professionals for confidential quick problem-focused solutions and/or referral. Most programs provide 100% coverage so your out-of-pocket expense is zero.
6) Sing along with this song.
Go ahead, open it up…
Fitting don’t you think?
7) Write to TEN people who have made a difference in your life.
Let them know how they made a difference. Keep the focus on them.
It feels good to give back.
Just start with ONE person.
8) Spend time with nature.
Explore the nearest park. Invite a friend. Where’s your closest nature spot? Maybe you’ll find a rainbow like web designer, beach lover friend Kenn!
9) Spend time with children.
Play a game, make cookies together, read a story or color together.
Have fun together doing homework.
10) Get good rest and eat well. Plan to take a walk.
Are you sleeping well? Eating all the food colors– not just whites?
Have you been outside yet? Grab your favorite music and go. Now!
Yes, go back to the basics of good health: sleep, balanced diet and exercise.
Struggling to get started? My friend Jan shares her personal story with some fantastic advice. Take a look.
11) Enjoy sex with your lover.
Sweet and sweaty. Good exercise. Get those happy feelings rockin’ and rollin’ with hormones prolactin and oxytocin as well as neurotransmitters serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine.
12) Clean out a closet. Mow the yard. Make a bed.
Do something productive while you move around. Looking good!
13) Invite some friends over for dessert.
Make ice cream sundaes. Everyone can bring a topping.
Or ask everyone to bring a favorite dessert so there’s a smorgasbord of options (and leftovers for the hostess!)
Choose a book or blog from someone who has been there (like you) and got through. Check out my friend Mitzi Bockmann’s blogs. She offers real, practical advice.
15) Watch an uplifting movie.
Do you have some favorite feel good movies? I shared a clip from one of my favorite movies below.
16) Avoid hanging out with negative people.
And don’t let negativity dominate your mindset!
You gotta love smart people who have heart! Or is it that people who have heart are smart?
I admire the mother of one of my adolescent clients who has volunteered with her daughter at a women’s shelter, animal hospital and visits the cancer unit patients with her trained service animals.
She shares joy wherever she goes.
18) Read this:
19) Share goodwill.
There’s an office acquaintance in my building who brings a delicious soup in a crock pot for all of us to enjoy. No reason other than she wants to share.
A professor in undergraduate school used to single out students between classes and share a simple but meaningful affirmation that was unique to the student. I know, I was fortunate to be on the receiving end.
20) Read this daily (or write your own).
Starting today, every day, I’ll feel stronger, fitter, more vibrant, more alert, less easily fatigued, less discouraged.
21) Smile and say hello.
Take an extra minute to greet others. Be okay if they don’t respond back.
Stay grounded. One step at a time.
23) Before going to sleep, write down at least three things about yourself that you like (not grateful for—but treasure about you).
For example: I like it that I’m sensitive to others–and take them seriously.
24) Sign up for a class.
Learn something– fun and different. Flower arranging? Making sushi? Speaking Spanish? Bookkeeping?
Go for it.
25) Update your resume.
Feel good about everything you’ve accomplished.
26) Have a serious conversation and share something that matters to you.
Write a letter to your future self. Have your future self write back!
27) Review your strengths and apply the second one immediately.
Have you taken the VIA (Values In Action) Character Strengths Assessment yet?
Find out your top five character strengths and then consider how your second strength can help.
For more fun, print all 24 Character Strengths and then cut them apart. Fold them and put them in a jar. Pull one out every week and use it daily.
Let me know how it goes.
28) Be a friend. Forgive others and yourself. Daisies always help.
29) Light a candle and enjoy.
There’s something about lit candles which calm and soothe the restless soul. Add a bath full of bubbles and I’m good!
30) Believe this:
31) Wrap your arms around yourself and give yourself a hug.
Right hand grab left shoulder. Left hand grab right shoulder. Squeeze. Aahhhh.
32) Look up!
Is it a plane, superman or what? Blue skies sweetheart. Blue skies.Clouds. Sunshine. A rainbow if you’re fortunate. Smiles from fellow human beings, dogs and cats.
Don’t hang your head. Look up!
We’re in this together.
Disheartened? You have thirty-two ways to find your heart’s pulse and recover.
Like the fit athlete who gets lots of aerobic exercise enjoys the benefits of a slower resting heart rate so will your emotional recovery be enhanced by choosing heartening activities regularly.
Which heartening activity appeals to you?
I’d love to know your favorite go-to heartening activity. Please comment.
Mary Franz LCSW, PCC is a couple’s therapist, critical incident responder, and personal strategy coach. Need to talk about a personal or business relationship challenge? Visit her website and ask for a complimentary strategy session.