When I’m feeling negative after a bad day or even week, my inclination is to go into a dark room and sit there with some red grapes, a bottle of Moscato and an Enya CD to brood until I feel like coming out. You might relate, but life’s responsibilities often don’t allow us to take an unlimited amount of time off to get back on track. If you’re anything like me, you have to pull it together quickly and move on to the next thing. There’s no magic wand to make you feel better during these times, but here are some tips to check yourself and check in with yourself when your feelings start to go south.

Take a deep breath

Do you ever find that when you’re getting upset you start to take shorter breaths or even hold your breath? I do! Trust me, when your emotions turn south, they can unconsciously affect your body. If you feel yourself going negative, take slow, deep breaths for at least two minutes and you’ll notice the difference in your body. You’ll feel calmer, even if you’re still upset. Calming yourself is the first step to dealing with whatever is happening in a clear and rational state.

Ask yourself if it’s worth it

A lot of times things upset us, and maybe rightfully so, but I always ask myself if it’s worth it. Should I really get myself all worked up over this, or is it an external issue that has nothing to do with me? Do I even have control over what’s happening right now? The one thing that you always, always have control over is yourself. If a situation is going haywire and things are getting ugly, you don’t have to be.

Think of something random or funny and smile

I use this a lot in professional settings. Did that one colleague say some slick mess, knowing you wouldn’t make a scene in the staff meeting? This has happened to me countless times in the corporate world, but my go-to is smiling. The assumption is that, as a black woman, I’ll get angry and explode. I prefer to check myself first, smile, and if need be, check the offender in my most professional tone. A smile does wonders in social situations.

Set time limits for yourself

Many times something will happen and I’ll say to myself, “Dom, you have three minutes to wild out, and then you gotta keep it pushing.” This gives me space to feel my feelings and to validate them with myself and not sweep them under the rug. It also lets me release tension so that at the end of my three minutes, I’m in a better emotional place to deal with whatever is happening.

Remember, this too shall pass

I’m sure I was upset about at least four things last month (let’s say one situation, comment, or personal fail per week) that I don’t even remember now! Stay positive in the sense that your current state isn’t where you’ll be forever. As a teenager, my mom used to tell me, “What seems like the end of the world now won’t even matter in a few weeks or months.” That’s (mostly) true as an adult as well.

Be solution-oriented instead of a problem solver

I’ve never liked the phrase “problem solving” because it feels like it comes from a negative place. When you’re solution-oriented, you’re acknowledging that a challenge exists, but have already moved towards solving that challenge. You are saying that there is a solution, you just have to find it. Life’s challenges are like a never-ending scavenger hunt, but if you know that anything hidden can be found, you’ll be less likely to have a negative attitude about finding them.

Go outside and get some fresh air

Much like the deep breath at the beginning of this piece, fresh air and sun can do so much for the mood. Relaxing yourself in a stressful situation can be daunting, especially if you’re in a closed in area. If you’re at work, take your 15 minute break outside. If you’re at home, go for a walk around the block. Get those endorphins pumping to your brain.

How do you stay positive? Let us know in the comments below!

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