It sounds so silly, your “happy place,” but in all seriousness, it is something you should identify if you haven’t already. Why? Because when you’re stressed/upset/frustrated, you need to know how to deal with it.
Some people abuse the idea of a happy place with bad coping mechanisms. This could be through the use of drugs or alcohol, violence, anger towards others, or anything that harms you or another person. I don’t claim to be an expert on this topic, but from my personal experience, I know that I need assistance in finding a way to relieve the stress of daily life.
WHY YOU NEED A HAPPY PLACE
Here’s an example from my personal life. I know that between January and April my life at work is crazy busy due. Early morning meetings, late evenings, checking lists 100 times, printing things and then seeing an error and reprinting and reprinting and reprinting… you get the point. Luckily, the rest of the year is really awesome. It makes up for the fact that those months are so busy.
During this busy time, I know that I need an arsenal of slow cooker meals, easy lunches that can be eaten at work (since I won’t have time to go home and fix myself a meal), as well as a level head for all of the regular life stuff: paying bills, cleaning the house and taking care of my family.
This is one of those poses that makes me happy. Balance, strength and flexibility in one.
I didn’t start practicing yoga on a regular basis until April, right after my busy season. That means I have no way to tell how I’m going to handle getting my butt to class during that busy time, but I am going to make a serious commitment to practice yoga just as often (if not more) as what I have currently committed to. Why? Because yoga is my happy place.
- My time. I’m paying for this time so I’m going to focus all of my power on myself, not the ten million things I need to do when I get out of there.
- Intention. Start your practice by thinking about what you intend to get out of it. Strength? Compassion? Love? Acceptance? Hold that intention during your poses and you’ll find yourself getting just what you want from it.
- Power. Physical strength makes me feel emotional strength. If I can get through holding plank for thirty seconds, then I can surely deal with the thirty seconds of crap in some other part of life.
- Awareness. I know what poses I can do well and which ones I struggle with. I know the curve of my spine makes back bends hard but twisting poses easy. Once I’m aware of my body, I’m aware of my emotional self and how my emotions affect others around me. Your breathing is impacted, too. Learning to breathe in stressful situations can help release toxic emotions.
Yoga isn’t my only happy place, though! There’s nothing like a great big hug or cuddle time with these two:
And spending time with Rahul is definitely right up there. He helps me forget about my daily woes while reminding me that sometimes life is much more fun when you live in the present.
I also find myself dreaming about my trip to the Peace Love & Hoopiness festival back in July. Three wonderful days of yoga, nature and bliss. When I meditate, I find myself dreaming about that place. I dream about it when I drive, or when I think of a place I really want to be at. I hope that I can get to that festival again next year because it was so much fun and so relaxing. The ideal way to recharge. I plan on writing a blog about vacations and road trips soon (hopefully with an announcement about my next destination!)
HAPPY PLACES – WHAT YOU SAID
I took a poll on Facebook and Twitter to ask people if they have a happy place and where it is. The responses might give you ideas on how to find yours:
- Michelle S. – on the dance floor!
- Rainbow S. – the beach. Really any beach but two beaches specifically. One in South Carolina and one in Hawaii. I’m also going to say Dance Floor because it’s right up there. The beach is my peaceful happy place and the dance floor is my wild happy place. Very different, and definitely both important.
- Melanie A. – Easy answer: with my fam // peaceful answer: the top floor of the Central Library
- Kimberly W. – At home taking care of my flowers or doing some sort of project with Joe.
- Kyle H. – Fishing!!
- Kenan F. – Running in the rain
- Stephanie D. – A smile on my son’s face, and when Mr. D thinks something I cooked is so good he uses his fingers to clean his plate.
- Melissa M. – watching my little old lady dog sleeping soundly
- AlliOM Y. – Inside myself. I take it everywhere with me . My yoga mat is another because it taught me this.
- Jamie D. – Anywhere I am with my fluffbutt Cartman (that’s her dog!)
- Penni B. – Amsterdam. Standing on a brick bridge staring at the canal at night. Amazing!
- Ryan H. – The DJ booth until people start requesting shitty music.
- Yvonne B. – Puppy cuddles or Chris cuddles
- Kristi K. – California wine country
- Jen N. – On the deck of the lake house with a cup of tea and a book.
- Vince W. – bed. Or a Phish concert. Or Bears Game. Or 20 Tap. Or a roadtrip. Chicago. That’s about all.
Your happy place doesn’t have to be expensive or out of reach. It can be as simple as dedicating a small space in your own home that you use for your rest and relaxation. Maybe it’s a corner of a room with a picture hanging on the wall that means something to you. Maybe it’s a rug you put on the grass in your backyard with a small stereo for your iPod or phone where you listen to music and close your eyes. Maybe it’s in your shower, where you have a special fragrance you use to help calm your nerves like lavender. Whatever sparks your interest, I encourage you to get out there and find your happy place. Visit it regularly.
And if you’re saying to yourself that you can’t just get away from life’s stressors to go to some happy place when you need it, then consider these quick techniques that you can do anywhere when the stress hits:
- Breathe deep. It is essential to cleansing your foul mood. Before you unleash your claws into your aggressor or go on a rampage for soda and chocolate, do this: Take one large inhale and hold it all in for five seconds, then release and let all of the exhale out, keeping it out for five seconds. If you’re away from the stress and feel comfortable doing this in public, try alternative nostril breating. We practice this in yoga class and I practice it at home daily as a form of meditation.
- Brew a cup of tea. Celestial Seasonings makes a Tension Tamer tea that I really enjoy, but all tea can help you slow down and relax. Pick something that is caffeine free and delights your tastebuds, be it fruity or herbal. I prefer loose leaf tea and I have some ideas on brands and tools to get you started.
- Step away from your desk. If you have the option to get away from the place you’re currently at, then do it. Just take a walk around the building or try to get outside and take in some fresh air and sun. Sun can really improve your mood, so take advantage of it and get a good five minutes worth. Soak it in and up. I keep a pair of comfortable shoes by my desk so I can take at any time. There are proven benefits to productivity when you take breaks and don’t let it consume you.
- Listen to your favorite song and sing! In yoga class we often being and end the session with chanting. Do you notice how your mood improves when you’re in the car and your favorite song comes on? The one you know every word to? And you belt it out because nobody is there to hear you? That’s exactly what you should be doing when you’re in a bad mood. YouTube/Pandora/Spotify/iTunes it and let your voice carry you away from your troubles.
- Stretch it out. Do a forward bend. Do a side bend. Lift your arms into the air as high as you can and breathe. Anything you do to stretch your muscles will help release the tension you’re holding up in them.
- Close your eyes. You have no excuse not to do this one. Close your eyes and picture your happy place. Imagine yourself there, wherever there is, and let it all go. The best thing about imagination is that you can pretend you’re on an island in the Keys, a mountain in Alaska, or somewhere back in the past that made you happy. Let the tension release itself from your body as you imagine the world you wish you were in.
These ideas should help you find your happy place or at least imagine the perfect happy place. I’d love to hear about your happy place and why you chose it – leave a note in the comments!