I would like to share with you an exercise that I like to call, “Happy Calisthenics”. Sometimes it is very difficult to break a sad mood or a depressive state. Anyone who has found him/herself in the throes of a large depression, knows that stopping this kind of nasty blue state can be almost impossible. Most just opt to wait it out in the hopes that if they are patient enough it will go away.
The problem is that waiting around for these depressive states can be a bad thing. Often you make the situation worse by segregating yourself. If people don’t have experience in re-focusing their minds, they tend to spend this time by themselves focusing more and more on those things that put them in a bad state to begin with. Waiting then for things to get better is not the answer.
What you really need to do is to break the depressive routine. All things in life are given strength by the power of routine. This is the constant and repetitive action, whether mental or physical, that allows any state like this to develop a type of identity. Think of it as sort of like a recording; pressing play is a particular trigger like seeing something or having someone say something; after the play button is hit the body and mind robotically go through a very specific set of actions that initiate and enforce this depression or whatever bad mood is affecting you. In order to destroy this depression then you have to destroy the routine that perpetuates it.
A great way to break a bad routine, or any routine for that matter, is to do something that is completely different from what makes up this particular routine. Happy calisthenics do this by having you perform a physical action that you normally would not do in that situation. These calisthenics are going to make you do something weird, silly, and perhaps even funny at a time when you definitely don’t feel like being any of these things.
It also works well because as I have told you before, the bodies physiology or body language has the amazing ability to change its mental and therefore emotional state. Changing your body postures and using stances that are highly different from your depressive routine will create a type of ‘state break’ that will literally jar you out of where you are mentally and emotionally at the moment.
First get yourself in a place where you can be by yourself. Then before you engage in any thinking at all, stand up straight and tall and put your arms straight up over your head. Bring your arms down, turn your head to the left, then to the right. Now puff out your cheeks, hold it, blow the air out in a big woosh and a smoothly as you can, start doing the twist. Start singing a little ‘Cubby Checker’ (look him up and youtube how to do the twist if you don’t know what I am talking about) and really get into the twist, try some new moves. Continue to do this for a least half a minute, then transition into a modern dance and do something like, ‘the flower opening its petals to the sun’. Finnish with some ballet twirls, remember to put your arms up, good posture is key in ballet. Finally finish by standing tall and straight again and force a big crazy grin on your face. Hold that grin for half a minute, and if you can laugh like the joker a few times.
Now this might seem funny now but when you are in a horrible funk it will just seem stupid. What you think here really doesn’t matter, just do it. Afterwards you might not feel that happy but you will feel a kind of shock, like you are disoriented and aren’t quite sure what to do. It is crucial that you don’t let yourself slide back into the depression routine again. Move on out of there as fast as you can and start doing something else.
If you are suffering from a horrible depression, if you think that things are beyond hope, then I dare you to do happy calisthenics in public. Find a nice crowded street corner and do a fine Irish jig for all to admire and enjoy, try and keep a straight face, be professional. You will be cured faster than you can imagine. Happy calisthenics break routine, destroy the ego, and cure depression, so try it. I dare you!