It’s meltdown season

Every year, at this time, things start to fall apart. The year’s gone on too long already (although it also seems to have gone too fast); the holidays are too far behind and too far ahead to give us any sense of relief; energy-flattening winter colds are still around (and I wrote last week about how very present winter bodies are) – everyone’s grumpiness is generally up a notch.

I know mine is. Or would be, if I hadn’t embarked on a campaign to cheer up the nation. Here’s the ultimate mood-boosting five-point plan to see us through to party season:

1.You know that thing about exercise and endorphins? ‘Strue, even though I sound like a stuck record. If the idea puts you in a bad mood, think laterally: dancing is exercise. Just 10 minutes doing something energetic counts as exercise. I know that for mood-management, sadness-management, stress-management, the treadmill is my solution (with the bonus that you sometimes see astonishing videos – I even saw the Village People doing ‘YMCA’ a while back. Good grief). Getting active does a lot of other things too. Just buy into it, please, so we can stop having this conversation.

2. Friends are fantastic, and that’s something busy people forget. Loneliness is a sadness too many of us live with not because we have no friends, but because we don’t give ourselves access to them. Once or twice a week, dedicate your lunch hour to phoning or, better still, seeing someone who brings out the best in you, someone who makes you laugh (or, if you genuinely need this, whose shoulder you can cry on).

3. Mood food isn’t a myth: the way you eat can mess with your body at chemical level to either raise or depress your mood. Scary. Eat the good stuff.

4. Lose a kilogram. Just one. If you do # 1 and # 3 above, and keep alcohol to a minimum, it should happen in a week. A kilogram is neither here nor there in the great scheme of things, but it gives you a sense that you can control the uncontrollable, and that may be the single most profound message we crime-hit, inflation-bamboozled South Africans can take home.

5. Just for a moment, think about the stuff that’s really bugging you – the emails you’re postponing because they’re going to be difficult to do; the piles of reading that are waiting for you; the burdens you can neither pick up nor put down. Procrastination is the thief of time, and a cluttered desk/head/heart are killers. So, tonight, turn off the TV on anything that’s not crucial viewing, make a list of what needs doing, and start ticking it off. It’s back to that theme of control.

Until next time, breathe. And don’t bite anyone’s head off.
(Heather Parker, Health24, June 2008)

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